Persons Deprived of Liberty

Bakeshop inside Silay prison gives inmates a second chance

Erwin Delilan

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Bakeshop inside Silay prison gives inmates a second chance

Allan Rojo, a chief baker of Panaderia Lokal inside the Silay City District Jail in Negros Occidengal with his freshly-baked 'uber flower' breads.

erwin delilan/rappler

Panaderya Lokal is located inside the Silay City District Jail and has four inmates as bakers

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Every day, at 5 am, the bakers of Panaderya Lokal begin their work. Before sunrise, the sweet aroma of dough wafts in the panaderia, a familiar scent in bakeries like this.

But this is not a regular bake shop, as we know it.

Panaderya Lokal is located inside the Silay City District Jail (SCDJ). The bakers are four inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who face criminal cases ranging from murder to illegal drug possession.

These days, Panaderya Lokal has become the talk of the town in Negros Occidental.

People started noticing the then little-known bakery for its banana moist cakes. It started with viral testimonials on how delicious these cakes were on social media on Valentine’s Day. On the cards on top of the cake box was the motto of Panaderya Lokal: “A second chance in every slice.”

This got Negrenses curious about the cakes as well as the bakers. In a way, the four PDLs and their products became Silay’s “most wanted,” but this time, in a good way.

Jail Officer 1 Jullie Ann Maque, in-charge of the livelihood programs for Silay’s PDLs, said the bakeshop is part of their initiatives to provide alternative livelihoods for their 554 inmates.

She said it was the city government of Silay which provided the P400,000 startup capital for the purchase of baking ingredients and equipment and construction of a mini-bakery structure inside jail facility.

While the flour company Pilmico supplied a continuous free training program for the inmates who were interested in baking.

Shop, Adult, Male
Other innates-turned-bakers for Panaderya Lokal at the Silay City District Jail during their baking moment on Thursday, February 22.

Panaderya Lokal was launched in time of the celebration of the National Correctional Consciousness Month in October last year.

Maque said though, they did not expect the program to be this successful.

“Anyway, taste-wise, our breads and cakes can really compete with other bakeries in the city,” Maque said, adding, “they’re terribly happy with the new development that highlighted our banana moist cakes.”

Panaderya Lokal, she said, has two goals – show a path towards rehabilitation to break the cycle of recidivism in the community, and to provide extra income to the inmates.

Hopefully, with their new skills in different training programs aside from baking, and given opportunities, PDLs will find work when they leave the jail.

Jail Officer 1 Armando Laguda Jr., in-charge section for the welfare and development of Silay PDLs, said they now produce a daily average of 500 to 600 assorted breads. These include ube flowers, pandesal, empanada, hopia (baboy and ube), and Spanish bread.

On special occasions like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day, they produced special baked products. Maque said 500 to 600 loaves of bread for Christmas 2023 alone.

On Valentine’s Day, they made 470 pieces of banana moist cakes which were ordered by the Silay city government for its mass wedding.

The Silay City Tourism Office uses its Facebook page to spread the word about Panaderya Lokal.

And it has worked wonders for this unique bakeshop. Maque said the provincial government of Negros Occidental has placed advance orders for Panaderya Lokal to supply assorted breads during the upcoming seven-day Panaad sa Negros Festival to be held on the second week of April.

Maque said Panaderya Lokal was also asked to supply the daily bread requirements of the provincial government-run Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia town.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old chief baker, Allan Rojo of Barangay Guinhalaran, Silay City, said he was happy with his job inside the jail.

Rojo, who is facing charges related to violation of Republic Act 9165 (illegal possession/use of prohibited drugs), used to have his own bakery business in their barangay prior to his detention.

“That’s why,” Laguda and Maque said, “as if Panaderya Lokal is ‘lucky’ to have Rojo as its chief baker right now.”

Inmate-bakers get a 25% share out of the total gross income every day.

The biggest chunk of the proceeds, Laguda said, goes to the bakery’s operational expenses,  and the rest to the other needs of (all) inmates, particularly during emergency cases inside the jail.

SCDJ is the only jail in Negros Occidental to have this mini-bakery business.

On the other hand, Maque assured the public that they produce not only tasty and quality, but also clean breads and cakes.

Panaderya Lokal passed all the health and sanitary requirements set by the City Health Office (CHO), she said.

“Our inmate bakers have their health cards, too, a proof that they also passed the health examination as required by CHO,” Maque said.

Meanwhile, “Daku gid nga bulig sa akon pamilya ang maka-trabaho sa bakery sa sulod sang jail (It’s a big help for my family to work at a bakery inside the jail),” said Rojo, a father of three kids.

While waiting for the  final court verdict on his case, Rojo said he would continue to perform well as chief baker of Panaderya Lokal.

He added cherishes every moment in producing quality breads and cakes not just for Silaynons but for the entire Negrosanons as well.

Once released, he promised to revive and concentrate on their family bakery business.

Silay City Mayor Joedith Gallego, on the other hand, said the city government is more than willing again to provide additional funding for the improvement and expansion of Panaderya Lokal.

Hearing the “good news” now about the status of Panaderya Lokal in just four months of operations, the mayor said that he was “beyond happy.” He will wait for the (next) proposal from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) as to what to do with the thriving bakery inside the jail.

“The more inmate bakers, the more breads and cakes to produce, the better,” the  mayor said.

Gallego, a former security guard-turned-mayor of Silay City, admits to having a “heart” for jail programs and projects aimed at advancing the welfare and well-being of inmates. –

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