Tag Archives: Philippines

She’s everywhere

On September 4, 2010, my org, the Junior Marketing Association – University of the Philippines Manila (JMAUPM), held a seminar on various online marketing strategies. The guest speakers for the afternoon were Zack Bulatao of CreatiVoices, freelancer Tricia Gosingtian, Camille Co of Coexist, and Beam Mariano of Artwine. Each of them shared their experiences as well as tips on how to market one’s brand. Miss Gosingtian in particular elicited much excitement and anticipation from the audience as she is the most prominent figure among the four.

JMAUPM EBOG and BOG with Tricia Gosingtian (Photo by Tricia Gosintian)

JMAUPM EBOG and BOG with Tricia Gosingtian (Photo by Tricia Gosingtian)

Tricia, despite the fact that she is not involved with any particular company unlike the other speakers, is arguably better-known because of her internet popularity. Since she uses a plethora of platforms to promote “Tricia Gosingtian, Inc.”, it is really no surprise that most of the audience members know her or have at least heard about her. It is her knack for for projecting such an appealing public persona that made her a fixture in the Philippine social scene and blogosphere.

Surprisingly though, Tricia shared that her celebrity status came by accident and insisted that she did not expect this kind of attention from people. She said that her so-called success stemmed from her “hobby of being self-centered” and everything else snowballed from that. What began as her simple outlet for her creativity (she is a professional photographer after all) has catapulted her to internet fame, so much so that she has approximately 19,000 followers on Tumblr (it is is ranked second in Topblogs.com.ph in the Fashion and Beauty category), 13,000 likes on Facebook, 9,000 followers on Twitter, and and 5,000 fans on LOOKBOOK.nu. She’s also in YouTube, deviantART, Flickr, Chictopia, and has her own food blog. One might ask how does a typical 20-year-old girl achieve this kind of feat (in less than two years’ time, mind you)? Her secret is remarkably simple: by being everywhere.

Tricia’s meteoric rise to the cyber-stratosphere is a well-thought-of and carefully-orchestrated effort on her part. By capitalizing on her initial popularity on Tumblr, she was able to redirect her readers to other web platforms in which she is also using. It is a product of a domino effect of sorts. When people see different links, especially to social networking sites, on her blog, the tendency is for them to click on them and eventually follow, like, or become a fan of her account on that site.

Organizations and brands can learn a thing or two from Tricia’s marketing strategy, specifically in tapping online communities and promoting online. In order to achieve online visibility, one must learn how to catch the attention of one’s target audience or primary stakeholders and have them tuning in for more. In Tricia’s case, she gave people something nice to look at in the form of her well-taken photographs and her insights on fashion. Brands should be able to captivate their target market by providing content that is both relevant to their cause and in line with the interests of their audience. Some actually commit the very common mistake of relying solely on the existence of a Facebook fan page in the belief that the mere presence of such would already suffice for visibility effort. In order to establish oneself in the internet, consistency and more importantly, active participation (responsiveness) of the brand is necessary to effectively achieve their cause.

Certainly, successful online marketing does not stop at existence for existence’s sake. To be a front-runner on the realm of internet promotions means that one should grab every opportunity (seize whatever popular web platform at the time) for marketing oneself. Only through that could one reach popularity of Tricia Gosingtian levels.


ThaiDara: Granada Street’s best-kept secret

My blog is usually devoted to my musings regarding communication trends, social media, and of course, fashion. However for this entry, I would like to play around a bit and do a post about food. Not many people are aware of my being a foodie, especially because I’m quite fussy about my weight. Granted that I have what my friends would describe as a “ridiculously skinny” frame, my love for food is not quite obvious and would take some careful persuasion (i.e. “Tara kain tayo”) in order for it be brought about.

ThaiDara: Bangkok Street Food

ThaiDara: Bangkok Street Food

During my on-the-job training over the summer, I had to walk every weekday from the Gilmore LRT station all the way to Granada Street where my office is located. When I first walked (or shall I say “trekked”) to the office, one particular restaurant caught my eye. Given that the entire stretch of Granada was dotted with eateries of various cuisines, for one to catch my attention is definitely something worth checking out. With its then-orange-painted walls, it wasn’t really a surprise why I immediately took notice. It was probably the citrus-y color which screamed “Eat here! Eat here!” which drew me in. The name “ThaiDara” simply sealed the deal.

ThaiDara's interior

ThaiDara's interior

It was quite obvious that ThaiDara served Thai food. As a frustrated traveler, Bangkok was certainly one of those places in the globe that I have always wanted to go to. I figured, “This is the closest thing to Bangkok that I can get. Why don’t I give it a shot?” Until that time, I haven’t tasted Thai food but have heard a lot about it. The usual comments were that it was spicy and savory. What ThaiDara gave me certainly exceeded my expectations. Soon enough I was singing ThaiDara’s praises to the heavens.

With James Bon and James Worrasaran

With James Bon and James Worrasaran

Opened in August 2009, ThaiDara is the brainchild of restaurateur James Bon and Chef James Worrasaran. Both were working in The States before taking a vacation in the Philippines. Not long after, they realized that they can’t find any good Thai restaurants that offered food with that authentic Thai flavor. Chef James, being Thai himself, knew all too well the unmistakable taste of home. His recipes which evoke his late mother’s cooking pay tribute to her dream of having her own restaurant but was unable to fulfill in life. The two friends decided to try their hand in the food business by starting their own restaurant with the promise of bringing the tastes of Thailand to Filipino palates. It seems that with James Bon’s entrepreneurial magic and Chef James’ 12 years of experience in the food industry, they have succeeded since the restaurant has had its share of regulars as well as a handful of celebrities (e.g. Ai-Ai delas Alas, Christine Reyes, Lance Raymundo, Denise Laurel, Venus Raj, and Ciara Sotto, among others) dine there.

Among ThaiDara’s specialties that keep patrons coming back for more are the iconic Pad Thai and the crowd favorite Tom Yum soup. I personally love the Drunken Noodle, Sassy Fish, Bangkok Spring Rolls, and Pork Satay. The irresistibly sweet refreshments (e.g. Thai Iced Tea, Lemongrass Iced Tea, Mint Lemonade) perfectly compliment the richly flavored dishes. And the desserts are nothing short of delectable. The reason why Filipinos have had such a positive reception towards Thai cuisine, according to Chef James, is because of its similarity to Filipino cuisine. The unique blend of spicy, sweet, and sour present in such dishes definitely appeals to Philippine taste buds. Given that that ThaiDara gives the closest thing to fine dining in Granada Street without the hefty price that is attributed to haute cuisine, it certainly makes it a popular destination among foodies who are in need of their regular Thai fix. A complete meal would normally set you back at 400 pesos; not bad considering that each dish is a masterpiece in its own right (“It has a little bit of everything,” Chef James says).

Just as impressive as the food they serve is the ambience in the restaurant. Its clean lines and minimalist flair makes dining such a serene and relaxing experience; perfect for having dinner with friends after a long and tiring day. What makes ThaiDara even more charming is because it somehow brings the vibe of contemporary Bangkok with photos of Thai personalities plastered in one corner and a television screen that features modern Thai music videos. They also paid homage to traditional Thai culture by incorporating certain design elements which evoked Thailand’s old world charm (i.e. pictures of Thai dancers on one wall, antique silver pitchers and cups, various wood carvings in Buddha’s likeness, and a Thai headdress which one can borrow and get photographed in). Indeed, ThaiDara offers a slice of Thai life as a beautiful mix of past and present.

Having recently celebrated its first anniversary, ThaiDara put up an “Eat All You Can” promo for us who just can’t get enough of their awesome food. Certainly I’ll never get tired of them anytime soon. I make a “pilgrimage” of sorts to Granada to grab a plate of my favorite Pad Thai as much as my free time allows me. Chef James, when asked what envisions for ThaiDara in the next five years or so, said that he and his co-owner James see ThaiDara as having more branches in the future but promise to maintain the home-y and very personal approach that the restaurant has now with its clientele. Now with that projection, isn’t that such a delicious future to look forward to?

ThaiDara: Bangkok Street Food is located at 56 Granada Street, Barangay Valencia, Quezon City. For inquiries, you may reach them via telephone at (02) 515-0469 or (02) 568-0651. Payments are on a cash-basis only.

How to locate ThaiDara

How to locate ThaiDara

Sample Social Media Release for ThaiDara:

Sample Social Media Release

Sample Social Media Release

Tumblr and then split (My case against excessive reblogging)

Each website has a unique way of obtaining its fair share of regular users and subscribers: be it through an innovative platform, a clever marketing strategy, or simply a fresh take on an old idea. We all know how Facebook suddenly took the Philippines by storm and in effect forced tech-savvy social butterflies (read: the middle class) to flee from the much maligned Friendster to migrate to their site. Most former users cite the overcrowding and the “lowering of standards” because of the prevalence of the so-called “jejemon” crowd. Facebook somehow gave the promise of an egalitarian society (free from outrageous custom HTML/CSS and a plethora of embedded YouTube videos and glitter graphics) that caters to those who believe that social networking should be done in a clean, streamlined, and user-friendly interface.

Lately it seems, that mass indeed followed class. Soon enough the everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, with the people whom the digital elite have ditched for Facebook slowly making their presence felt in the new “netizen” stronghold. And then came Tumblr. Tumblr was in many ways like Facebook except only a few people in the Philippines knew about. Once again, the upper classes came running to Tumblr, thinking “Sanctuary!” Whilst Facebook has yet to have its foundations crumble like Friendster and MySpace before it, Tumblr continues to be somewhat of an seemingly exclusive online community, despite the fact that it is very much open for all.

Why use Tumblr anyway? For one thing, Tumblr has the sharing features of Facebook (e.g. photos, links, videos, audio, etc.) minus the restrictive attitude it has regarding who can see what you post, much like unprotected Tweets are on Twitter. It is, for the most part, a great marriage between the two other sites I’ve mentioned but is actually a blog host site. Like Twitter, you can easily follow anyone you think is interesting enough so you can keep up with them. It takes away the awkwardness of having to ask permission to be someone’s friend, as with Facebook. Since it is a blogging platform in the first place, it is much like WordPress and Blogger in the sense that you can post whatever you want, when you want. In sum, Tumblr makes use of each website mentioned’s individual strength and condensing it into one.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic

But if it’s all good, then why am I even writing this entry? As an old-school blogger, it somehow disappoints me that Tumblr is just being used to rehash other people’s general statements instead of actually bothering to write an actual entry on it. Since it is immensely popular nowadays in the country (which, I may add, has a relatively poor educational system), more Filipinos are opting for the easy way to blog. It basically has little or no effort required to convey an idea. One simply reblogs and reblogs without actually divulging anything substantial from their life experiences, which of course is the very core purpose of a blog. I, for one, believe that any blog, micro or not, should be an avenue wherein people can practice their communication skills. Tumblr, I think, is a fad that cultivates the disease of laziness that was inherited by Filipinos.

I really have nothing against people who use Tumblr but for those who just join for the sake of reblogging everything that they see, it really bothers me. It has somehow become a popularity contest wherein people share information not because they want other people to see it, but for them to be credited and be followed. I feel that if one has to reblog, one must also provide some insight as to why he or she decided to reblog it. I must admit that it is somewhat hypocritical of me because I am sometimes guilty of being an active over-sharer of things I find interesting but there should be some substance to the person behind all the things that he or she shares. I understand completely that not everyone will agree with me but I simply want blogs to be like blogs again. It’s either that or consider Tumblr as an altogether different kind of service. The whole concept of a blog is somehow lost since what one re-blogs is not necessarily one’s own thoughts but the thoughts (or photo representing said thought) of another person.

I must confess that it is hard to rationalize my jaded attitude towards Tumblr and put it into words. Maybe it is because of my preference for “traditional” blogging (which is based more on writing) or maybe it is because I haven’t tried it yet. Who knows? I might try it later on so I can finally put to rest my dissonant cognitions regarding this issue. However, probably by the time that I do decide to register an account, everyone else might have already tumbled and split to a new social networking site.