Bawal Bastos! Tote bags carry meaningful designs

In support of Mandaue City’s proposed Bawal Bastos Law to address “the existing gaps and issues on equality, security, safety of both men and women in private and public spaces and to expand the scope of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, or Republic Act (RA) 11313,” the Zonta Club of Cebu 2 came up with a creative advocacy — it asked UP Cebu art students to make a design for tote bags.

The four best designs were used on tote bags which the Zontians distributed to various women’s groups, gender and development frontliners and barangay health workers in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu.

The most informative and inspiring designs chosen were done by Josh Kolleen Collado, Christopher Neive Hisanan, Nathaniel Sheene Nino and Anil Yap.

In an interview, the four explained how they conceptualized their works:

Bag 1 is by Collado from Sumilihon, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte: “The Safe Spaces Act promotes security to every Filipino citizen regardless of gender, giving equal rights and protection to every individual against all forms of harassment and unwanted actions.

Bag 2 is by Yap: “I started sketching and doodling as a hobby. I am currently studying for a Certificate of Fine Arts Major in Studio Arts. I wanted to approach the theme in an uncommon way and thought of depicting it through a chess game analogy as it relays the consequence of ‘making a move’ -- or relating it to a street term, it means to initiate an action (mostly flirty) to someone you meet or see in public places. It also tries to depict an uncomfortable scene where a Queen is surrounded by possible dangers of being ‘preyed’ by the ‘pawns’ and the ‘eyes.’ This entails that through the strength of RA 11313, any violation beyond that line is a ‘move’ made to someone regardless of gender is by the perpetrator alone and no one else.”

Bag 3 is by Hisanan: “I have relatives and friends in different ages, gender and sexuality. They suffer from what this Republic Act is trying to protect them from. They don’t feel secure. Instead they feel vulnerable and weak by predators who have so much liberty on their hands to harass other people wherever they go. They are afraid even if they only see a small glimpse of a shadow trailing right behind them. They don’t feel safe, yet they have the right to feel safe. Predators will never get to understand unless we tell, educate and admonish them that what they are doing is wrong.”

Bag 4 is by Nino: “Being born and raised in Cebu, everything I’ve known is by being here in the city all my life. My art comes from those experiences and the small details that many people tend to forget. Ever since I was a child, I grew up exposed to art by my family and I’ve learned to channel what I feel through my work. My piece tackles what it feels to be a person stalked by predators, hence why the predators are a literal wolf (for wolf whistler) and panther (for cat caller). Regardless of clothing, there are people who prey on those who they see as easy victims to manipulate. It’s important that we validate these issues and take them seriously. We need to hold these crimes as something almost punishable by law due to how much has been happening while a good few of society just push it under the rug. Being silenced has gone long enough and people should be aware of this unfortunate experience. We all need to police these predators and never have our human rights violated.”

The Mandaue City Bawal Bastos Law expands RA 11313 by making it applicable in all public spaces — government public areas and private spaces made for public use like malls, parking lots, restaurants, hotels, theaters or golf courses.


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