Local artists make ‘food’ protest art reflecting COVID-19 response

April 5, 2021 - 5:20 PM

Local artists used “food” to create art where they air their sentiments against the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year since quarantine measures were imposed over the country.

Facebook user and clinical psychology intern Rens Doc shared a picture of a “cake” that took a jab against the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), a task force under the executive office.

It was created through an executive order signed in 2014 which aims to assess, monitor and contain the spread of potential epidemics in the Philippines.

The IATF was convened by the government in January 2020 to address the COVID-19 health crisis.

Rens shared a photo of his “cake” after the lugaw or rice porridge sparked debate on essential and non-essential goods.

He said the “cake” only consists of spare icing that was done on round styro.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,” Rens wrote on his Facebook post.

“What is essential is invisible to the IATF,” the cake dedication read.


Prior to Rens’ post, the rice porridge sparked a debate on whether it is among the essential or non-essential goods after a GrabFood rider was apprehended in Bulacan for delivering it beyond curfew hours.

The incident prompted the Palace to release a clarification saying that all food deliveries “must remain unhampered 24/7.”

The IATF has been criticized for some of its actions like rejecting science-based proposals and presenting data that counters independent trackers.

Its chairperson, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, has also been receiving resignation calls for his handling of the pandemic in the country due to his “lack of competence, efficiency, and foresight,” according to some senators.

A 24-year-old visual artist Jacob Cezar of Jakestudyos last March 21 also shared a digital art collection, which is a parody to some famous food items to protest the government’s COVID-19 response and other incidents during the pandemic.

For instance, his Hansel biscuit parody featured the phrase “Cancel mass gatherings. Unless.” A sketch of the Philippine National Police chief could be seen beside the wrapper.

In May 2020, then-NCRPO chief Debold Sinas and his subordinates gathered for a birthday salubong or mañanita at a time when enhanced community quarantine was imposed over the metro.

One of Cezar’s art featured a Snickers bar advocating for mass testing instead of an extension of the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the strictest lockdown phase in the country.

The World Health Organization has been urging countries to conduct mass testing as a way to stop the transmission of the virus.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus previously said that cases cannot be isolated if there is no massive-scale testing done to break the chain of infection.

Cezar’s digital art collection also covered Sen. Bato dela Rosa’s “sarap ng buhay” comment during a past hybrid plenary session as well as the perceived “selective justice” for quarantine violators.

In an interview with Interaksyon, Cezar shared that there was no specific inspiration for the “food” digital art parody.

However, he shared that he used well-known food brands in his artworks so that they can easily be recognized.

“Nangyari lang na puro pagkain naisip kong gawan ng parody, siguro dahil na rin isa ‘yun sa mga pangunahing kailangan natin. Lalo na nung pagputok ng COVID-19,” Cezar said.

“Para din mabilis ma-recognize ng tao dahil din sa mga tumatangkilik nung specific brands ng mga food at/o beverage na iyon,” he added.

Likewise, Cezar shared that the parody intends to reflect the sentiments of the masses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nag-ugat talaga sya sa paulit-ulit na pagdeklara ng extension ng ECQ, samantalang walang ginagawang mas konkretong hakbang para mawakasan itong pandemya. ‘Yung call ng tao noon sa mass testing… na nakalutang pa rin hanggang ngayon, kahit higit isang taon na yung lumipas,” the virtual artist said.

“Tapos ayun. Naisipan namin maglabas o gumawa pa ng mga parodiya para mas maraming maabot yung mga panawagan,” he added.

The young virtual artist, who is also a performance poet at Titik Poetry, said that digital art shared on social media is an effective way to engage netizens.

As of writing, the digital art collection created by Cezar has earned 1,000 reactions and 1,900 shares.

Facebook user Joshua Punzalan Bergado also recreated Cezar’s art using pencil and paper in a Facebook post last Saturday. His post has gained over 11,000 shares.