The Philippines’ Anti-Terror Bill has caused an uproar. With just President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature needed to make it law, residents are doing what they can to push back. The controversial bill will allow the government to charge its critics as terrorists and, according to human rights activists, was made to diminish freedom of speech.
This is all happening during a pandemic that has left Filipinos holed up in quarantine for almost three months. With the lockdown eased, some brave Filipinos are now making their way to the streets to protest, like the rally in the University of the Philippines campus on June 12, Philippine Independence Day. However, those who have no choice but to stay home are now finding other creative outlets to express dissent, and from this, a new form of protest has risen — literally.
And this is how baking has turned into a means of expressing political opinion.
Filipino activist bakers, most of whom were unable to make it to the rally due to travel and schedule constraints, are turning their oven creations into messages to fight the Anti-Terror Bill.
For Rosan Katlea, who likens the approval of the bill to “watching a toxic, abusive, relationship unfold,” she used vegetables to spell out the letters "Junk Terror Bill" on focaccia bread.
She made this as a celebratory treat for her baby’s 11th month, saying: “I can’t just continue being a mother by fluffing over my daughter every time she grows older, it should also be about the world she’s going to live in. Our home is the Philippines and protesting through baking is my own revolution in my own kitchen, while being stranded here in Dubai. I feel like we each have our own compassion language, mine’s an edible love language for my country.”
She calls her masterpiece the “focaccia pulitika.”
Meanwhile, Allexa Galada decided to add colourful sprinkles over her fried doughnuts to express her opinion. When asked to elaborate, she explained: “I thought it was a perfect combination of everyone being at home baking and being upset on the internet at the same time. I’m tired of ranting to my friends, so I thought it would be nice to let out some feelings, but also have a light moment with my family since they’re going to end up eating them, after all.”
And of course, it wouldn’t be quarantine baking without the star of the show: sourdough bread. Isabella Pineda also carved out the words “Junk Terror Bill Now” on her loaf.
“I feel scared,” she said. “Reading through the bill, I can see how it can be manipulated into an avenue for human rights abuse. Baking is one of my favourite creative avenues, and I thought that etching a statement onto a piece of bread would catch more attention than if, say, I just wrote it down on a piece of paper.”
Inspired by Isabella, Angelica Reyes did the same to her sourdough, saying, “Baking has always been a form of catharsis for me because everything is within my control. Everything in 2020 has been uncertain, and being in control of one thing even for just a little while gives me relief. Also, I’ve always believed in finding ways to have your passions reach a crossroad. So in this case, my passion for baking and activism.”