Like everyone else stuck at home, Mich Dulce would find herself browsing over social media—only to fortuitously come across her friend Cynthia Diaz' Facebook post. The post talked about rolls of fabric ready for use as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but with nowhere to donate to and without the skills to turn into something useful for frontliners working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Luck led the former PBB Celebrity Housemate to that call, but it was initiative that spurred the fashion designer to provide furthermore.
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Mich quickly got the ball rolling—messaging a friend about designing PPEs herself and then another one to Vice President Leni Robredo with whom the artist had previously worked on several projects. She would eventually obtain the fabric from her Manila studio, followed with a set of PPEs from the Vice President's office. In a Facebook status, Mich said these samples were lent to them "so we can make a sample of it, and begin production." She thought she got it in the next steps—that it was just a matter of reverse-engineering the design. But she had another and bigger problem: Meeting the high demand. Having only a single studio and a handful of sewers and designers working with what they had from home, Mich deliberately started a Facebook group to collaborate with other designers and clothing industry workers in producing more.
Started on March 21, the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club quickly drew many members from all over the Philippines—all eager to lend a hand to the efforts against COVID-19. It has swelled soon enough to 2,000 members—from amateurs working on small details from home to full-fledged design workshops and studios assembling everything together from head to toe. Beyond that, it is, as Mich described herself, "a group fueled by... generosity... who (volunteer) their time and pay their own teams to help in the fight against (COVID-19). (It) is run by people who donate own their time and resources. (Selflessness) at its finest."
Mich finally saw her work just getting started. But to perfect the suit, she had to get a doctor's approval on the design. With the help of the Office of the Vice President again "for facilitating the approval," Mich, plus Cynthia and clothing technology instructor Kendi Maristela, all spoke over Zoom with Laguna-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Jesus Julio Ancheta, and ultimately managed to proceed.
With a bit more tweaking around and with consultations from healthcare workers, Mich with Kendi finalized the designs for PPEs in two styles: The standard one-piece that wearers stepped into and zipped up in the front, and a two-piece designed for the convenience of women healthcare workers in mind. Thinking a design as important as this has no place being kept in secret, Mich has made it accessible for replication by uploading it online.
In no time at all, Mich has already received word about her designs being used all over the world. In a tweet, she mentioned that she "got messages of it being used in Australia, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Botswana, Thailand and more." She also mentioned of the tech pack being translated into Bahasa Indonesia.
Recently, through the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club, Mich has also called for donations to purchase more materials needed in the production of PPEs. She surely is one of the better ones who do know how to use their talent and influence for the greater good.
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Banner image by Gustavo Fring via Pexels