THE owner of Azul Cebu has apologized to residents of Barangays Pasil and Suba after netizens expressed outrage upon learning that the restaurant had registered the name “tuslob buwa” with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Ian Lim Sekong, owner of Azul Cebu, met with Suba Barangay Captain Joel Sable, Pasil Barangay Captain Julius Guioguio and two barangay councilors at the office of Cebu City Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. to resolve the issue.
“First of all, I apologize. I apologize to the residents of Barangay Suba and Barangay Pasil for stepping on their culture but I never had a bad intention to it. Without hesitation, I am willing to return that name to them,” Sekong said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Officials of the two barangays, where tuslob buwa is believed to have originated, accepted Sekong’s apology. They also agreed that Azul will serve as a sponsor during the barangays’ celebration of Tuslob Buwa Festival in January.
Roughly translated to “dip in bubbles,” tuslob buwa is a popular street food made of pig’s brain and liver and sauteed with garlic, onion, shrimp paste and chili. These ingredients are dumped and stirred in a cauldron from which diners dip their puso or hanging rice.
Suba Councilor Roger Resurrecion, a former barangay captain who is a senior citizen, said tuslob buwa has been around their neighborhood since he was a child.
Resurrecion added that the original tuslob buwa recipe used ingredients such as ginabot (salted and deep-fried pig intestines) and empilya (fat from the pig’s stomach area or leaf lard).
Small business establishments would often use pig’s brain, flour and soy sauce as main ingredients.
Councilor Rama said Sekong, who was his junior in high school, did not hesitate to give back the name tuslob buwa to the people of Barangays Pasil and Suba.
The parties agreed that Azul Cebu does not own the intellectual property rights to tuslob buwa.
On March 3, Azul Cebu posted on its Facebook page that it owns the “tuslob buwa” trademark, with registration 4/ 2014/00008620, sparking furor from netizens.
Addressing the issue, the IPOPHL released a statement in response to questions and concerns they received regarding an allegedly generic word mark, “Tuslob Buwa” that secured registration from the IPOPHL in 2014.
“IPOPHL would like to inform the public that there is no prohibition to anyone on the use of a term customary in common language as a name of a product or service,” the statement said.
“IPOPHL would like to emphasize that due process is always observed throughout the evaluation of every trademark application it receives. The process involves search and examination. When the registration of the mark is not prohibited based on the criteria under the IP Code and the Trademark Regulations, the application is allowed and published for opposition. If no one opposes the registration of a mark, a Certificate of Registration is issued,” the statement added.
IPOPHL said any person who believes that he may be damaged by the registration of the mark may file a cancellation case with the Bureau of Legal Affairs of IPOPHL. (PAC / CSL / RSR)