by Lade Jean Kabagani
BATANGAS — You don’t need to have a lot of money to help.
A 61-year old seamstress, Rosalina Mantuano, of Lipa City has proven her generous and kind heart by sewing thousands of colorful masks and giving it for free to her ‘kababayans’ affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas province.
Mantuano began Monday sewing masks after the volcano spewed heavy ashfall. Shortly, the supply of face masks dropped and prices increased by twice or as much as three times the usual price.
“After I heard the masks prices have commercially increased, I decided to make more of it using some of my tailoring scraps and fabrics,” she said.
Mantuano did not have a second thought of making face masks when she learned from television news that these masks have become so expensive and the supplies run out in stores. Supplies are exhausted even in pharmaceutical stalls in Metro Manila.
“I thought I have nothing to offer and a lot of people needed masks. It can be bought but expensive, (so) I decided to make these face masks and give it away for free,” she said, as the Taal Volcano is continuously spewing ash and blasted steam to neighboring towns.
Mantuano is currently busy making 100 face masks every day that she sews two to three minutes each.
As the day passed, Mantuano’s neighbor lent her tailoring machine and her children helped in sewing face masks. She increased her finished products by up to 150 pieces per day.
Her son-in-law, who is a member of a motorcycle riders club, delivered relief assistance to the evacuation centers. She then requested him to bring the home-made masks to the evacuees.
She knows the pain of her “kababayans,” a Tagalog term for countrymen, thus Mantuano said she targets to make face masks “as long as it is needed by her kababayans.”
When people heard of her inspiring story about helping her kababayans in times of crisis, cloth donations and financial aid poured.
The heartwarming part was she set aside her livelihood to cope with sewing more masks for the evacuees.
But Mantuano said she does not regret setting aside dressmaking at the expense of helping others.
She is already receiving cloth donations which allow her to produce more face masks, she added.
Life as seamstress
Inay Rosalina, as known to her family and neighbors, earns her living by sewing for the past four decades or so. A widow, she was able to raise her five children through dressmaking. She makes several types of clothing, uniforms, gowns, wardrobes, curtains and many more as requested by her clients.
One of her children also turned out to be a dressmaker, who also helps her to make face masks.
Mantuano recalled she had a rough start in life, that’s why she knew how hard it is for the evacuees to be away from their homes.
As much as Inay Rosalina is grateful that in her “own little way” she was able to extend a helping hand to her kababayans, her family is pleasantly surprised at how many people are expressing their gratitude to her.
Mary Jane Mantuano, 35, who posted the compassionate act of Inay Rosalina in her social media account, said she did not expect that many people would be inspired by her mother.
“I am very proud of my mother. We are happy that she had able to help many people,” she said adding they did not expect their mother would have thought of doing such a good act.
Mary Ann said their mother was able to inspire others that anyone can help.
“We (are) happy because there were so many people thanking her for giving the face masks for free,” she added.
Nanay Rosalina plans to make more free face masks in the next few days until Taal Volcano calms down. (PNA)