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These high school friends want you to buy a mask, give a mask, and feed a community

For every eco-friendly abaca face mask you buy, Masks for Two will donate an abaca face mask to someone in need

COLORS OF THE ABACA The masks come in 13 different colors and are fully biodegradable

Friends since high school Melissa Yap, Larissa Nubla, Pamela Gaw, and Lorenzo Arceo have found a way to help the most disadvantaged in this pandemic.

“We were feeling really helpless,” the group says in an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Luckily, with some likeminded friends, we were able to channel all that energy into this initiative. It is important to find a way to release those helpless and restless feelings in a way that works for you. We wanted to find a way to raise money without solely asking for donations. The main challenge was creating a model that would benefit both donor and recipient.”

Their project, Masks for Two, is perhaps one of the most ambitious we have seen. They sell eco-friendly masks that support the livelihood of local abaca weavers. Did we mention that for every mask purchased, they give a mask to someone in need? That is a whole lot of good that comes out of one mask.

“We believe health and safety in this pandemic shouldn’t be a privilege afforded only to those with the means to acquire it for themselves—but for everyone,” the team behind the Masks for Two initiative says. “With this in mind, we wanted to find a way to help and protect those most vulnerable in our society right now.”

Abaca face masks are up to seven times more effective than ordinary cloth face masks in filtering out air particles.

LOOK GOOD, DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD Abaca is considered a ‘future fiber’ in the UN

The masks are made in partnership with the Upskills+ Foundation, which provides livelihood training to underprivileged communities. The Masks for Two initiative supports the livelihood of the Banquerohan Resettlement Site Neighborhood Association (BRSNA), a group made up of evacuees from the Mayon Volcano explosion of 1993.

“Aside from wanting to help others, our team is very passionate about conserving the environment,” they add.

Due to its sustainable and renewable qualities, the United Nations (UN) has identified abaca as a “future fiber.” This means that the UN understands that abaca can help society transition to greater models of sustainable development.

The Philippines is currently the leading producer of abaca fiber in the world, delivering 85 percent of the global supply. Our country has the potential for leading the world to more sustainable heights in the midst of this pandemic.

And don’t worry, an abaca mask doesn’t mean you will be sacrificing safety. According to Masks for Two, the abaca face masks are up to seven times more effective than ordinary cloth face masks in filtering out air particles.

Initially, their goal was to donate 250 masks, which meant selling 250 masks. But, to their pleasant surprise, they reached 200 sales in their first week alone. Now they have thrown out any numerical goal and are working hard to be able to donate as many masks as possible and provide livelihood opportunities for as long as possible.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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