Fashion

These Banig-Like Woven Face Masks Are Proof That Local Is Awesome

They provide work to the weaver women of Quezon.
IMAGE Instagram/ mimi.lipi
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Face masks—you need them. There’s no doubt about it. Now that the protective personal gear has become a never-leave-home item (like smartphones), the question becomes: What should you wear today?

Top Story: The Story Behind That Ostrich Running Around a Village in Quezon City

In the expanding face mask universe, there are plenty of options: There is the athletic mask. There’s the trendy coffee-scented mask. There is the mask made with abaca fiber. There are even sophisticated masks for the SONA. 

There’s a mask for every style and taste such as these woven face masks by Mimi + Lipi, the local brand that showcases well-designed, artisanal products by KALIPI Quezon Province (more on this later). 

“Our weavers were producing hats and bags, which were going to be launched in March, but COVID put the brakes on that,” says Joanna Suarez, president of KALIPI Quezon Province. “So we pivoted the abilities of our weavers to focus on present needs, which are masks and PPE.

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Needless to say, its banig-like, non-medical face masks offer protection. According to the label, the design, which features four layers (neoprene, a filter pocket, microfiber, buri), was developed “in close consultation with medical practitioners to ensure protection, safety, and comfort.” 

But there’s more to like about the masks.

The woven face masks are made of the familiar buri.

Apart from the most important thing (keeping you safe), these look awesome. The woven face masks, which come in three patterns, evoke nostalgia and pride as they’re made with buri fiber, the very same material that is woven into traditional pamaypaysbanigs, and hats. 

Buri was a natural choice for the brand as it is abundant in Quezon, where it is based. Apart from this, Suarez notes that the material is versatile and ...buri products, if cared for well, can last a long time.” 

They’re reusable.

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And if you’re feeling guilty about the number of face masks you’ve sent into the arms of Mother Earth, these masks are reusable. According to Mimi + Lipi, washing is as easy as disinfecting the mask in soapy water and then leaving it to dry under the sun. 

They provide livelihood to women.

Finally, because these are overachieving face masks, not only do they 1.) keep you safe, 2.) look cool, 3.) and help protect the environment, they also provide livelihood to the weaver women of KALIPI in Quezon province. Which, says Suarez, is the heart of the endeavor. 

Good to know: KALIPI or Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina is an organization that empowers women through national and local programs. For this project, it supplies the materials for the masks, as well as pays for the labor of the women. 

These woven face masks tick all the right boxes and then some. If you are among the few who won’t budge when it comes to face masks, maybe these will make you consider finally wearing one.

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Clifford Olanday
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