AN ANONYMOUS vigilante food critic on Instagram, Masarap Ba (@masarapba), has pulled off a stunt worthy of a wholesome comic strip. She once gave BusinessWorld a pseudonym, Kat Abaan (read: fatness), and this Ms. Abaan recently collaborated with Novotel Manila Araneta Center for a food festival. Take a tip, influencers: apparently there’s a lot that can be done, even if no one knows what you look like.
The food festival will run until April 7 and features Ms. Abaan’s favorite food from small to medium enterprises. “I listed down all my favorite SMEs, the ones I often order at home. Inisip ko (I was thinking), if I were given the chance to host a feast for Kakultos (cult members; what she calls her 225,000 and counting followers), what would I serve them? So ayun (So there), it wasn’t really difficult because I’m already their suki (a favored customer). Gave the list when I pitched to Novotel and thankfully they liked it as well.”
Masarap Ba’s premise is simple. She goes somewhere or buys something to eat, and with hyperbolic, sometimes bitchy humor, she gives the item a verdict: “Masarap” (delicious) or “Hindi Masarap” (not delicious). BusinessWorld once talked to Masarap Ba (https://www.bworldonline.com/the-woman-behind-the-question-masarap-ba/), about a hundred thousand followers ago, and now the anonymous Masarap Ba has collaborated with a commercial enterprise — and neither of them saw each other face to face. This is according to Erwin Fidel Dona III, Director of Marketing Communications for Novotel Manila. The whole affair was conducted through Instagram and a meeting with Ms. Abaan’s team, but never her exactly. Ms. Abaan even told this reporter that she refused free admission to her own buffet, the better to prove that it was indeed, as she would say, “Masarap.”
The products she included in her list were those from places like Auro Chocolate, Tamago Chips, Benedicto Kitchen, Beth’s — a lot of them mom-and-pop joints which sell jars of sauces, bags of chips and the like. Our favorites were the roast beef from Benedicto Kitchen, with a too-rich, melt-in-your-mouth quality, and the Sisig Paella with Eddy’s Old Style Chicharrones. The products featured by Masarap Ba can all be found online. Breakouts in the dessert table were the Le Sucre Lab Dream Cake, made with rich chocolate that tasted creamy and felt velvety, and the Half Saints 64% Chocolate Tart. This tart was just an excuse to place a load of chocolate with a pastry crust added for decency’s sake, but we won’t judge.
Ms. Abaan had nothing but good things to say about Novotel. She admits she’s a fan, and stays a lot in the hotel with her family. She also said that the chefs are very friendly and down-to-earth — this according to an e-mail interview with BusinessWorld.
There are a lot of ways for Ms. Abaan to be naughty: she could accept appearance fees, get sponsorships and get thousands per post, but it looks like she’s using her power for good. Her Instagram stories are cries for help for missing or neglected dogs, and her posts about small-time producers of the sauces, chips, and roasts she likes so much adds to their sales: this at least, based on the Instagram stories of the people who buy the same products and tag @masarapba to acknowledge her influence. She says, “I don’t want Masarap Ba? to be remembered as just another witty account. I want this journey to be more meaningful by lifting others up.”
It’s sad though: that day, I looked forward to meeting her finally (though she has intimated that she has met this reporter at least twice, without me knowing it). Asked why she didn’t take this opportunity to “come out” so to speak, she said in her e-mail quite bluntly, and with some laughter: “Super-intense kasi talaga. As in hinahanap nila ako. Nakakaloka. (It was really intense. They were all looking for me. It was crazy!)”
Lunch at Masarap Nga Masarap Ba Meet and Eat is priced at P1,588 nett while dinner is priced at P1,688 nett. The promotion will run until April 7 at the Novotel Food Exchange. — Joseph L. Garcia.