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    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines

    MANILA – The chocolate biscuit brand ‘Filipinos’ has finally made its way to the Philippines, and it has once again sparked controversy.
    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines

    Manufactured by Spain’s Mondelēz International, the Filipinos chocolate biscuits angered Filipinos, the people of the Philippines, as the local laws prohibit companies from using the name of the country or national in a brand.

    The 1999 Diplomatic Protest

    Back in 1999, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with the biscuit’s then manufacturer Nabisco Iberia, the government of Spain, and the European Commission. In the said protest, the Philippines calls on the manufacturer to change the brand’s name, pointing out that ‘Filipinos’ is the term used to refer to the citizens of the Philippines.

    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines
    Photo credit: Cedric Castillo / Twitter

    “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,” Philippine Congressman Heherson Alvarez wrote in the resolution.

    It was believed that the brand’s name is offensive because of the apparent reference to the cookies’ color, “dark outside and white inside”. Many believed that this was an allusion to the Filipinos’ penchant for looking white like Caucasians despite having naturally brown or dark skin.

    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines
    Photo credit: Cedric Castillo / Twitter

    With the brand being sold under the same name for over 40 years, however, nothing much came out of the Philippines’ protest. Also, although there are laws in the Philippines against using the country’s name and nationality as name of a brand, these laws do not apply to these international brands that are manufacturing and selling their items outside the Philippines.

    The 2019 Controversy

    Recently, GMA reporter Cedric Castillo discovered that the Filipinos biscuits were being sold at a membership shopping club in Manila.

    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines
    Photo credit: Cedric Castillo / Twitter

    After asking Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez about the brand’s presence in the Philippines, Castillo quoted him as saying, “It is not allowed to use a country or nationality in a brand. It may be allowed in their country or nakalusot, but not allowed here.”

    The DTI promised to launch an investigation in the matter as the agency could take action to stop the brand from being sold in the Philippines, even if it is legally allowed everywhere else in the world.

    Chocolate biscuit ‘Filipinos’ sparks controversy in the Philippines
    Photo credit: Cedric Castillo / Twitter

    Lopez admits that it is possible the manufacturer had not meant ‘Filipinos’ to sound like a racial insult as this could just be something lost in translation as the “chocolate negro” meant on the caption could just mean “dark chocolate”.

    — Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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