The must-have accessory in the era of ‘new normal’

When Taal Volcano erupted on January 11, Metro Manila and adjoining towns and provinces as far as Central Luzon quickly saw residents wearing face masks or bandanas and handkerchiefs over their nose and mouth to avoid inhaling and getting sick from the ashfall.

The new look among commuters and denizens of various sectors became an accepted norm for a few days until the dust literally settled and people went about their usual lives.

A few couple of weeks later, on January 30, the government sounded the Philippines’ first case of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which didn’t alarm people as much when it came to wearing protective covering as the volcanic eruption. At the time, the virus didn’t seem to be a serious threat what with “patient zero” said to be a Chinese national who had traveled to Wuhan where the emerging pandemic began.

Practices quickly changed, however, when the first local transmission was confirmed on March 6 — a regular visitor to Greenhills Shopping Center — with no travel history, emptying the location almost immediately.

As everyone knows, by March 12, the government called for a Luzon-wide community quarantine to begin on March 15, which was quickly raised to an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) two days later given the rapid and worsening spread of Covid-19 around the world.

Then until now — and for the foreseeable future — face masks became a must for most everyone around the world, with many cities, including the whole of Metro Manila, issuing rules that anyone who goes out amid the lockdown should wear some form of facial covering to protect them from infection or unknowingly infecting others if they are Covid asymptomatic.

Since face masks have been hard to find following the Taal eruption, and with authorities constantly reminding the public to reserve N95 masks for use of medical health workers, enterprising individuals have come up with a variety of alternatives with washable face masks, sold anywhere between P20 to P50 apiece, as well as “designer options”— given that face masks will be around for some time — bearing stylish designs that should make this must-have for the new normal a fashionable statement.

What choices do you have today then? Let The Manila Times Lifestyle provide you with ideas today.

The fabulous

Among the forerunners of specially designed face masks is Bulakan, Bulacan-based make-up artist/designer Marbin Garcia. Besides creating three-ply fabric face masks in different single colors, he goes several notches higher by incorporating floral, beads and lace enhancements on his pieces.

Top TV and movie star Kathryn Bernardo makes her own face masks out of handkerchiefs.

In a viral video on her Instagram account @bernardokath, she begins by folding a bigger-sized hanky (you may also use a bandana) into a triangle. Next, she folds down the tip of the hanky twice to meet the base; inserts pony tail bands on either side of the folded cloth; fold in the two sides three-fourths inward, and voila! You have a fashionable, reusable, washable face mask to wear without spending a single centavo.

Check out Bernardo’s step by step tutorial on Instagram now.