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CDO native sews face masks for family, friends at the Carolinas

Charlotte, North Carolina—Due to the ongoing global pandemic, I decided to feature Filipino Americans here in the Carolinas who have stories to share and tell under my ‘Straight From The Carolinas’ series if only to provide a connection to Filipinos back in the Philippines who are struggling like the rest of humanity in fighting this unseen enemy called COVID-19.

Knowing Filipinos to be gregarious and social animals who love to be in groups, this pandemic had forced all to stay at home to avoid contracting this virus. There are those who struggle with the boredom and the constriction of being quarantined and there are those like Carol Mathewson formerly Carol Japitana of Sitio Bantilis, Barangay Bugo in Cagayan de Oro. To this day, she can still recall the zone where she was born, which is Zone 5.

Now Carol Japitana Mathewson lives with her growing family at Mint Hill, North Carolina. Her lovely home is now a school, restaurant and an art gallery.  Being stuck at home prodded Carol to make 20 face masks for her family—eight for her household and 12 divided equally among friends. ‘It is good to share especially since it is hard to find face masks anywhere,’ Carol said. If there are still more being sold, she said they should be reserved for the frontliners.

A mother of six, Carol loves to stay in the kitchen and cook for her family.  In making her face masks, Carol said it’s better to make them at home rather than buy commercial since they fit better. After sizing up their faces, Carol places filters into the mask to help users breathe better and to keep out germs.

‘I used micro fiber because it is thick. Times like this we need to be resourceful. That is one of the reasons why I posted my finished product at Facebook  so I can give ideas to others,’ Carol said. She couldn’t make more because supplies ran out, she said.

Carol studied at the Cagayan de oro Bugo School of Arts and Trades (COBSAT) which is accredited by the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA). She studied Home Economics and on her third year she chose Garment Making. Carol recalled struggling at first to use the sewing machine but eventually adjusted.

‘Maayo na lang kay nagamit nako akong natun-an sa una (Good thing I used what I learned before) and help save lives,’ Carol said. She used a Brother XM2130 sewing machine and spent two days to sew the face masks after caring for her two-month-old baby and finishing household chores.

The face masks are washable and Carol said it is double sided with filters. These have three layers to allow the users to breathe. Carol said she ironed them to flatten the fabric. The face masks for kids measure 21cmx17cm while the adult face masks measure 21cmx24cm.

She felt happy after finishing the face masks saying it would help protect her family and friends. Carol said while she is affected like the rest of us with the quarantine, it is to our best interests to stay inside and wait for COVID-19 to run its course.

‘Kung maka gawas murag feel nako naay mga virus naglupad lupad…pag tan aw nimo sa ubang tao nag mask pod morag feeling nako naa sa lain na kalibutan (If I go outside I feel like the virus is just floating out there and when you see people wearing masks I get the feeling that the world is different now),’ Carol said.

While she agreed that the pandemic can affect one’s mental well being, Carol said the best thing to do now is to stay at home, pray to God and monitor what the country’s leaders announce. “I had to adjust a lot especially since the kids are at home school. I kept reassuring them and I also entertain them through arts and crafts so they won’t get depressed and bored,’ she said in Filipino.

Carol is happy about two things though; her husband now works at home and she gets to listen to my program ‘Barangay S’ which is broadcast online over at 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat FM Balingasag from Monday and Wednesday to Friday (except Tuesday)at 7 am to 8 am Philippine time and 7 pm to 8 pm Eastern Standard Time. (For questions and comments email me at susanap@yahoo.com)

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