It’s no secret that Filipinos are some of the biggest foodies in the world! Seeing friends and families gathered around the dining table, enjoying dishes fresh from the kitchen is a common sight next to rocking the karaoke at get-togethers. It can’t be helped, considering the Philippines carries a diverse food culture from one island to another. It was only natural for Reese Rayos to start wearing her food blogger hat because of her love for food.
Reese reveals The Foodie Station didn’t start as a one-woman blog. The blog’s inception traces its roots to Parañaque City, Metro Manila with three of her closest friends at a former job. At the time, they only shared one common goal: to eat at 10 spots and put their feet up before the day ends. It was that simple. “I didn’t even have an Instagram account at the time, and we had no idea at all that food blogging was [a huge deal] back then. I remember one of the stops was Burger Grill. To reach our 10-stop goal, we just ordered one burger and requested to have it cut into four parts. We were just having fun,” she recalls.
Following that day, Reese and her friends decided to give food blogging a try. The group dove into the uncharted waters heads first, starting an Instagram page that will serve as a diary of their food escapades. While the group’s lack of experience in running a blog gave them much room for improvement, they soon found themselves stuck in a void of their situation’s cons, too. The crew was moving too fast and not in the right direction.
“We were stuck with the notion that the more followers you get, the more popular you become. Hence, you become an influencer. It was a short-sighted strategy. We started without thinking about what the account is really for. There was no goal or objective. I told the group to drop that method. If we want to help the food industry, we should ensure that we have the right followers and relay our message accordingly. The ball kept rolling from there,” Reese shares.
The team eventually welcomed more members; and, as time went by, a sudden realization that each of them had their own priorities in life, too, soon began to sink in. Even the friendship that built The Foodie Station was tested. Reese knew from the beginning that it takes dedication to last long in the industry, and there’s only one way to move forward—through open communication. Thus, Reese and her friend — as the only active members left at that time — decided to go their separate ways, with hers heading towards keeping the blog running alone.
Despite wiping the slate clean, she felt that her experiences as a multitasker prepared her for this moment. Reese learned when to say no and strongly respected the limitations of what she can or cannot bring to the table as a food blogger—no space for overpromising. She knows that every decision she makes will also reflect on The Foodie Station.
“I am not in this to fool everyone—for them to think I’m some kind of an expert. What you see is what you get. If I like the food, I will post it. If not, I don’t. I believe that praising in public and giving criticism in private is the best way to handle things in this industry. At the end of the day, you just want good vibes all around!”
Turning your passion into a lucrative career is probably everyone’s dream, but Reese emphasizes that up-and-coming food bloggers should be ready to pay for food or hotel accommodation out of their own pockets. This doesn’t include other gadgets or digital tools that may be needed. She doesn’t want their judgment to be clouded by the typical notion that every post made comes with whopping perks. It’s easy to get lost in it all, but recognizing your hard work and celebrating small victories goes a long way.
“Think of your purpose. What do you want to achieve with food blogging? Answering this question would give direction. Invest in a nice camera. Anyone can be a food blogger, but taking videos and pictures of food is one critical aspect of food blogging. People will not be enticed if your picture is not worth looking at. In this business, the eyes eat first!” Reese adds.
Even though Reese has been posting her food adventures for nearly five years now, she has always remained true to what her blog is about—personal cravings. “Engagement and relatability are the keys to having a successful [platform]. I want my audience to feel what I’m feeling while I’m typing my caption when they read it. I love posting food that people can resonate with. A simple isaw (barbecued chicken intestine), egg pie, or lugaw (porridge) on a rainy day can go a long way because those are the same cravings my audience has.”
Reese can’t thank her followers enough for their support of her content, ranging from energizing breakfasts to the sweetest desserts. She even receives heartwarming messages from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), expressing how much her posts make them miss Filipino food. “As much as possible, I always reply to all the comments and direct messages. I will forever cherish my loyal followers. The blog is alive because of them,” she says.
Looking back, she never once thought things would turn out the way they did. She loves food and hitting the road for new adventures, but the Filipina content creator also reveals that her purpose is now very far from when she first started. Reese’s goals have now grown alongside The Foodie Station, and she wants to keep sharing her experiences as long as there are people who want to listen. Without realizing it before, Reese says she’s now happier that her blog can help to shed light on thriving local businesses that deserve everyone’s support.
“Whenever I get comments, mentions, direct messages saying they followed my recommendation, it makes me want to do more! The food and hospitality industry needs a boost, especially in this time. It is also one of the reasons why I’ve expanded to include travel. As long as they exist, we’ll continue to exist and grow together with my audience and these industries.”
Want to discover new spots for your food hopping? Save her Eat to the Fullest recommendations on Lemi!
Reese Rayos is on Lemi at @thefoodiestation!