Mark takes a food photo at a resto in Davao City, His Let's Eat Pare gathers foodies from different parts of the country through the platform of social media.

Let’s Eat Pare: food and online positivity

For online community builder Mark Tanseco del Rosario, his social media advocacy dubbed as Let’s Eat Pare aims to share online positivity thru the love for food.

“We wanted a platform for people to be able to share freely about the food they are eating, and hopefully helping the food industry and the economy,” Mark recalls his inspiration for coming up Let’s Eat Pare.

Started in 2016, LEP (Let’s Eat Pare) is a social media platform, which originated as a Facebook group page and now has an Instagram account. Users share posts of the food they are eating or for food entrepreneurs the dishes/products they are offering.

Currently the Facebook page of LEP has about 162,000 followers and grows at 500 new followers weekly. The Instagram account has 26,400 followers.

“I was a restaurant owner so I had a lot of challenges in the beginning and I spent so much on marketing, so I thought, there can be a better way,” Mark recalls his days as a food entrepreneur.

Mark got the idea from the many Facebook groups he joined which catered to numerous passions like watches, cars, and other hobbies.

“I thought, I can do one Facebook group for food because that’s my passion.” Then at around 1 o’clock in the evening, he created his Facebook group Lets Eat Pare with an initial 500 Facebook members.

The name was taken from Mark’s favorite expression “pare” or friend. “I would always use pare on social media,” Mark explains the origin of the name.

Mark says it’s a catchy term for the phrase “kain tayo” which hospitable and friendly Filipinos would call on friends to share a meal.

From online, the group has expanded to forging physical connections with get-togethers and shared dinner events. These have bonded the members into one tight-knit community.

Promoting online positivity

At the beginning, the Facebook group was a free-for-all affair as Mark allowed leeway for members to say a piece of their mind on the food featured in the posts.

He noticed that several up-and-coming food establishments or those who are getting popular or well-known were being bashed on the social media.

“That’s a Filipino trait that we are trying to correct, hopefully and I know its not just us who will take that advocacy, a lot of people must also join the movement of supporting local food establishments.” Mark said.

According to him, Filipino crab mentality culture rears its ugly head when one sees Filipino brands getting a measure of success, they will say something bad.

Bashing is not really helping the industry or the economy, Mark explains the toxic culture is detrimental not just to social media users, but also to the entrepreneurs who have worked hard to grow their business.

In the page, LEP declares itself as a positive community and there are 10 rules that members must read.

“We make sure that people follow these rules, in fact if people write something bad about a restaurant we have to send them the rules they violated,” Mark said.

Since the page started in 2016, Mark has seen changes in reinforcing a positive culture to the community.

“At first there was lot of resistance. People especially living in a democratic society would want to say what they want to say. We had to show them first what is the impact of that negativity, a lot of our members are not restaurant owners, so they don’t really know how they are hurting the industry by saying those words,” Mark said.

He says, there’s a more professional way of communicating your complaints. “You can talk to the manager or the owner, or you can talk to us and we can mediate, there are better ways than to bash them online.”

The former restaurateur recently visited Davao City as a speaker during the Digital Tourism Convention held at SMX Davao, organized by Globe Telecom and the Davao Tourism Association. Mark shared topics on the top food marketing trends in social media.

He recently linked up with several pioneering Dabawenyo members of the Let’s Eat Pare group. Among the plans is regionalizing the page, A Davao LEP page is in the works with the working name “Kaon Ta Bai” which is a Bisayan translation of Let’s Eat Pare.

The Kaon Ta Bai will focus on local food establishments and the foodie community in the region with the help of those members who are working in the local food industry.

Aside from promoting respect and a culture of positivity, Lets Eat Pare has provided also a solid online camaraderie for fellow business establishments. Some established entrepreneurs would act as big brother to newbies in the businesses giving them useful tips in operating their enterprise.

There are also success stories with some online vendors who were able to open up commissaries and some have began exporting their products, while others have found a network of vendors in the social media page, thus expanding their product distribution.

With its success in its online positivity campaign, Let’s Eat Pare has not just become a food community platform but also a much-needed vehicle to promote constructive values in social media.

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