Did you know that the island province of Catanduanes located in the Bicol Region lays claim to being the world’s top producer of abaca.

Referred to as “abaca country,” Catanduanes is the top abaca fiber-producing province in the Philippines–with some 23,550 metric tons of raw fiber manufactured that comprise 40 percent of the total abaca fiber production nationwide in 2015 alone.

In fact, the Philippines is the world’s largest producer of this material supplying about 87.17 percent of the global requirement according to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA).

More interesting stuff about this local material. Abaca fiber is also among the raw materials used in making surgical face masks because they are generally hypoallergenic and water-resistant.

Seeing the potential of the abaca fiber for high quality face masks, one social enterprise based in Salay, Misamis Oriental has embarked on the project.

As reported by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Salay Handmade Paper Industries Inc. is now producing eco-friendly face masks termed 7XB Fiber Mask from abaca fiber.

The project is done by the group in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 10.

The DENR even tested the eco-friendly face mask and found that it is seven times better than the normal cloth face mask in filtering micro elements.

It is also washable. Just soak it in water with soap and let dry.

And once you throw it away after several uses, it decomposes faster and friendlier as there are no plastics or harmful chemicals used in its production.

DENR 10 has already tasked Salay Handmade Paper Industries to produce 1,000 7XB fiber masks for use of front-liners.

If you are interested in getting the 7XB fiber masks, you may visit this FB page: https://web.facebook.com/fibermask.sevenxb.