Threads of hope tie these women and their future

Published February 23, 2021, 5:51 PM

by MB Lifestyle

Women of Yolanda and Marawi weave their future through the local fabric and clothing industry

Seeking to inspire hope for the future in their communities by rewriting the disaster-victim narrative, Maranao weavers and Tacloban seamstresses have banded together to create the Kadasig reusable face masks to revive the local fabric and clothing industry.

Through a partnership between ECHOsi Foundation, Inc. and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), each with their own community-driven livelihood development programs for the women of Tacloban and Marawi respectively, these two women’s groups have been brought together to produce an essential item in these challenging times: The Kadasig reusable face mask that helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection. 

Weaved with hope

Kadasig, which means resilient in Waray-Waray, is not only about celebrating the heritage of our indigenous fabric but the tangible output of their fortitude,” says Sebastian Quiniones Jr, PSFI executive director. “It has already been years since the tragedies of Typhoon Haiyan and the Marawi Siege, and many in the affected communities are still struggling with rehabilitation. Instead of the tragedies that have come to define them, they can once again express their hopes and dreams, one thread and stitch at a time.”

Designed based on the guidelines released by the World Health Organization (WHO) for non-medical face masks, the Kadasig face mask is made up of three layers using a combination of absorbent and non-absorbent materials to ensure full protection.

Traditional Maranao method of weaving using a backstrap loom

The unique weave on the outer layer was made by the Maranao weavers using a traditional backstrap loom. More than generating needed income, the Maranao women also seek to revive the weaving tradition, which is an important part of their culture.

Kabaya ame a makuwa a grupo ame na katukawan o kadakelan so kultura ame knaba bu sa Pilipinas ka sa intero a dunya (Our hope is that our culture will be known, not just here in the Philippines, but all over the world),” says Rahma Abad, one of the Maranao weavers.

The Maranao weave, in turn, is used by the seamstresses of Tacloban, who cut, sew, and structure the traditional fabric into the final Kadasig face mask.

Amid the challenge of rehabilitation and the obstacles faced due to the ongoing pandemic, these two women’s groups are helping their communities pick themselves up again. As part of its commitment to being the Philippines’ partner in nation-building, Pilipinas Shell continues to support these local communities as they recover today so that they can have a brighter future tomorrow.