John Paul de Castro and wife Roxanne
John Paul de Castro and wife Roxanne Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: While waiting for a call from his employer to return back to work, Filipino expat John Paul de Castro, 34, has dabbled in designing reusable face masks for an organisation and his wife who is a medical frontliner.

De Castro, an acrobatic waiter by profession who serves food and drinks with stunt and flair, made reusable masks not only to save money but also to show patriotism and raise money for needy kabayan (countrymen).

Sharing his idea with Gulf News, de Castro said: “The mask was especially intended for Filipinos. I designed it not only to be useful and practical but trendy and attractive as well.”

“It’s like a badge – you wear it not only as a preventive measure against coronavirus (COVID-19) but also to say that you’re a disciplined and proud Filipino expat in the UAE,” he added.

Designed, cut and stitched by de Castro himself, the main feature of the mask was the use of Philippine national colours and flag symbols. The logo of Global OFW (overseas Filipino workers) Helpline, the organisation that commissioned the work, was also displayed prominently.

Rianne de Castro
Rianne de Castro Image Credit: Supplied

The washable mask, which is made of 100 per cent cotton, comes in two colours – black and white; and two variations – for adults and children. De Castro said it is durable and the print will not easily fade as he used sublimation, a printing process using a heat press machine.

The first batch of masks was used by his wife, Roxanne, who is a medical frontliner and eight-year old daughter, Rianne. “They use the mask every time they go out and put it in the laundry basket after use,” de Castro said.

“The mask, however, is not for mass production or for commercial purpose but I have been receiving several orders from some groups and friends,” he added.

Barter masks for food

King Chopazar Belimac, a social worker and founder of Global OFW Helpline, said he ordered several reusable masks to be distributed among members of his group.

“We also intend to barter the mask for a bag of groceries which we are going to distribute to needy kabayan,” Belimac told Gulf News.

“It’s important to wear a face mask for safety but it’s also nice to make a statement that we are proud Pinoy,” he added.

Safety tips

According to US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), aside from social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, wearing face mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC also said reusable mask is safe to use and gave tips when using a cloth face covering:

  • - The mouth and nose are fully covered
  • - The covering fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps
  • - You should not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering
  • - The cloth face covering can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping
  • - Wash your cloth face covering after each use in the washing machine or by hand using a bleach solution and allow it to completely dry before re-use.