A couple of months back, being passed round various “Facebook walls” of Filipino friends of mine, was a short story on some European cookies going by the name of Filipinos. The question was posed regarding the appropriateness of calling a snack food by the name of a nation’s peoples. None of my friends were personally offended by the notion but reading into the history of these cookies did amaze me somewhat.
It seems back in 1999 then Philippine Congressman Heherson Alvarez, claimed that the name of the cookie was offensive due to the apparent reference to their colour, "dark outside and white inside". His resolution stated "These food items could be appropriately called by any other label, but the manufacturers have chosen our racial identity, and they are now making money out of these food items." On August 26, 1999 then Philippine president Joseph Estrada called the brand "an insult". So the government of the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with the government of Spain, the European Commission, and then manufacturer Nabisco Iberia. Wow……
Now lets look into these snacks a little more. The Philippine National Historical Institute has stated that they believe the history of these round cookies with a hole in the centre is linked to the “Rosquillo”, a traditional snack made in Iloilo and Negros. There are other claims they originated in the Liloan area of Cebu, where they have an annual Rosquillo Festival, however since the National Historic Institute has them coming from Iloilo and Negros, I’ll run with that. The twist to the commercially produced variety is that they are dipped in chocolate. And herein lies the apparent controversy, some say, that by calling these cookies Filipinos there is an analogy to Filipinos being dark on the outside, yet striving to be more “white” on the inside…… These kind of food analogies are not new. In the 1990’s British born Jamaican Reggae Deejay Macka B sang about black Jamaican Yuppies in the UK being nothing more than a Chocolate Bounty, black on the outside but white they want to be.
As I write this, nations in North Africa and the Middle East are in the middle of major people’s revolutions against their tyrannical governments. Some like Libya have delivered bloodshed, and others like Egypt have shown the world the power of non violent people power. These current ongoing revolutions have been dubbed the Facebook or Twitter Revolutions, with their messages driven by the power of the internet and social media. We should take this time to remember, in a time long before social media, that one of the great people power revolutions, peaceful non-violent uprisings, originated in the Philippines. February 25th 2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Peoples Power Revolution in the Philippines that toppled President Marcos in 1986. Ordinary everyday people braved facing Marcos’ tanks and artillery, bringing food and drinks to support troops that deserted the government to support the revolution. The power of the people facing off against their own people manning the tanks and guns of the regime shone through then, just as it did recently in Egypt. So on the 25th Anniversary of this remarkable event, should we worry that a tasty popular snack takes the name of a nation’s people? A nation’s people who have regularly shown their strength and resilience, through such events as the People Power Revolution, the inspiration that is still liberating peoples of the world today.
The power of the internet, the power of the people, the power of the biscuit?