Cebuano craftsman makes pintados-inspired leather face masks

Published July 16, 2020, 11:52 AM

by John Legaspi

These handmade creations pay homage to the tattooed ancestors from Visayan history.

Until July 31, Cebu City is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), thanks to the efforts of its local government in decreasing the spread of the virus and keeping its people safe. As we all know here in Manila, MECQ is not an easy situation for everyone as limited transportation, curfews, and strict adherence to safety protocols are still happening all around. It also has adverse effects on livelihood as business operations are limited, if not even suspended or ceased. 

Though they can breathe a little easier now, wearing face masks in public is crucial, especially in Cebu, so a man from Talisay got creative, producing masks made from leather in steampunk fashion.

Ranrick Diaz, craftsman and thespian of Karakao Productions, a Cebu-based theater group, now designs and manufactures a line of protective masks featuring Visayan patterns.

“It took almost a month of manual stencil, painting, sewing, and basically designing the best version of leather mask I could ever make,” Ranrick says.

His passion for doing leatherwork is evident on his Facebook page as he posts about his other creations such as sling bags, arm accessories, and hand gloves.

“I started doing leatherwork since December of 2018. Back then I didn’t have any tools for leatherwork so I improvised with using a fork to punch the stitch holes,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Most of my knowledge came from leather-crafting Youtubers.”

Not only does he create face masks, his Patik protective mask line also features respirators mask, all are named after a Visayan term such as paglaum (hope), pagmatngun (precaution), kaisug (strength), and the mythological creature bakunawa (sea dragon or serpent).

The patterns on Ranrick’s masks mimic the art of Visayan batuk or the traditional Filipino tattoos donned by warriors as signs of nobility and bravery. In the 16th century, these Visayan warriors were called “pintados” by the colonizers because of the tattoos all over their bodies.

Though they are not medical grade, the masks and respirators provide protection from the virus as they come with cotton pad filters and disposable masks to line them. The respirators also have velcro straps to secure them in place, vents holes that redirect breathing, and a chin guard to ensure a snug fit.

“We partnered with an upholstery factory and got to use their off-cut leather that wasn’t going to be used for production line anymore,” he says.

The masks and respirators are only available in Cebu, but Ranrick is finding a way to ship his works to other parts of the country.

“We thank everyone for supporting us,” he says. “This is just the first batch. The second batch is coming with more stock so stay tuned for more updates through our page.”

Images by Minxie Villaver