Who Is Jeff Ortega?
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
Last night, Twitter exploded after a video of Department of Tourism-Ilocos director Jeff Ortega went viral after he introduced Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as a former senator… and the vice president of the Philippines during a regional tourism event.
Ortega quickly got dumped on by users with many calling for a public apology. The DOT, in turn, released a reminder to officials to "perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence and professionalism." Ortega responded by putting his Instagram profile on private, and deactivating his Twitter account. Here's what you need to know about Department of Tourism-Ilocos director Jeff Ortega.
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He comes from the Ortega political clan of La Union.
Born March 19, 1990, Ortega is the son of former La Union governor and city mayor Manuel "Manoling" Ortega. Currently, Ortega's brother Francisco Emmanuel "Pacoy" Ortega III is the governor of La Union.
The Ortega clan's history in politics goes back several generations, however. The first was Joaquin Ortega who took his place as governor of La Union on August 15, 1901 until 1904. Yes, during American colonial rule. The Manila Times has even gone as far as calling the family the "longest existing political dynasty in the country."
He's in a relationship with actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
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The couple made their relationship public on February 23, 2016. In an interview with PEP.ph, Curtis-Smith said: "It's not naman I'm hiding it or whatever. It was just like, that's the part of me that I want to myself first before people will eventually find out."
In November 2019, rumors about a break-up between the couple came about. Curtis-Smith denied them, and added that they were happy. Most recently, Curtis-Smith wished Ortega a happy birthday back in March. She wrote:
Happiest birthday to my man @jeffortega that can make any room light up brighter and to the one that my family constantly looks for! I love you heaaaaaaps my bb, my love, my #poffertjeff! You know the rest.
He was appointed as a DOT regional director in 2019.
On September 2, 2019, the then 29-year-old Ortega took his oath as the youngest official of the DOT. He was joined by his girlfriend actress Curtis-Smith who congratulated him in a series of Instagram story posts.
He also took to Instagram to mark the occasion, saying:
Finally assumed my post as the youngest Regional Director for Tourism in the Philippines today. Thank you to President Rodrigo Duterte for strengthening the youth and giving us an opportunity to serve the Filipino people as well as to the current Secretary of Tourism @bernsrp for trusting me with the tough but exciting new job! I still have a long way to go but i’m looking forward to gaining more experiences during my term with my new DOT family. To God be the Glory #SustainableTourism #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #MoreFunForever.
In the same post, he was congratulated in the comments by friends including Jolo Revilla, Sandro Marcos, KC Concepcion, Gretchen Ho, Gab Valenciano, Kean Cipriano, and even Curtis-Smith's mother Carmen.
He's an entrepreneur with multiple tourism businesses.
If you've been to La Union, chances are you've indulged in one of Ortega's businesses. His portfolio includes the La Union Surf School, the La Union franchises of Stoked Inc. and Ripcurl Philippines, as well as burger joint Mad Monkeys. Plus, he also runs the La Union Soul Surf Music Festival.
In a 2016 interview, Ortega talked about his start as a businessman. "My father always wanted me to take up law school and eventually run for politics," he says. "But surfing happened. I try my best to complement both things by consistently pushing surf tourism, because it creates jobs locally and helps strengthen small businesses."
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He was slammed on Twitter after the video went viral.
See what users had to say in the tweets below.