Project BUSAL: [un]Masking Human Rights Abuses in the Time of COVID-19 seeks a simple but powerful way to protect free speech and free expression by stitching the common sentiments of Filipinos on “statements masks.”
Three sisters launched this project to ensure that Filipinos will not be gagged in the middle of a pandemic. It was born out of a desire to find creative ways to speak out and express dissent while observing health protocols.
The name is a play on words. BUSAL is Filipino for “gag”, “muzzle” or “stifle.” Mask is another term for “hide” while unmasking means “uncovering” and “exposing.”
We know it is difficult to speak with a face mask on, but we feel it is harder to speak out when the state’s response to an outbreak is by silencing the people.
- By passing laws that give the government sweeping powers to suppress civil liberties.
- By arresting ordinary people who express opinions online while ignoring powerful figures who peddle fake news or flagrantly disobey quarantine rules.
- By weaponizing the law to punish critical journalists and media organizations.
The list goes on.
Since mass gathering are banned mass under our current setup, the BUSAL community hopes to fill the gaps by enabling people to wear their statement and walk their protest.
The cloth masks we produce are not meant to provide protection against coronavirus. But we hope they can protect our voices against those who wish to silence us.