The city of Malabon, like most cities in Metro Manila, has a trove of tourist spots not many are as familiar with as, say, Intramuros in Manila. Malabon, which is part of the sub-region of Metro Manila called CAMANAVA (Caloocan City, Malabon City, Navotas City and Valenzuela City), has old churches, well-preserved old houses, art galleries, a famous zoo and recently, food haunts.
Perhaps part of the reason Malabon’s dining spots are becoming much more prominent is another not-so-secret fact about the city: no less than the Mayor himself, Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta III, is its unlikely foodie-influencer?
Yes, it is not the First Lady of Malabon Melissa Oreta, a respected chef who is also the number one champion of the city’s culinary offerings, but her husband who now has more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, and whose videos have gathered more than a million views.
“I’ve always loved eating. Before I married my wife, I used to eat crispy pata every week in Judy Ann’s. But now Melissa cooks healthy food daily, but I still get to enjoy what Malabon has to offer by visiting unlikely establishments and introducing them to my Facebook followers,” Mayor Oreta said.
For his first video, Mayor Oreta visited a hole-in-the-wall establishment that serves chicken and pancakes called Chitis. His staff wondered if the mayor would be comfortable introducing the restaurant via a live video feed, but he also decided to record as well. Even without a script, the mayor’s spiel was lively and engaging, and his constituents were quick to support the video with comments and likes.
“I did this to promote places that are serve really delicious food! I encourage people to go out of their way to visit the restaurant.”
The best part?
“The restaurants I visited actually report to us saying their sales spiked! People would visit the restos and order the same food I ordered and then they also end up trying out other items. It’s funny; some of them actually thought I own these places, but really, I just like to eat!”
Another surprising outcome? Many of the restaurants operating in the city feel encouraged to have their businesses registered. “Admittedly, some businesses like restaurants operate without a business permit, but when we started doing these surprise videos, many really go out of their way to have their establishment registered, which is a big help to the city.”
Today, the mayor chooses to visit restaurants and food hubs unannounced, to the delight of the owners.
“I enjoy going there without prior plans. Most of the time, these establishments would refuse payment for those I ordered, but of course I would make sure that I do pay.”
Mayor Oreta also shared that Malabon, has so much to offer than just the usual Pancit Malabon and pichi-pichi, for which the city is famous.
“We have what we like to call Kalye Masarap in Concepcion because that short strip has so much to offer when it comes to the best unusual yet delicious food. If you visit the Concepcion Market, you’ll find delicacies native like okoy ng Malabon, tapang kabayo and my favorite, the Malabon kikiam.”
The mayor also encourages his viewers, both from Malabon and surrounding cities, to try out some of his favorite food spots. His top choices include Chitis for the chicken and pancakes; then Ompong’s Kitchen for the sinigang na lechon. “It’s located in a place that’s not usually known for food, so it’s a surprising discovery.”
The mayor’s third choice is Pizza Hub, next is Judy Ann’s for the popular crispy pata. Lastly, for good old lutong bahay of Malabon delicacies, the mayor suggests Betsy’s.
Mayor Oreta also hopes that aside from promoting Malabon as a culinary destination, he also hopes to grow his online reach so he could easily disseminate important information regarding ongoing city projects such as the city’s nutrition drive.
To see more of Mayor Oreta’s food vlogs and city updates, check out his official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LenLenOreta.