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Was Nutribun a Mere US Aid or a Symbol of Marcos’ Support?


By: Elena Grace Flores

The Nutribun Project was a Joint Effort

The Nutribun program was made possible through the joint effort of the U.S. and Philippine agencies. This is under the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ administration. Some local bakeries also cooperated in the project. The arrangement was pretty straightforward: the U.S. through the Food for Peace* program and the non-profit charity, CARE, facilitated the donations of wheat flour and non-fat dry milk powder. These are the primary ingredients of the Nutribun. The U.S. Wheat Associates provided technical assistance to the local bakeries through the supervision of the government. The basic Nutribun formula consisted of wheat flour (100%), nonfat dry milk solids (14%), sugar (12%), vegetable oil (5%), salt (1.5%) and yeast (1%). Later, an improved formulation swapped the wheat flour with soy-fortified wheat flour. It increased its protein nutrients.

Government Supervision

The baking of the Nutribun was done in schools. Those with facilities for baking or commercial bakeries took part. The Catholic Relief Services, the School Health Division, the Bureau of Public Schools, and the Department of Education did the distribution. Plus the coordination on the ground. The former First Lady Imelda Marcos gave them to typhoon victims. But her detractors were not happy about this. Her patronizing this improved relief product made it look like it’s her project alone. Therefore, they are jealous.

Symbol Of the Marcos Era

The Nutribun itself cannot escape from its political inclination. This is by virtue of the Nutribun program’s implementation and coordination during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. It gained notoriety for the bread. In fact, it became a polarizing figure of his era. There were varying opinions of it. But generally, they are good. The anti-Marcos media cannot discredit the former President and his widow. Without their support, nationwide distribution and modification may be impossible. This is why people would always remember the Marcoses when it comes to Nutribun. The President has this unifying capability that made everyone want to help. So, watch out for BBM demolition drive.

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