Monday, July 07, 2008

Filipinos--the cookies, not the race

It's one thing to hear the stories, another to see the evidence up close.

Yes, it's true. There are cookies sold in Spain (and, I suppose, in other Spanish-speaking countries, which means about a third of the globe) marked Filipinos. Saw some in a convenience store near our Zaragoza hotel, and let me tell you--the sight was enough to jolt me out of my jet lag.

Filipinos. Not Filipino cookies or Filipino biscuits, but Filipinos. In three variants, all promising "Mas Cacao" (more chocolate). Enlighten me, but have you come across any other product, foodstuff or otherwise, that uses the name of a race or nationality as a BRAND? I've eaten English muffins, Belgian waffles, French fries. What I got was simply marked "Filipinos." It isn't quite the same, right?

The black-package variant contains round chocolate cookies with white vanilla coating. Is that a subtle if unmistakable dig at us? Brown on the inside, white on the outside? Ouch.

The product, made by Kraft Foods Galletas with address in Barcelona, Spain, has a website: "Unete a la comunidad: www.filipinos.com." I checked out the site; it offers promos, giveaways, a chat service. But nothing on why the product is named that way, or how it relates to the people of a country that Spain had colonized five centuries ago.

Ask me how I feel about eating Filipinos (I did--tastes good), or merely seeing it stocked on the shelves of convenience stores and supermarkets in a foreign country, and I've no neat answer to give you. The product seems to have been there for a while; to the Spanish, perhaps it's become as ordinary as their olive oil and jamon serrano. That ordinariness somehow disturbs me, pricks my pride. Why is the name of my race now the equivalent of cookies that retail for 1.31 Euro (one Euro is about P65)?

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive? What's your take on this? Let's talk.


23 comments:

royco said...

my freudian mind flashed the way you described your experience ... spaniards ... eating filipinos ... olive oil ... jamon serrano ... pricks my pride ... just too too revealing and sensual. errhhmm.

when i saw them in Madrid, i chuckled, and moved on using my filipino race as a sure passport to a free glass of port wine while enjoying "tapas" among the natives who regarded me as their "primo." "si, yo soy un filipino, como las galletas en la tienda." much to their delight, we would have a toast and yell, "salud!"

thank God i am a filipino! and am proud to be a filipino. irreducible by any association of sorts.

R-yo said...

The use of our race as a brand makes me sad. But what makes me sadder is that we heard no thunder, nor whine or whimper from the real Filipinos, who must be resigned already to the fact that our insignificant race can't even make a small foreign company backtrack or at least reconsider it's branding.

paolo said...

..maybe the guy who owned the store was named Philip?! =P

Darwin said...

I think we have bigger problems to worry about. It's just a name and it doesn't mean the manufacturers are trying to insult us by naming their product "Filipinos"

Misterhubs said...

I've savored a couple of Filipinos. They're very tasty. Except that one guy who's just too salty for my taste.

Hehe.

Jake said...

well, meron din sa pilipinas na "spanish bread", "lutong macau", "pan de americano", "kulangot ng intsik", at kung ano-ano pa, sensitive ka lang, i understand. we hate it kapag parang inaapi ang filipino but alam din nating nakakasuka ang karamihan sa mga filipino.

Therese said...

Hey, I've heard about these in my Spanish class! :D I don't have any comments on them though. Anyway, how was your trip to Spain? :D

Anonymous said...

I've tasted this and it's delicious. Means we Filipinos are soooo sweeeeeet....

it's nowhere insulting. In fact, we should be proud that it's a decent, sweet and really delicious chocolate. be angry when they name a porn magazine Filipinos... chill

Sisa said...

this is for you r-yo, "matayog ang lipad ng saranggola ni Pepe ... lay, lay, lay, lay ... "

gibbs cadiz said...

FR. ROY, you're right, we're irreducible by any association of sorts. still, i'm steamed up at the nerve to appropriate our name... on a related note, i studied spanish for 4 years at our beloved olps and never remembered anything, haha! sayang. :)

R-YO, same thoughts. how did pinoys or fil-hispanics THERE take it? :)

PAOLO, hehe, then he should have named his cookies philippians. biblical pa ang dating. :)

DARWIN, maybe--but, at the very least, wouldn't it interest you to find out why they chose the name for their product instead of, say, cubanos or mejicanos, both of whom were also conquered by spain? why filipinos? there is a story there, and it's not detracting from any real problems we have to try to find out. after all, pinoy identity is also a problem. in fact, i submit that at the root of this country's never-ending malaise is its inability to come to terms with itself and its past. but that's just me. :)

MISTERHUBS, hehe, i wouldn't be surprised! :)

JAKE, tama ka--but re 'spanish bread' or 'pan de americano' and 'filipinos,' do see the third paragraph of my post. i think there's a huge difference between them. :)

THERESE, an otherwise lovely trip, thank god. :)

ANONYMOUS, yep, it's sweet and delicious--but that only means we should be thankful out of luck, for something that's not in our control. what if the the cookies had turned out to be bad-tasting? and why end with cookies? since 'filipinos' has been appropriated for a food item, who knows what other stuff it'd end up attached to as a brand? reductio ad absurdum, i know--but possibilities are always opened up when a line is crossed. in this case, my question remains: is there any other foodstuff in the global market today that bears the name of a race or nationality alone (not as a qualifier, eg 'english muffins') as a BRAND? that's what bothers me. :)

SISA, duet tayo! :)

beektur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beektur said...

gibbs -- have some catching up to do in your blog. how was spain? can't wait for your piece about the expo. did the pinoy talent and pride show up in the pinoy pavillion, enough to distract the participants from the cookies? anyway, my spanish... ehem, friend and his family love filipinos (the people and the cookies) and think nothing negative when they savor them (the cookies). the ehem savors both. mwaha.

but there are more..and leave it to europe to appropriate their colonial history in branding these products. Bahlsen's Afrika from Germany; again from Spain: Conguitos (Little Congo people- has even Little Sambo as mascot, which is enough to make the Southern half of US rise in protest and catapult Obama to power if marketed in USA ). Then's there an array of cookies named after places: Milano, Bordeaux, Brussels, Tahiti, Geneva pepperidgefarm.com. What gives? What, Gibbs?

g said...

Rex Navarette actually did a piece on this in one of his albums, entitled "Racist Snacks." He was like, "so what're they trying to say, that we're brown on the outside, and white on the inside?" (I'm assuming that this particular variant was the original Filipinos cookie.)

Hmmm.. I think that the makers of these cookies never really intended to ruffle anyone's feathers by naming them that. Ivan Henares put up a similar post on his blog, and states that the makers were inspired by the rosquillos from our provinces of Iloilo and Negros, and named them Filipinos as a tribute to its origins. (By the way, Ivan wasn't really miffed by the whole matter - he loves the biscuits!)

The citizens of Hamburg are probably not that distressed over hamburgers, as are the folks down at Frankfurt over frankfurters. ;) (Both are yummy treats!)

On a side note, I've tasted them myself and really are exquisitely yummy. Were you able to try the variant, where they sell the holes (?) of the biscuits? Panalo! I brought so much of that stuff home. Mabenta! :)

Lastly.. I know I already mentioned hamburgers and frankfurters.. But Rex Navarette found a better racist snack for all of them white folk - CRACKERS. Just plain old crackers. hehehehe :)

g said...

Oh, and just to add..

When someone orders a Scotch on the rocks, I don't think William Wallace turns violently in his grave. :D I know it was originally intended to be a qualifier, as in "Scotch whiskey," but hey, no one ever orders a "Scotch whiskey on the rocks" anymore, right? So maybe Filipinos were once actually "Filipino cookies," diba? ;)

bokchoy said...

it's just a cookie.

jj said...

i don't think it's racist....

take it at another angle: pinoys bringing rosquillos to spain... the spaniards liked our rosquillos but noted it as 'filipinos'... then soon people just named the dessert as such....

the question is: is kraft's "filipinos" trademarked? if so, does it mean that the name of our race has beeen denigrated into an ownable trademark?

ipat said...

Shouldn't they be able to take back the name they gave us? Should we continue to call ourselves by a name that honors a foreign monarch?

I feel sorry for Jake who thinks "karamihan ng Pilipino ay nakakasuka". That's worse than racist as it comes from a Pinoy. Most Filipinos are gracious, friendly, caring and always smiling. There are stories that would tend to make you lose heart, but those stories are not representative of most of us. The sad thing is that they happen to be in power but they are not a majority. What hole has he been hiding in? Is he one of those kids who grew up in jail?

van said...

Then let's make a Pinoy-made jam and name is SPANIARDS. Jam would be ideal since after all, they used to stick around our country for 300 years before. And oh boy, we were in a "jam" for most parts of that 300 years.

Fair enough for you? ;)

gibbs cadiz said...

BEEKTUR, my original question remains: any other foodstuff out there that uses the name of a race or nationality as a brand, and not merely as a qualifier, e.g. 'bordeaux cheese'? since we've allowed 'filipinos' to be used in this way, and by a former colonial power yet, what would stop its further (and potentially less felicitous) use. we're lucky the cookies turned out to be delicious. we might not be so lucky the next time somebody appropriates the name for something else. :)

G--thanks, same concerns as i expressed to beektur and the others. :)

BOKCHOY, sana nga it's just a cookie. :)

there you go, JJ, you raised the million-dollar question. :)

IPAT, that's my main beef with the use of the term--how it denigrates us in insidious, covert ways by equating our identity with an innocuous supermarket item. we've allowed it to be used for a cookie. what's next? i don't know, the impact was perhaps harder on me because i was on foreign soil, i was a stranger there on a trip precisely to celebrate the reality and uniqueness of my race, and i saw it on the night of the philippine national day celebrations, after having witnessed and heard so much to be proud of about ourselves. haaay. :)

VAN, where is this jam sold? i'm placing an order pronto. :)

antoine said...

Hello. Was surfing for the website of Filipinos, the Kraft galletas when lo and behold, your post on the cookies surfaced. They are indeed very tasty and in fact, I was surfing to find out where I could get more after my son downed the last piece. My sister who is into history thinks it's no big deal. Like one of the comments said, maybe the owner is named Philip? Maybe not. Pity though because I think this will never be sold here because nationalists will take umbrage and will boycott whoever sells it, start rallies, etc. sayang, sarap sana.

missgiftsphilippines said...

ive read a blog that also says like this. and a thought came into my mind, how can a brand of biscuits be named after us? is it a compliment or an insult to us?

Anonymous said...

i think it's ok. ayaw nyo yun sikat tayo. kapag tyo kung makapaglait sa ibang lahi eh tuwang tuwa tyo. about the biscuit, it's not panglalait, kalevel na natin ang vienna sausage, french fries at amerikana (coat).

Anonymous said...

Thats some enlightening read..

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