Misamis Oriental’s Abaca Face Masks: The Eco-Friendly Alternative

by Harvey Llamosa
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As the world is still fighting with COVID-19, there is a high demand for face masks around the globe. However, experts warn that the improper disposal of the masks is a looming pollution crisis.

In a creative way to help fight the spread of COVID-19, Salay Handmade Products Industries Incorporated (SHPII), an artisanal company based in Misamis Oriental and our latest feature in this SEAtizens’ latest edition, developed Abaca Face Masks, a washable and eco-friendly face masks.

Photo from Neil Francis Rafisura FB page

The Abaca Face Mask is one of a kind, according to the test conducted by Department of Science and Technology Region 10 (DOST-10), the masks have a filtration rate seven times better than cloth masks and have lower water absorption than the N95 mask.

Photo from Fiber Mask – SevenXb

The Abaca Face Masks by SHPII also known as 7XB fiber masks are made from sustainable materials like the strong abaca fiber and grass manufactured and converted into special filters. Another good thing about this mask is it is also washable by just soaking it in water with soap. Since it is made from sustainable materials, there are no plastics and harmful chemicals used and its decomposition is faster.

With these impressive features, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 10 (DENR-10) already partnered with SHPII to produce an initial 1,000 masks for the frontliners.

Photo from Fiber Mask – SevenXb

Abaca is one of the Philippines’ precious gifts. According to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PHILFIDA), the country is the largest producer of Abaca fibers supplying about 87% of the world’s requirement for production. The Abaca industry has also an annual average export earnings of PHP 4.7 billion.

Meanwhile, SHPII started developing abaca face masks when they learned that the abaca paper can filter out particles.

“A handful of women workers from SHPII who have experience in sewing experimented using the strong fiber and filters for the mask,” says Mr. Neil Francis Rafisura, SHPII EVP and General Manager in an interview with Rappler.

To provide livelihood to their workers during the pandemic and with the increasing demand for face masks, SHPII started the production of their eco-friendly abaca face masks.

“Salay Handmade workers have always wanted sustainability through trade and not aid,” Rafisura added.

To know more and purchase the abaca face masks, please visit their Facebook pages: Fiber Mask – SevenXb or SalayHandmade Shapii.

Are you amazed by this Filipino invention? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness amidst the current crisis.

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