Woman in Philippine Air Force goes viral for gown made of 17,000 soda can pull tabs


A Filipino woman recently went viral for sharing a photo of a gown she is in the process of making with soda can pull tabs.

Richell Malibiran, a 43-year-old technical sergeant in the Philippine Air Force, caught the attention of thousands of Facebook users after posting about her current project on Jan. 24.

Malibiran, who is a member of the public Facebook group Homepaslupa Buddies 3.0, asked its 1.1 million members for help in donating pull tabs for her latest endeavor. Her post has already garnered over 18,000 likes.

Speaking to NextShark, Malibiran says that she started working on the gown in the second week of January 2022.

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Since then, she has been working on it during weekends for up to five hours. During weekdays, she works on it for around two to three hours after work — usually between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

So far, she has used around 17,000 pull tabs.

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Malibiran shares that her gown, which is currently trending on the Facebook group, is her third project.

She made her first gown using a cutting method, in which she cut the upper part of the pull tabs to stick them together.

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For her second project, Malibiran used ribbons instead of cutting the tabs to tie them together. She notes that all the gowns she has created are made from collected pull tabs.

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Malibiran aims to apply for a Guinness World Record after completing her current project.

I really want to enter my work into the Guinness Book of Records to help the Philippines get recognition and encourage others to recycle,” she tells NextShark in Filipino.

She also shares that she was flooded with emotions after learning that her recent Facebook post has received over 18,000 likes.

“I did not expect that so many people would appreciate my work,” she says.

When asked if she considers dressmaking with pull tabs to be a hobby, Malibiran says it is part of her advocacy.

“I’m a Coca-Cola collector, and recycling is part of my advocacy to protect Mother Earth. I inherited this trait from my siblings. My sister, a doll collector, also uses recycled materials when making dresses for her dolls.”

Besides her family, Malibiran’s colleagues in the Philippine Air Force also show their support by helping her collect more pull tabs.

While recycling has been ingrained in Malibiran and her family since they were young, the idea of creating a gown out of pull tabs did not come to her until her father became ill.

Malibiran says that collecting pull tabs has sentimental value to her since her late father liked collecting them as well.

I told him I would continue his collection and use them in exchange for a wheelchair, but the number needed for the tabs kept increasing every time we were nearing the quota," she shares.

“So I bought my father a second-hand wheelchair instead and used the tabs we collected to create my first gown as a way to remember him. Most of the tabs used were from his collection.”