PanadHero: From Lumpia wrapper maker to viral TikTok content creator — Rex Gabutero’s journey as a lumpia wrapper maker

Members of Pilmico met with viral lumpia wrapper marker Rey “Rex” Gabutero in San Quintin, Pangasinan.

With the right content and on the right platform, anyone – even ordinary people can become an internet sensation and gain millions of views overnight. 

Such a circumstance happened to Rey “Rex” Gabutero, also known by his TikTok username “RexTalim1968.” Last July, he uploaded a video where he was seen kneading lumpia wrapper dough with his bare hands while wearing a cyan Pilmico apron. 

Rex Gabutero’s viral TikTok video while making lumpia wrappers has reached 16 million views. 

To date, the video has amassed more than 16 million views and added 42,000 more followers to Rex on TikTok. The video definitely gained the attention of many, including celebrities, that it reached other social media platforms. While the video got mixed reactions from netizens — a lot were also curious about Rex and the craft of lumpia wrapper making. 

To get to know him better and recognize him for his hard work, the Flour team of Pilmico Foods Corporation (Pilmico) visited him in a lumpiaan in San Quentin, Pangasinan.

From left to right: Gynne Peji, Marketing Services Flour Specialist of Pilmico, Chef Carla Valencia, Technical Service Manager of Pilmico Flour, and Rex Gabutero talk about the process of traditional lumpia wrapper making. 

In the Municipality of San Quintin is Rex who stays in a small lumpiaan that serves nearby wet markets. This was also the same place where he made the TikTok video. He said that he had no intentions of becoming viral, he simply wanted to share a normal day in his work life. “‘Yung TikTok kasi stress reliever lang talaga para sa akin, katuwaan lang. Hindi ko inexpect na maging viral. Noong in-upload ko ‘yung nag-viral na video, 4 oras lang, 6 million views na. Syempre, hindi ako makapaniwala,habang gumagawa ako ng lumpia wrapper nagsisigaw-sigaw ako!,” he shares.

Although Rex was excited about the millions of views he had, he couldn’t help but be affected by the negative comments he has been receiving since. 

“Marami yung mga panghuhusga at panlalait, sobrang dami. Kasi halimbawa sa 17 comments na natatanggap ko, siguro kalahati niyan puro panghuhusga. Pero syempre, hindi naman nila alam yung mga protocol at proseso (ng paggawa ng lumpia wrapper) kaya hinayaan ko na lang,” he says. 

Rex believes that perhaps his critics lack an understanding of how lumpia wrappers are normally made. He then revealed that he has been in the lumpia wrapper-making industry for over 16 years; he spent 10 years in a bread manufacturing factory and then worked at different lumpiaan across the country.

“Nag-umpisa ako ng 2006 bilang isang masador. Bago ako naging lumpia wrapper maker, nasa construction ako, nagta-trabaho rin ako sa farrowing sa farm ng mga baboy. Tapos, may kapitbahay kaming nagta-trabaho din sa lumpia wrapper na tinulungan akong matuto, at after 1 year natutunan ko na magluto, hanggang sa tuloy-tuloy na (ang paggawa ko ng lumpia wrapper),” Rex shares. 

Gynne Peji shares the Good Manufacturing Practices handout with Rex Gabutero.

During his stint as a factory worker, Rex learned the proper techniques and health protocols needed in making lumpia wrappers. To this day, he practices the same techniques and protocols even as he works in a small lumpiaan. Included in this is wearing an apron and hair net when he cooks, which is why in all of his lumpia wrapper making videos, he can be seen wearing the Pilmico apron the lumpiaan received as a giveaway before.

“Nakapa-attend din ako ng mga seminar sa mga protocols, kasi lalo na sa mga factory hindi talaga mawawala ‘yan…Kaya may dala-dala talaga akong hair net palagi kasi ‘yun ang nakasanayan ko. Kailangan malinis ka talaga overall, tsaka dapat naka-white (shirt) ka talaga,” he adds. 

Rex’s experience as a former factory worker has helped him maintain good practices in his craft which happens to align with  Pilmico Flour’s Good Manufacturing Practices in sanitation and hygiene.  

He shares his step-by-step practice: “Unang-una, kailangan maligo muna. Tapos maglilinis ng banyera, dapat hindi basa kasi magbubuo-buo ‘yung harina at mahirap durugin ‘pag niluto na sa kawali. Kailangan din pasingawin muna, hindi basta basta ilalagay sa plastic para hindi amagin.

Rex understands that practicing proper hygiene, cleaning the work area, and sanitizing it down to the smallest details not only makes food preparation clean but also keeps the shelf life of the food longer. 

To help him create more good quality lumpia wrappers and TikTok content, Rex received gifts from Pilmico including 3 sacks of Pilmico Flour’s Silver 168, and a new set of Pilmico cap and apron. He also got a pamphlet to remind him of good manufacturing practices made by the Pilmico Flour team, a tumbler, an umbrella, a gift check to a salon for his personal use. 

Rex receives a gift bag from Pilmico including a new set of caps and apron, and Silver 168 Noodle Flour, among others. 

When asked if he plans to continue making TikTok videos, Rex excitedly shares his plans of making more content once their lumpiaan moves to a new and better location. His content ideas include sharing the craft of lumpia wrapper making for the appreciation and understanding of more people and opening up his life experiences to inspire other lumpia wrapper makers, and ordinary people as well.