The best food account goes to… Mayor Rex Gatchalian’s – Manila Bulletin

In between Covid updates, the mayor of Valenzuela retweets tasty food photos and even helps promote the home chefs and small businesses of his city

My Twitter feed is fairly serious. I follow various news agencies, public figures, and government officials to keep updated. 

That is why I could not understand where all these food posts were coming from. Not that it was a bad thing. It was actually a pleasant surprise. There was a moment of respite amids all the news, good and bad. I would see a mouth-watering treat on my screen. Virtual snacks break if you will.

It was easy enough to find out who the culprit, the mysteryfood re-tweeter and liker, was. To my surprise, it wasn’t a relative whom I followed to be polite, but a government official I followed to keep updated with the news: Mayor Rex Gatchalian.

In between a general community quarantine (GCQ) announcement and posts promoting Valenzuela City’s contact tracing center, I see Japanese takoyaki. In between photos of students receiving activity packs, there are tasty looking burgers. As he courteously replies to his constituents, he also retweets chicken wings and lumpiang Shanghai.

Upon analysis, he does not seem to discriminate towards any one type of cuisine. He seems open to fancy food as well as fast or even street food. From appetizers to mains to desserts, all courses are represented. Although, I suspect he has a sweet tooth, with desserts getting a fair share of the screen time.

Maybe if life took him towards another direction he would have been an esteemed food critic.Instead, he went down the road of being a public official, first in the House of Representatives and now as the Mayor of Valenzuela City. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a virtual snack break once in a while, especially with his high approval ratings amidst the pandemic.

Recently, Mayor Rex’s food posts have been closer to home. Frequently using the hashtags #SupportLocal, #KainNaValenzuela, and #ValenzuelaEats, he has been using his platform to promote local home chefs and small food businesses in Valenzuela.

In the Philippines, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ roughly two-thirds of the population. Not only are they the backbone of our economy, it also promotes entrepreneurship in our countrymen.

He deserves a virtual snack break once in a while.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), accommodation and food service activities is the second largest industry sector of SMEs, after wholesale and retail trade. The boost has largely been attributed to the Philippines’ growth in tourism that has undoubtedly suffered recently.

As unemployment in the country rises, people are turning to online selling and setting up microbusinesses to support themselves and their families. But SMEs are especially vulnerable during this economic downturn. They are usually reliant on steady and continuous cash flow. What revenue is earned often goes right back into the business as an investment. Few firms have a cash runway that will allow them to wait out the pandemic. The smaller staff size is also more impacted than larger corporations; one illness can disrupt the whole system at work.

There are a lot of big questions in terms of government support for these SMEs. But there is something to be said about the Mayor’s regular recognition of small businesses and how theycontribute to the economy and to the community. From the local panaderia trying to get used to online orders to a now out-of-work parent trying to earn enough by baking cookies. They may not be able to get the same coverage as larger food and beverage firms, but they get the foodie Mayor’s stamp of approval.

At least one Twitter user asked one of the most important questions in all this.

Anopo favorite food mo, Mayor (What is your favorite food, Mayor)?”

To which Mayor Rex simply replied, “Marami (A lot).”