Tailors Join Fight Against COVID-19


Davao City:  In the middle of a seaside community in Davao City, a team of tailors and cutters strive to finish personal protective equipment (PPEs) needed by medical frontliners fighting the dreaded Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).

The PPEs are commissioned by a donor who wishes not to be identified. The donor is racing against time as PPEs are fast dwindling. Funds from kind-hearted groups and individuals are sustaining the drive to procure the much-needed protective equipment. These good samaritans include the donor’s classmates at Ateneo de Davao Grade School batch of 1991/High School batch 1995 and the Rotary Club of Waling-Waling Davao.

A donation from MX3, a natural health supplement company jumpstarted the project, good for an initial batch of 500 suits and has been augmented by additional support. “We also have nurses working overseas who also donated for the project,” the donor said.

Makahuman ko mga napulo ka PPE sa isa ka adlaw o mga singkwenta sa isa ka semana (I can finish around 10 PPEs a day or about 50 per week),” says Alex Batac. The 34-year old tailor is busy sewing tafetta materials in his workshop located in the second floor of a wooden house facing the Davao Gulf.

He says making the protective gown is a time-consuming process but he tirelessly works with his sewing machine to finish the suit which will be donated to frontliners.

Alex has been busy making the PPEs as the COVID-19 has temporarily shut down his business, an outdoor shop where he produces and sells hiking pants and shorts. He doesn’t earn much compared as before but he says the suits are his contribution to the fight against COVID.

“The doctors need it, it inspires me in my work,” he says in vernacular.

The donor says the silver back lining PPE suit is made up of taffeta a material used to make umbrellas. Their costing is around six hundred pesos per suit inclusive of labor and material.

The finished product which will be delivered to the frontliners

Compared to a single-use PPE suit which costs around one-thousand pesos, the taffeta PPE can be reused up to four times.

Before the suit is sewn by Alex, master cutter Bernardino Eloriano, 72, works on to cut the fabric. He once worked as a cutter for a well-known Dabawenyo fashion designer before putting up a tailoring business.

Bernardino’s house serves as the workshop for the PPE suits, however there are other tailors working inside their houses in the community. He says the virus has forced them to focus on making PPEs.

The donor has arrived at Bernardino’s home to get the 70 pieces of PPE suits which they had finished. The suits will be disinfected for use by medical frontliners.

While waiting for the suits to be loaded into her vehicle, the donor surfs the social media on her smart phone, she reads several messages and Facebook statuses of frontliners asking for more PPEs.

The government and the private sector are ramping up the procurement of PPEs to frontliners. The Department of Health has ordered 1-million PPE sets, each protective package includes N95 mask, goggles, overalls, head cover, shoe cover, gloves, surgical mask and gown. The first batch consisting of 15,000 sets had arrived on April 1 with the rest of the PPEs expected to arrive from April 6-24.

As Bernardino and his crew loads the suits into the car, they go back inside their houses to work on another batch of PPE suits. In this front, the battle against COVID-19 is relentless and the weapons are trusty scissors and heavy-duty sewing machines.  (PIA/RG Alama)

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