Stylish but functional PPEs by Filipino designers.


Filipinos get creative with PPE for Covid-19 frontliners


DUBAI – Not even the coronavirus crisis can put a damper on Filipino creativity and ingenuity, with designers in the Philippines putting their craft to work in creating inspiring PPEs for Covid-19 frontliners.

In Cebu City, nurse and fashion designer Justine Jabonero Contento of GAMÂ Design Studio channeled her favorite cartoon characters, TV shows and movies to create unique face masks for frontliners at hospitals and checkpoints in the city.

Her custom printed facemasks are inspired by Star Wars, Disney, Totoro from Studio Ghibli, Sugar Skull, Bane from Batman, Contagion and The Walking Dead. She’s no stranger to out-of-the-box designs, have created some of the most unique costumes by Dubai-based cosplayers.

Speaking to, the 35-year-old designer said she didn’t think twice about offering her services for free and creating cool facemasks to distribute to those in need since March.

“This pandemic is a time to help others feel hope and I wanted our frontliners to fight Covid-19 with style,” she said, inspiring GAMÂ Design Studio’s hashtag #FightCovid19withStyle.

“With the shortage of PPEs, I knew I had to do something to support our frontliners in my own little way. So my family, staff and I got to work in designing custom face masks that meet medical standards,” Contento told

More than 1,000 of her face masks are now being used by nurses, healthcare workers, policemen, soldiers and community members in Cebu City. There’s more in the production line, with supporters helping her raise donations.

The designer put her knowledge of nursing in constructing the ultimate stylish “impermeable” face masks. “The fabric had to be waterproof to repel pathogens, but also comfortable to wear, and durable,” Contento said, adding, “More importantly, it had to make you feel good during these dreary times.”

Sourcing the right materials was tough, with movement restrictions in her city, but suppliers, friends and former colleagues came to the rescue. With help, she has expanded her community campaign to include face shields.

It’s the face masks that remain her most requested items, with a growing number of people eager to support her cause by buying her face masks for their personal use. There are requests for Batik patterns, abstract and bohemian prints and more.

“I chose prints that would lessen the anxiety in both kids and adults. For nurses, I have been in their shoes and I know they can feel burned out from work. It helps if you enjoy seeing something colorful that reminds you of your childhood—those happy days when you didn’t have to worry about anything,” she said.

Before putting up GAMÂ Design Studio for bespoke fashion, accessories and cosplay costumes, Contento had spent nearly 10 years as a nurse in the communicable diseases and pediatric wards of hospitals in her hometown.

Justine Jabonero Contento during her days as a nurse.

“Our frontliners are fighting a deadly virus and staying in hospitals so we can be safe in our own homes. I am just glad I am able to help them in the only way I can,” Contento said.

Her work has inspired a community of volunteers, including the Pepino family who helped make face shields, Judith Entica Saturos who provided crochet garters for the masks, and doctors who facilitated the distribution of face masks: Dr. Jackie Lipardo from Rite Apparel, Dr. Connie Enriquez Tharakan of San Fernando Rural Health Center, Dr. Pernita Almagro Bautista of Dalaguete Rural Health Center and Dr. Katrina Cabaral Castañeda from City Health.

Telletubby hazmats

Meanwhile, in Iloilo City, another nurse and fashion designer Adrian Pe channeled the Telletubies when he designed and created colourful hazmats for nurses at The Medical City.

Pe said the inspiration for his violet, yellow, green and red PPEs came after he thought the frontliners needed colors to “push negative news away” and erase the stigma of working in the midst of a highly contagious virus.

“We are looking at the situation with a silver lining,” he said. He has since created hazmats inspired by Star Wars and Power Rangers for frontliners at The Medical City.

Also from Iloilo, designer PJ Arañador came up with hazmats in the motif of bamboo, tropical fish and banana. The cool hazmats were created for frontliners in the West Visayas State University Medical Cente.

Arañador said his team was happy to innovate with PPE that was aimed to spread positivity in the fight against the coronavirus. PIA/Expat Media

To support Gama Design Studio, reach out to them on or

For all the latest news from the UAE and the world, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube page


ADVERTISE HERE Find or post new jobs, motor ads and classifieds

Explore Expat Media