Illustration by Neal Alday

I am not a food blogger
(The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

Remember Xanga? My cousin introduced me to blogging on a trip to the United States in the early 2000s. I never knew what a blog was until she showed me hers. It was her diary published for the whole world to read. I was amazed! So I immediately signed up and wrote my first entry (back then, this always included a promise of how often you’d publish new posts in a week). The bug bit with my friends in Manila and we started linking each other’s blogs.

Eventually, I moved to Blogdrive, Blogspot, LiveJournal, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.; there was a time I kept multiple blogs active, supposedly to cater to different audiences. I learned how to design my own site and got a DSLR for my photos. Remember when embedding music in your landing page was the trend? I cringe now. But despite the blog-host hopping and site editing, one thing remained the same: I always blogged truthfully — posts were always personal, revolving around an issue I wanted to address that sometimes bordered on the MMK-esque. I said what I wanted to say and remained unfazed by the prospect of losing readers.

Years later, I entered the food media industry and forgot about my blogs. Within five quick years, I took on various roles: as a food writer, I composed pieces on topics assigned by an editor, including but not limited to restaurant reviews. I was also an editor, which allowed me to produce food stories and collaborate with talented individuals. I then dabbled in food and prop styling, which is related but not entirely the same thing. The former focuses on making food beautiful for photos and videos, while the latter requires choosing props — plates, backgrounds, utensils and linens — that will match the food and the story being framed. In all these, I never surrendered my truth. Mashed potatoes were never used as a stand-in for ice cream in shoots. I did almost everything that involved food and media, except for food blogging.

I am not a food blogger. I can’t claim to be one especially without a website where you can see my work. I also don’t brand myself as a food influencer or what they now call “key opinion leaders” because my social media accounts have been in the dark for some time. These days, I enjoy eating my food without having to write down all of its components and taking photos of it from different angles. But when I still try to explain what I do, I usually get labeled as a food blogger. I smile sheepishly and clam up.

Don’t get me wrong: I have high respect for our local food bloggers, specifically the pioneers who make visits to their sites worthwhile. High up on my list of favorites is, penned by @chichajo, whose recipes are as phenomenal as her writing. Another one born to blog about food is Lori Baltazar of; to this day, I enjoy reading her stories from years back. And I can never forget the first time I met Marketman of to try his famous lechon in their first outpost in Makati.

But fast-forward to 2017 and food blogging faces layers of challenges. On the surface, there is the problem of good content. Pro tip: You’re not limited to writing about restaurants. And how about reviewing first your subject-verb agreements? Beyond these, you’ll be floored by the controversies that surround food blogging.

Numerous times restaurant owners have shared with me their encounters with bloggers, and most of the time, there are stories that only dampen the credibility of the whole industry. Bloggers have been called cliquish, and we’ve heard the invite list becomes an issue. Some would even go as far as bringing friends and family to events sans the consent of organizers. The recent “Tupperwaregate” controversy that spilled on Facebook also revealed ghastly decorum exhibited by some (someone ratted out a food blogger who allegedly brought Tupperware to an event, ready to take away the leftovers). More than these alleged acts committed by some parties, it is the values — or lack thereof — of some bloggers that is off-putting. There is the sense of entitlement, something the true pioneers never practice to this day. The most problematic statement I read recently was this: “no free blog posts.” It’s no secret that anointed bloggers are paid to write nowadays. No longer are freebies, giveaways, or comp meals enough as currency. Where is the truth if a five-digit check equates to a five-star review?

Hope is not lost though, because the flag-bearers continue to uphold credibility in blogging. Kudos to all of you! But there comes a point when it’s hard to weed out the good from the bad. So you’ve been warned: take those posts, reviews, and endorsements with a grain of salt. I miss the good old days of food blogging — back when they were sometimes a little too authentic for our own good.

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