Philippines makes face mask from abaca paper and banana fiber

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The Philippines handmade paper products exporter Salay Handmade Products Industries Inc (SHPII), has started producing face masks for the domestic market using abaca paper. Another firm Modishchey Creations is using indigenous banana fiber woven textile for producing reusable face masks after receiving a suggestion from the department of trade and industry (DTI).

Figure: The Salay Handmade Products Industries, Incorporated (SHPII) in Misamis Oriental finds a new use for its trademark abaca paper: face masks. Photo from Salay Handmade Products Industries, Incorporated.

The Philippines supplies 8 percent of abaca fiber of world market demand. Abaca paper’s filtration rate is seven times better than cloth and it has lower water absorption than an N95 mask, said SHPII’s Neil Francis Rafisura after a test by the department of science and technology (DOST) Region 10 for filtration.

According to domestic media reports, SHPII’s abaca paper was developed a decade ago, through a partnership with DTI Region-10 through the Design Centre of the Philippines.

Another innovation of DTI, Davao del Norte is producing reusable banana face masks to Gleizl Joy Cabahug Soo of Modishchey Creations as part of the office’s assistance to the company to sustain its business operation and to provide employment amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The banana fiber ‘musa’ is the main textile material produced by the indigenous women weavers of Davao del Norte as well as prisoners. Last year, DTI took the initiative to produce these banana fiber woven textiles among the IPs and the prisoners. Promoting sustainable livelihood, especially among prisoners who have no means of earning a livelihood is the primary aim of the DTI project.

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