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Albay dress designer makes masks, PPE

PROTECTIVE SUIT. Jean Alta of Kutur ni Jean shows the sample of the personal protective equipment intended for government medical frontliners. Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY --- As supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) begin to dwindle due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) 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, who 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 to frontliners, patients, journalists, market vendors, and village officials in several barangays in Albay.

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

BRTTH is one of three referral hospitals in the region tapped by the Department of Health (DOH) to handle patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We are making 50 pieces of PPE 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 PPE and other vital medical equipment for at least 500 frontliners through a fundraising campaign launched on Mar. 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 PPE 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 PPE 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

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 press time.

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