Pandemic Stories: Tailors and seamstresses in Iloilo earn from face mask livelihood project

The Iloilo City government created a livelihood project for tailors and seamstresses at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dubbed as Uswag Seamstresses and Tailors, sewers turned cheesecloth or 'katsa' into face masks.

This initiative was spearheaded by Mayor Jerry P. Treñas' daughter, Raisa, with the help of private donors and artists. The project benefited 93 tailors and seamstresses who produced a total of 300,000 face masks. The masks were given for free to medical frontliners and enforcement workers.

Treñas thanked bakeries and milling companies that gave cheesecloth materials after giving indigent Ilonggos free pandesal. As recalled, Ilonggo Pandesal was another initiative of Mayor Treñas, which produced and distributed a total of 201,594 packs of bread (eight pieces per pack) for free.

The Uswag Seamstresses and Tailors was made possible through the "Ilonggo Artists Against COVID-19" donation drive that raised P3-million through the online gallery in May 2021, gathering 300 artworks from 86 artists.

"Isa sa aton inisyatibo para maprotektahan ang aton mga kasimanwa ang pagpanagtag sang face masks kag naghatag pangabuhian sa aton mga manugtahi. Daku guid ang akon pagpasalamat sa aton mga Uswag sewers nga nakaobra 300,000 face masks para sa mga Ilonggo. Ini paagi sa pagbaligya sang aton mga Ilonggo artist sang paintings nga ginbakal sang materials kag ginsweldo sang aton mga sewers," Treñas said.

A total of P65,000 or P2,500 per artist was given back to those who weren't able to sell their works.

"I am very thankful to our artists united in anti-COVID-19 campaign. I think this is one of the biggest artworks auctions. Ilonggos are patronizing paintings and sculptures for a cause, to help their fellows to provide face masks for our people," Treñas said.

"Our artists really answered the call for need of face masks. They have not only showcased their works but they have shown support in the midst of this crisis," he added.