Pinukpok designer in Albay makes face masks, protective gear for frontliners

Rhadyz B. Barcia
Pinukpok designer in Albay makes face masks, protective gear for frontliners


Local designer Jean Alta is calling on those from the fashion industry to show their bayanihan spirit. She urges helping frontliners by producing personal protective equipment for them.

LEGAZPI, Philippines– As supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) begin to dwindle due to the coronavirus pandemic, local pinukpok designer Jean Alta is putting her skills to good use to help frontliners in the city.

The 31-year-old designer is the woman behind Kutur ni Jean, which specializes in formal wear made from “pinukpok” or abaca fiber, which is shipped across the Philippines and abroad.

Due to the outbreak, Alta and her team began focusing on providing free face masks for frontliners, patients, journalists, market vendors, and village officials in several barangays in Albay. (READ: LIST: How to help healthcare workers, frontliners during coronavirus pandemic)

Given the continued rise of cases and the shortage of vital medical apparatus including PPEs at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), Alta said they are gearing towards making PPEs for medical frotnliners. 

BRTTH is one of three referral hospitals in the region tapped by the Department of Health to handle patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. (READ: Filipinos find ways to improvise safety in the time of coronavirus)

“We are making 50 pieces of PPEs for BRTTH doctors provided by several donors. I’m also providing free face masks for medical frontliners, including patients. For now, I have more than 100 pieces of face masks but the Diocese of Legazpi will also be providing materials for face masks which we are rushing to donate,” she said.

The situation has gotten so dire that Dr Eric Roborar, Health Emergency Management Staff chief at BRRTH, had appealed to Bicolanos to donate P850 for the purchase of PPEs and other vital medical equipment for at least 500 frontliners through a fundraising campaign launched on March 22.

Dubbed “Tarabangan para sa frontliners (Help for frontliners)” the campaign seeks to help healthcare workers and frontliners during the coronavirus pandemic.

While Alta wants to provide free PPEs for medics, she is facing budgetary constraints to cover both the purchase of fabric materials and the provision of salaries for her team at Kutur ni Jean.

As her way of helping, Alta said that she will instead be making affordable PPEs for medics at P600. 

“Kutur ni Jean will produce affordable suits to help our frontliners. As much as we want to give it for free, we also need finances for the materials and laborers. That is why we are willing to give it for an affordable and cheaper price,” she said

FOR FRONTLINERS. Pinukpok designer Jean Alta in Legazpi City rushes to make PPEs for physicians and medical frontliners of Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia/Rappler

Alta urged fashion designers to show their bayanihan spirit and join in helping frontliners who are responding to the outbreak by producing PPE suits as well. 

“As we face these difficult and trying times, everyone is called to help and support each other in whatever we can. We are also asking our co-fashion designers, couturiers and people in the same industry. Let us share our skills and talents by helping in the mass productions of suit and washable mask. We are also willing to lend PPE patterns. Together, we will fight COVID-19. Together, we will rise as one if we work together,” Alta said.

Since the launching of Tarabangan para sa Frontliners, the fundraising campaign has generated P1,013,518 as of posting.

Geraldine Francia-Naron, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) public relation officer in Bicol, said the corporation has also released P351,929,930.59 to assist 11 hospitals across the region to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease here, following a request from Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda. 

These were mainly given to DOH-identified referral hospitals for COVID-19 such as Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi, Bicol Medical Center in Naga City, Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatic Medical Center (formerly Bicol Sanitarium).

The BRTTH was received P101,986,381.04 in funding from Philhealth to assist them in attending to the outbreak.

““This is to help them respond to the increase of COViD-19 cases in the country. The amount is equivalent to 3 months’ worth of claims based on historical data, which will be charged to their future claims,” Naron told Rappler.

As of March 29, there are 4 confirmed coronavirus cases in Bicol, with 17 persons under investigation and 105,566 persons under monitoring. –

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