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Mask of amazing stories and colors

Roel Hoang Manipon

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HAND-STITCHED and hand-tooled Attique Pride mask. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARVIN GERONIMO

As this year’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month happened during the coronavirus pandemic, when wearing face masks became the norm, face masks displaying rainbow colors have become an inventive way of supporting Pride and showing solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Some designers have come out with their own versions. One of the handsomest Pride face masks that have been made available is Attique’s mask.

The online store of handcrafted home and lifestyle items has been offering different masks made of leather during the pandemic, and its Pride masks are hand-stitched and hand-tooled using real cow Nappa leather. Available for a limited time for P2,500, the Pride masks exhibits six colors, which many describe as “hardcore cool.”

Attique itself has an interesting story.

“We launched Attique during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as a livelihood project for our crew. As you know, the live events industry was the first to be hit by the pandemic, when shows and concerts started to cancel as early as February. When the government enforced the ECQ, we realized that our business would be the last to resume. We have about 30 to 50 workers living in our warehouse, who quarantined with us. They were out of jobs, and we had two options: to close business (and let them go), or find a way to sustain them and help them earn a living,” Enzo Pizarro shared, a set and production designer by profession, who co-owns Nikko Metal Works, a staging and fabrication company.

Couple and production designers Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PADERO AND TAJIBE

He continued: “I’ve been working with leather as a hobby for a couple of years now. During the ECQ, I trained some of my crew who expressed interest to learn. These were skilled workers to begin with — carpenters, sculptors and artists. When they picked up the skill, I decided to start prototyping a line of products that we could market. Our first products were things my wife and I needed — an apron for her because she loves baking, and a leather mask for me. Within a week of launching, sales and feedback were encouraging, and our crew had found a new livelihood.”

When June came, Attique launched a Pride campaign with their own Pride masks.

“The Pride mask was a special request by a customer who had ordered a few of our leather masks before,” Pizarro revealed. “It was a difficult request. We had to source out six different colors of real cow Nappa leather and matching thread. But we realized that we had to say yes. We wanted to say yes. We have many friends in the LGBTQ+ community, and this is our way of supporting them as they celebrate Pride Month.”

“We made a new pattern for the Pride mask to accommodate all six colors in their proper order. We made the right strap to match the first color (red), and the left strap to match the last color (violet) as a sign of fluidity,” he explained. “The Pride mask is simply a celebration of love in all its forms.”

Because of their Pride masks, the company was able to meet “amazing people whose stories inspire us.”

PRIDE participants marched in their homes with the help of technology.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ROEL HOANG MANIPON

An example is a serodiscordant couple Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije, who are both film production designers and in a domestic partnership for the past 13 years.

“Pride means living your truth, even if the truth is that you are living with HIV. The point is you are living. Pride means sharing your truth. Take away the fear. Strip away the pretenses. You are you. Pride means raising your flag. Behind every story is a living, breathing, colorful person. We celebrate our truth. We fight to protect our love. We dance to the beat of our own hearts. Let Love and your Truth protect you in this time of uncertainty,” they enthused.

On the other hand, Paula Haylide and Rhejean Libria, who have been together for three years, showed their love and pride with the masks.

“For us, Pride means freedom and equality. It’s standing on the ground holding your flag and raising it with confidence, dignity and certainty. Knowing that you are proud of who you are with no one to judge and no one to look down on you. Because the happiest moment of your life is when you’re being accepted, acknowledged, and loved for what you truly are,” they said.

Attique sells the Pride mask and other products online through their social media accounts (www.facebook.com/shop.attique and www.instagram.com/attique.ph).

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