Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of interviewing Ditas Antenor. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Spotlight on BF HomeSarap, The Village Home-Cooked Food Directory
Do you love home-cooked food? Do you love BF Homes, the very large residential-commercial community that occupies portions of Muntinlupa, Parañaque and Las Piñas? Do you love grouping together on Facebook forming a very lively online community?
If you love all three, then you cannot go wrong with the BF HomeSarap Facebook group!
BF HomeSarap is not just any food-oriented, regional group on the social network. It is one of the fastest growing FB groups that highlights home cooking, good tastes, small enterprise and the BF Homes community members (plus friends).
BF HomeSarap’s growth in terms of membership is truly amazing. The FB group only started on April 2019 and from zero members it attracted to more than eight thousand (8,000+) members as of this writing! By comparison, there are other BF Homes-related (plus Barangay BF Homes-related) FB groups that lasted for years and still their respective memberships were exceeded by BF HomeSarap.
The FB group has described itself to be the resource for delicious home-cooked food (and drinks) right inside the village. As big businesses are prohibited, BF HomeSarap allows foodie sellers to post their specialties by showing pictures of the products, the name of the food or drink, prices and how they are being sold. What is notable about the group is that the people who make food at home are granted valuable opportunities to reach out to other members who might be interested to buy from them. In a business sense, the small food enterprises are able to make themselves known and gain chances to grow not only with selling products but also attracting new customers and establishing new business relationships.
And then something significant happened on December 7 and 8, 2019 – selected BF HomeSarap members came out in full force as sellers in the first-ever BF HomeSarap Community Food Fair and Bazaar which was held at the open-air basketball court and at the nearby covered stretch inside BF NorthWest, Parañaque City. That community event, which was organized by village governor-at-large Lorea Miren in cooperation with the BF NorthWest Homeowners Association and supported by PARA APP, was a big success as it attracted between 250 to 300 visitors (including Parañaque City Councilors Jackie Bustamante-Mendoza and Wahoo Sotto) and almost all the vendors sold out! Apart from that, a strong spirit of community interaction, business and socializing took place.
With all of these mentioned, you must be wondering: Who started BF HomeSarap in the first place? Why was it established? How did it happen? Where will BF HomeSarap head to now that its presence online and within the real environment inside BF Homes has been felt?
For all of you, my readers and food enthusiasts, I am happy to present to you my interview with BF HomeSarap founder and food stylist Ditas Antenor.
To begin with, Ditas Antenor worked in the corporate world as an advertising executive and worked with her employer’s big-time clients. After more than a decade managing multinational accounts in various multinational ad agencies, she moved on to the production side and there she became a food stylist. She even spent time in the United States to learn about food styling (for print and broadcast).
“I decided back then to take up food styling because I made plans regarding my career ahead of time,” Antenor recalled. “I really planned ahead. I could quit my nine-to-five job and engage in freelancing. So what would be a good, lucrative freelance job that I know I could be good at? That was food styling which is rare (in the Philippines.)”
Back then, food stylists in the Philippines were rare. Antenor became the fifth among the already established food stylists at the time. She eventually got hired by some clients and established herself nicely. Raised as an Alabang Girl, she and her children currently live in the Las Pinas City part of BF Homes subdivision.
BF HomeSarap’s origin and tremendous growth within Facebook
So how did BF HomeSarap started as a group within Facebook? It all started with a trigger on the part of its founder Ditas Antenor.
“There was a trigger. It was related to me and my kids moving into BF Homes subdivision coming from Alabang. Our house here in BF has been around for a very long time,” Antenor said. “My kids grew up with my cooking. Although they enjoy commercial foods like pizza or burgers that can be ordered, they can only eat those sometimes and ultimately they still love home-cooked food.”
Being the highly focused planner she has always been, Antenor had prepared menus for their family up to a few months ahead. She does the home cooking and, from time to time, her children cook adding variety. The love for home cooking, good food and relationships all connected with the beginning of BF HomeSarap.
“Then one day, I said to myself ‘maybe I should form a group’. I’m not an original member of the BF Homes community but still this is our home, even if I still maintain and occasionally stay in our Alabang house” Antenor recalled. “After doing an initial search for food-related FB groups that were related to BF Homes, I formed an FB group for BF by BF focused on home-cooked food.”
Along the way, the founder recalled her efforts on forming a name for the FB group that is unique and would strongly resonate with food enthusiasts and BF Homes residents and stakeholders. The result, clearly, was BF HomeSarap which was a clever combination of the name of the subdivision as well as the Tagalog word “Sarap” (English: Delicious).
“The name BF HomeSarap was formed out of my intention to include the local community’s name while reflecting people’s enjoyment of good home-cooked food. It had to be catchy and relevant at the same time. After searching for possible combinations of words, I came up with ‘sarap’ to partner with BF Homes,” she stated.
BF HomeSarap was created on April 2019 by Antenor reflecting her interest of good, home-cooked food her children would enjoy while establishing ties with the many members of the BF Homes community who share her interest.
The result? The membership of BF HomeSarap on Facebook went from zero to over eight thousand as of this writing. The members were a big mix of food enthusiasts as well as home-based cooks who are quietly selling food or drinks through their respective small-sized businesses. Already several small-time food sellers posted food or beverages for sale complete with contact numbers, prices, ways on how to avail of ordered items and the like. BF HomeSarap excludes the bigger, commercial food sellers giving more space and priority to the small ones. Along the way, there were a lot of buyers who had been searching for tasty home-cooked food. The result is BF HomeSarap establishing itself as a very lively online community whose members are united by home-cooked food and delicacies.
Of course, not just anyone could join the BF HomeSarap FB group. With the help of a few friends (who lived in BF Homes for a long time) and her daughter, Antenor and her co-administrators carefully review the many pending applications of FB users who wanted to join in as well as the many private messages sent.
“The membership of BF HomeSarap just kept on growing fast. Along the way, we made sure it would not become just another buy-and-sell type of Facebook group. I really wanted it to be an online community about good, home-cooked food and BF Homes which will be engaged with good quality content from time to time. I really want community engagement,” she said.
To engage the BF HomeSarap group members, Antenor researched online about the latest food trends, what kind of food people like lately, cooking tips, recipes and the like. The result was her releasing unique content in the form of articles, short videos, special greetings and customized images that get posted in the group occasionally. This approach of hers helped keep BF HomeSarap interesting and engaging, and prevented it from becoming stale or getting too flooded with sales-related posts.
For the future, Antenor stated that she is still striving to come up with ideas to make life better for the sellers and buyers of the group. She is exploring how to establish a dedicated delivery system that will carry BF HomeSarap’s name and cater to the clients’ needs. She and her team are also looking for other enclaves around BF Homes that could possibly host the next edition of the BF HomeSarap Community Food Fair this year.
With almost 9,000 members counted (and growing) and continued daily engagement, BF HomeSarap is undoubtedly the premier FB group focused on home-cooked food with the people of BF Homes in mind. Even FB users from the rest of South Metro Manila noticed the group.
“BF Homes is very unique,” Antenor said in relation to the group’s phenomenal growth and influence.
Ditas Antenor’s Message to the Readers
“When I cook, I continue to engage the community. There is, indeed, a wealth of home-cooked food in this community. You just need to look for it. You just need to know who cooked it. Also, level up your food in terms of nutrition and quality. If you want good food for your family, aim for home-cooked. It can be cheaper and yet it can be prepared with the same love and care for the family.”
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Note: Article cover photo contains images from the book “SULÓ: Where Taste Was Style”, written by author/founder Erlinda Panlilio, published in 2015 by Anvil Publishing.