Davao designer captures hope in face masks with indigenous weave patterns

Kenneth Mheil Mangaya-Ay, Choose Philippines

Posted at May 30 2020 04:37 PM

DAVAO -- In the midst of the growing COVID-19 crisis, social enterprises, like every other form of business, are facing major challenges. As these initiatives struggle with raising funds, their beneficiary communities are placed under greater risk, adding to the growing number of casualties affected by the global pandemic.

For renowned Dabawenyo designer, Wilson Niñofranco Limon, people must evolve and strive for change. As his brand NIñOFRANCO treads carefully towards the new normal, it aspires to give hope to their partner communities. This inspired his Mask of Hope collection, an aim to raise awareness about traditional weaves and generate funds to continue supporting the community beneficiaries.

Photo from the Facebook page of Wilson Ninofranco Limon

 Comprising three layers of fabric and an inner filter pocket on the reverse side, each Mask of Hope is washable, reusable, and breathable.

“This project is very close to my heart. It takes me back to where I started. The prints that we used for the #MaskofHope were from my previous collections,” said Limon.

The Mask of Hope has three patterns. The Manata, a pattern they conceptualized six years ago, was inspired by the inabal of the Bagobo Tagabawa. The second, Stellar, was hailed from the patterns of the Tboli group. It was used in a 2016 fashion design competition where Limon won his first gold medal. The third pattern, Flanek, is a print from their Spring Summer 2015 collection which symbolizes the bayanihan spirit of the Blaan community.

“My love affair with artisanal craftsmanship started when I was working on my thesis. I thought of ways on how to contemporize local prints without violating the customary laws of the ethnolinguistic groups,” shared Limon.

Manata Pattern


Stellar Pattern


Flanek Pattern

A portion of the profits from these masks will benefit specific ethnolinguistic community beneficiaries. For the Manata design, Limon coordinated with Wimler Organization to help Bagobo weavers in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. For Stellar, donations to COWHED and LASIWWAI (Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association Inc.) will be coursed through Ateneo de Davao University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council; and the Flanek design, proceeds will be donated to Lamlifew Tribal Women’s Association.

Photo from the Instagram page of @ninofranco.ph

The digital prints of the #MaskofHope have already been approved and recognized by the appropriate ethno-linguistic authorities. For orders and inquiries, you can visit ninofranco.ph.

This article was originally published on the Choose Philippines website.