‘Paalalabas’: How local designers are reimagining public safety reminders for COVID-19

September 24, 2021 - 5:40 PM
'Paalalabas' campaign at work. (Photo from Design Center of the Philippines/Released)


A sign reminding Filipinos to wear their face masks outside their homes as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on earned attention from a local online community on Reddit.

An online user shared a picture of a poster seen near Manila Cathedral in Intramuros which bears a warning sign and a message that reads: “Mag-mask.”

It is also accompanied by a larger text, “Paalalabas.”

The post has earned an upvote percentage of 85% so far.

“Signs like this are supposed to clearly pass the message even without reading the words,” another Reddit user noted in the comments.

“The minimalism in the poster is well-thought,” a different Redditor said.

The initiative is part of the “PAALALABAS” campaign by design industry leaders aiming to encourage Filipinos to practice more vigilant health and safety practices amid the rising COVID-19 concerns.

It is a project by Design Advisory Council and the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) which are led by the Communication Design Association of the Philippines (CDAP).

According to DCP, the term “Paalalabas” is a combination of the Filipino words “paalala” (reminder) and “labas” (to go out).

Designer Dan Matutina shared some photos related to the campaign on his Instagram.

“Reminders are memories made potent, and we want to harness that power to keep the people that matter to us (and also the general public) healthy and safe,” he said.


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A post shared by Dan Matutina (@twistedfork)

The campaign is about utilizing human-centered design to create effective communications for Filipinos.

The team said that it acknowledges the need “to encourage and constantly remind individuals and local communities of mindful and safe behaviors against the virus,” especially as the country begins to expand the opening of the economy.

It also said that it took into consideration the fact that most Filipinos are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue as an effect of the continuous restrictions on their lifestyles and the grim occurrences surrounding them on a daily basis.

“We fully understood that we were faced with the big challenge of COVID fatigue. Therefore, we knew this campaign should have the ability to pierce through this fatigue and resonate with our target audience,” DCP executive director Rhea Matute said in a release.

“We strongly believe that PAALALABAS has this ability because it has a very Filipino character of creative word play coupled with a very simple visual language and iconography,” she added.

The campaign’s main call to action is “mag-mask, mag-distancing, magtulungan,” which, according to the team, leverages indirect suggestions to empower people to act, rather than compel them to follow rules.

The team also said that its campaign wants to emphasize the concept of “magtulungan” as a way to “remind everyone that even during difficult situations such as what we are experiencing right now, we are still part of a community that relies on each other and looks out for each other.”

“We are currently in the timeline of the pandemic where a single-minded message that is strategically situated can provide that vital nudge that Filipinos need towards making the right choice on health and safety,” explained Angel Guerrero, co-founder of CDAP and member of the Design Advisory Council.