Sharing Filipino compassion amid global health crisis

FILIPINOS are not just known for world-class talents and skills. More than these, we are best noted for our compassion towards others, especially during crisis like this prevailing global pandemic.

Amid the snowballing number of confirmed coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the United States (US), now leading the world figures, a Negrense designer is currently making an effort to help especially frontliners and fellow Filipinos there.

She is Kirsten Regalado, a native of La Castellana town in Negros Occidental and now based in Miami, Florida.

Since 2015, Regalado was among the designers of the biggest beauty pageant in the world -- the Miss Universe. She also designs for local pageants, celebrities, and designer brands such as Gucci.

Recognizing that our first responders are in dire need of personal protection equipment (PPE), she started to design and distribute masks for three weeks now.

Through the help of her husband Larry, also a frontliner, and son Michael, she was already able to give over 70 masks to first responders and emergency room nurses in Florida.

The nurses and other recipients come to pick these masks in their front yard. If not, she is mailing it to their addresses.

"For this week, I have been in constant communication with a manufacturing company here in Florida and the owner is very interested to help," Regalado said, adding that "he will convert his printing company, he got sewers to make PPE for our first responders."

She added that "we target to produce at least 5,000 and we are looking for available materials here."

In making the masks, her husband makes sure that the mask is of quality. Micheal, on the other hand, helps her with the research. His son also models the masks to make sure it's the right fit.

In terms of materials, Regalado uses water resistant fabrics for the first layer. "I water drop tested it," she said.

For the second layer, the designer uses a clean N95 filter from her stocks. The third layer is made of poly cotton. She utilizes a flat metal for nose clip and elastic strings to secure the mask.

Another unique feature of the masks, the fit is custom-made for the frontliners.

Regalado gave importance to the mask fit especially the top part "because if the person sneezes and that person is taller than you and your mask is loose, the virus can go inside your nose or mouth."

Also, the mask is washable. Meaning, it can be used again after soaking it with soap and water.

The masks, according to the nurses receiving it, put a smile on their faces. They forgot that they are wearing a protective mask but of course the main purpose is to protect them, Regalado said.

"I am happy that majority of the people are staying home. We can flatten the curve if we are all united for good and follow rules. The virus lives only in a living things and cannot survive. Don't go out. Stay at home by this we can easily stop the spread of the virus," she told fellow Filipinos.

Moreover, Regalado spent her early years at the town proper of La Castellana. Her interest in drawing started when she was seven.

In 2002, her family moved to the US where she started her modeling and fashion designing career although she studied medical technology.

"We are following every safety protocol here and staying in quarantine. We only go out for emergency purposes," she said, adding that "we have hope in God and supporting our first responders by staying at home."

Indeed, Filipinos are naturally compassionate. Our hearts that are willing to help others regardless of race are evident even in the most trying times.

Regalado's masks are testament of her goodness as a Negrense. A character that has remained resilient whatever challenges confronting us.


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