Filipino SFX artist seeks to ward off virus with horror-inspired face masks

Adrian Portugal, Reuters

Posted at Jun 19 2020 12:15 AM | Updated as of Jun 19 2020 02:21 PM

LAGUNA--With film and television productions halted in the Philippines due to lockdown, one special effects artist is maximizing his skills by making scary face masks to raise cash and a few smiles.

Prosthetics specialist Rene Abelardo, 50, has been out of work since March but hopes to stay afloat financially after discovering an appetite for the hand-made, horror-inspired masks that he initially created for fun.

With help from friends, Abelardo has sold dozens of the moulded masks, from monsters and zombies to the devil and the Joker. He is now receiving hundreds of orders from all over the Philippines.

The masks extend down to the jawline and up to the ears and are lined with a conventional cloth mask. They were an instant hit when they first appeared on social media, attracting thousands of likes and shares.

"I tried wearing the mask I made just for fun, and my daughter saw me and asked if she can take a picture and post it online," he said.

"A few hours later the post unexpectedly went viral, and the rest is history."

The Philippines has recorded more than 27,000 coronavirus cases and in affected areas has made the wearing of face masks mandatory.

Each mask takes up to three days to complete and Abelardo sells them for between 300-500 pesos ($6-$10) per piece.

"We started making more masks since we currently don't have jobs. It's still money coming in and it makes people happy." 

(Reporting by Adrian Portugal; writing by Martin Petty; editing by Alexandra Hudson)

TV prosthetics artist Rene Abelardo and his team makes prosthetic faces for orders of their quirky masks, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Pedro, Laguna on Wednesday. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Samples of prosthetic face masks, the latest creation of TV prosthetic artist Rene Abellardo, are displayed in his studio home. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Abelardo tries on a sample of his prosthetic face mask. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Rainier Abelardo, the 15-year-old son of Rene Abelardo, helps his father's team in molding prosthetic face masks. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

TV prosthetics artist Rene Abelardo airbrushes a prosthetic face for orders of his quirky masks. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

The team of prosthetic artist Rene Abelardo molds teeth on a prosthetic face for orders of their quirky masks. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Rainier helps his father's team with a prosthetic mold of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao's face. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Rene Abelardo mixes paint while his team prepares to mold prosthetic faces. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Rene Abelardo tries on a sample of his prosthetic face masks, his latest creation as TV projects took a halt amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters