Webby Award Nominated Abi Marquez on Plating the Filipino Perspective on TikTok

Photo by Oly Ruiz and Metro Photo Courtesy of Abi Marquez

With her quick and easy recipes, and recognizable cadence, “Lumpia Queen” Abi Marquez has amassed over 4 million followers on social media. The newly Webby Award nominated face of culinary curiosity talks to Vogue Philippines exclusively about the impact of food content to the larger cultural conversation.

“What happens if we make ____ with lumpia wrappers?” Abi Marquez’s hooks on her TikTok videos engage the audience with a playful curiosity that urges the viewer to stay for the result. Tagged as the “Lumpia Queen” because of her videos experimenting with putting different ingredients in the paper-thin wrapper, Marquez is most recognizable for her “Peach Mango Pie Lumpia” video in which she uses simple ingredients often found at home to create a well-known menu item from a Filipino food chain. 

At the She Talks Asia Summit 2024 in March, she spoke alongside a roster of impactful women including multi-awarded actress Eugene Domingo and former Vice President Leni Robredo. At events like these which feature women who have solidified their names in their respective fields, Marquez is usually one of the youngest people in the room. As a 23-year-old content creator who was deemed Foodie Creator of the Year at the TikTok Awards in 2023, and even more recently, nominated for a Webby Award, Abi Marquez holds her own with a youthful optimism and casual confidence in her craft, which she owes to her supporters. 

“I had a good support system, especially when I was starting out,” Marquez says. “They made me realize that it was important for me to represent a group of people, as a young woman who didn’t have experience in the industry who still continues to thrive in the space.” 

Over the past few years, Marquez’s videos had been endlessly reshared and recreated primarily by users looking for convenient methods to prepare meals. The users engaging with Marquez’s content on TikTok generously share their stories on the comment section: from Filipinos waxing nostalgic for their favorite childhood snacks, to Filipinos living abroad using Marquez’s videos to reconnect with their culture, to even witty ones of husbands playfully jabbing at Marquez for their wives’ midnight cravings. 

“The comment section on each video becomes a mini community,” Abi says. “Through these videos, food is not just seen as a mixture of different ingredients, but something that brings people together. It holds cultural significance and history.” 

Food is embedded into the Philippines’ social and cultural fabric. Filipinos’ consumption of food is inherently tied to familial values such as salo-salo, or gathering together to eat as a family, and the concept of the handaan, the act of celebrating through preparing food. Through TikTok, audiences gather in front of their screens to engage in these concepts with creators and fellow audiences. After two years in the pandemic, TikTok’s influence on food culture has become massive. Through the platform, food content has become extremely accessible to a wider audience, affecting local food scenes such as Binondo. Food content creators like Marquez actively influence a shift in the way Filipino food is viewed and consumed, literally and figuratively. 

Marquez beams when telling these stories, proud of the enduring impact of her content to different communities. “I don’t just make videos now, I contribute to a bigger purpose,” Marquez says. “It’s not just about making TikTok videos anymore, it’s for showing younger girls someone they can look up to, it’s about creating comfort videos for OFWs, and it’s for foreigners who want to cook for their Filipino families.” 

Due to the exponential growth of her platforms, Marquez’s content is now subject to a global discourse. “I didn’t start out [with that in mind,] I just made videos out of passion for Filipino food,” Marquez says. “As my audience grew, I found out about how well received Filipino food is globally, and [it helped me] gauge people’s reception of the content. I felt like I found a purpose accidentally.” 

With an audience of millions across Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, it is unavoidable for Marquez to receive criticism or unflattering reviews. She recalls her “Pinoy Spaghetti” video, in which she creates a spaghetti dish with Filipino ingredients that raised eyebrows from Italian food connoisseurs. This opened up a global conversation as to why Filipino food is made the way it is made: “Pinoy Spaghetti,” which is made out of banana ketchup, condensed milk, and chopped hotdogs, was a by-product of the lack of essential spaghetti ingredients such as tomatoes and actual meat. As her Filipino audience came to her defense, Marquez’s videos on this favorite Filipino meal became people’s gateway to understanding Filipino resourcefulness and resilience. 

Courtesy of Abi Marquez

Despite all of this, Marquez says she does not feel intimidated by the attention that she is getting, or of the pressure of becoming a meta-ambassador of Filipino culture. “It’s an honor, and it’s also very enjoyable for me,” Marquez says. “I feel like I’m very comfortable, and I’m completely in my zone when I’m doing this.” 

Throughout her life, Marquez seemed to have collected ingredients to become who she is now. Deeply involved in various organizations and societies throughout her academic career, Marquez collected skills in writing scripts, broadcasting, music production, video editing, and more. These skills, coupled with her passion for food and cooking became essential for her present career in content creation. Marquez, who had only graduated from college in 2022, also observes the value of short-form content to the current generation from a bird’s eye view. She views herself primarily as an educator who provides content people can learn from. 

“I treat these platforms as a way to teach people how to cook, especially people from our generation,” Abi explains. “There may be books on these topics, but this short video format is what the current generation is growing up with. We need to fill these spaces with information that is within their reach.” 

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