Blogger Agnes Walewinder’s post on eTramping about her poor opinion of Filipino food isn’t going to get link loving from me. Not because I am butt hurt or that I’m taking her criticism of Filipino food personally, but because I really think her blog post is so poorly written and its criticism has little value other than to call attention to herself.
Fellow Get Real Philippines blogger ChinoF probably has Agnes doing headstands and somersaults for getting some attention from some Pinoys who are only too willing to give it to anyone who’ll make even a mildly insulting comment about anything Filipino.
What is pathetic about Agnes is that she has to defend herself by commenting on Chino’s blog post: “I am not an ignorant traveler, but an experienced and respectful travel nomad who has been living and travelling in various Asian countries since 2011. I have tried a lot of different street dishes from Thailand to Sri Lanka and I felt disappointed with the Philippines cuisine the most. It’s my personal experience, but it seems like Filipinos hate everyone who has a different opinion. I’m so disappointed reading all of these mean comments.”
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A few moments ago, I felt like going over Agnes’ post sentence by sentence just to point out each and every flaw, but I figured it would be just a waste of time.
So let me just point out the flaws that run through her entire post:
One. The title is a sweeping generalization. It was originally “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Food Again!” before it was changed to “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Street Food Again!” The thing is the blogger was too lazy to re-write the entire article to take out traces of the original title and you’ll find her referring to all Filipino food over and over again.
Two. Lack of crucial details such as where in the Philippines she went to sample Filipino food. Even without a “selfie” to prove that she actually went to the Philippines rather than Google-sourced everything, mentioning exactly where she ate would probably explain why her experience of Filipino food was the way it is.
The thing is, Filipino food varies in quality from place to place and depending on the time of day, month, or year.
One paragraph in her blog says she went to the local market and found the food there to be of poor quality. She didn’t say whether she went to a small market locally called talipapa or a big market, which makes a whole lot of difference. And among big markets, there’s a huge difference between good ones like Suki Market which is clean, organized, and well lighted; and nasty ones like Galas Market or the old Divisoria market. There’ll also be a difference in what you’ll find depending on the time of day, if you go in the morning you’re more likely to get the better quality stuff than if you go in the afternoon. Why? Because most Filipinos do their marketing in the morning and the earlier, the better. Also, you’ll also have to know which market sells the best particular produce.
For all I care, the blogger could have gone to some roadside talipapa in the afternoon and based her assessment of Filipino food from what she found there. Even worse, she could have eaten at some hole in the wall karinderia expecting to be wowed.
Goodness! That’s like going to some random greasy spoon in the Bronx and basing your assessment on American food on that. If that isn’t ignorance on multiple levels, I don’t know what is.
Three. The entire post lacks any sense of organization that would make it useful for the reader and I hardly got through the whole thing on the first reading. It was ACTUAL WORK to try and make sense of what she was saying.
On the flip side of this fiasco, of course, are Filipino food bloggers who rave about almost any new restaurant or food product that they are introduced to and slug it out among themselves for invites to the opening of new restaurants or product launches — or so, I was told.
I don’t know whether it was last year or the year before that the word “Patay Gutom Bloggers” went around and it seemed some part of the Pinoy blogosphere was on fire. But perhaps that is the impression that people will have when they see people quarreling over restaurant or food product launch invites.
Just recently, I was made aware that the PG blogger fiasco is still going on and has attracted even more bloggers into the fray.
If I were a PR practitioner looking at the whole thing and was told by my client that they wanted invited a couple of food bloggers to the opening of their new restaurant, I’d have to ask what value would they expect a self-professed food blogger’s post add to the overall communication campaign?
It would help a lot if the food blogger actually knows a thing or two about food other than being gifted with the ability to stuff their pie hole, work a keyboard, and snap photos all at the same time.
There are people who know food and people who KNOW food, do you get what I am saying? There are people who spend a lot of time and money to find out about a particular dish or particular kind of food.
Take Charlie Gaw, the owner of Sabroso, for instance. I thought I knew enough about lechon until I met him. This guy claims to have traveled the entire country tasting the best lechon in every single province and he has come to the conclusion that the best lechon comes from Cebu. Thing is he says that not all lechon in Cebu tastes great and there are actually just a few lechon makers there that really make great lechon. Then among those lechon makers, there’ll be only be a limited number of the best of the best lechons.
Charlie is active on Facebook and I think still has a Multiply site for Sabroso (his brand of lechon). He is well known among lechon makers because he used to supply a number of them with pigs for lechon. He is also well regarded among restaurant owners in the Morato area in Quezon City and his social network includes some of the most well known foodies in the Philippines.
If I had a client who was launching an all pork restaurant, I’d probably recommend that they invite Charlie because I’d presume Charlie knows a lot about pork and his opinion about pork would carry a lot of weight.
Thing is, not all food bloggers or people who blog about food are like Charlie who can afford to educate their minds and palates. But at the very least, they should take pains to know more about food — how it’s made, how it’s cooked, where it comes from, etcetera.
Thing is, if you are writing about anything, it really matters that you actually know a lot about what you are writing about. Otherwise, you’ll come off like Agnes or some forgettable food blogger.
Conlusion: Agnes Walewinder’s review of Filipino food boils down to saying that she ordered a turd burger and is disappointed that it tastes like crap.