MANILA, Philippines - Some of the country's prominent food bloggers have denied that they accept compensation in exchange for a good review.
Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet and Carlo Ople of New Media Philippines made their respective statements following food writer Margaux Salcedo's controversial article on the Sunday Inquirer Magazine 2 weeks ago, which cited how bloggers "pretend to be unbiased and unpaid but they are now being used by PR firms."
In the article, Salcedo claimed that a PR company ("The Firm") offered a restaurant ("Georgia") good reviews from a food blogger ("Big Bad Blogger" or "BBB") for a monthly fee of P120,000, creating a huge buzz among the Philippine blogging community.
Diaz, after being asked by netizens via his blog and social networking sites, maintained that he doesn't "get advertising from restaurants or places we feature, and freebies pre- or post-blog posts to avoid conflict of interest."
"Our Awesome Planet is NOT connected with, compensated by, or represented by any PR firm that would resort to restaurant extortion. We abhor that practice," he said in a blog post.
He added that his "conscience is clear and we do hope that the truth will come out soon."
Ople, on the other hand, went beyond clearing his name and suggested ways for restaurant owners to avoid being extorted by abusive bloggers.
"From a marketing standpoint, the restaurant owner overreacted. They could've easily countered it by inviting more food bloggers who would give 'balanced' reviews, especially if their food is that good. Now if most of the bloggers invited also gave bad reviews then the owner should look closely at her products," he explained in a blog post.
Salcedo didn't say who the people involved were, but she did recognize Marketman of Market Manila and Lori Baltazar of Dessert Comes First for "working hard to maintain (their) integrity."
Marketman, who was featured in the food and travel show of well-known boar buff Anthony Bourdain, thanked Salcedo for bringing this issue to light.
"I have RAILED vehemently against the lack of disclosure, the freebies, paid advertisements, etc. several times over the last several years, sometimes to an occasional outburst of indignation from other writers, press people, PR professionals, advertising folks and readers," he said in a blog post.
So who is BBB? Diaz, Ople, Marketman and the rest of the Philippine blogosphere are still waiting for Salcedo to reveal the people behind the so-called controversy.
In the meantime, they have to make do with the "Big Bad Blogger," a Twitter user who portrays the unnamed extortionist.
Not surprisingly, his first tweet was "Just ate at Georgia's restaurant."