November 2015 is a great month for the Philippine Internet

Last month was great for the Philippine Internet.
No, I’m not going to say our Internet speed is finally as fast as Singapore’s. And, no, this isn’t because we trended worldwide again because of a TV show.
I’ve been tracking what has been read, watched and shared most in the Philippines for a year now.  (You can check out my early compilations here).  Last week, I noticed two things that stood out.

What happened in November 2015 that was so important?

There were two things that got my attention:

  1.  For the first time, all the top Philippine searches were not driven by Metro Manila. Or CALABARZON.

    The second most-searched word in the Philippines wasn’t even in Metro Manila’s top 5.

The second-highest search term was driven by Central Luzon, for two whole weeks in November 2015.


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The search phrase that was part of the top Philippine searches, but not in Metro Manila or CALABARZON:
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 6.53.28 PM
Yes, Central Luzon looked for Adele’s newest song more than people in or closer to Metro Manila.
Added context:
These were the most searched for phrases in the Philippines that were unique to November 2015 (“Rising keyword searches):

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 6.53.06 PM


And these were the search keywords we Metro Manilans were occupied with:

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It was Central Luzon (and to some extent, the Davao region) that pushed the “hello” searches to the top 2 spot for the month.

On to the second new and special thing.


2.  There are now a significant volume of searches in 7 more regions in the Philippines!



In the past years, there wasn’t a significant enough volume of usage for Google to measure Google searches in other areas.

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Until now.

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When I started collecting search data, Google could only measure the rising search keywords in Metro Manila (e.g. Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan), CALABARZON (e.g. Antipolo, Dasmarinas, Bacoor), Central Visayas (e.g. Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City) and the Davao Region (e.g. Davao City, General Santos City and the City of Tagum).

Now, it can measure rising searches in 13 Philippine regions.

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Why do these two developments make it a great day for the Philippines?

We’ll start to see the real potential of the Internet in our country, versus broadcast media.


For years, the American Internet / Web (please tell me if there’s a better way to phrase that) and particularly news outfits have been talking about “hyperlocal”.
With broadcast media, you can only do so much to make extremely locally relevant (town, municipality or niche community level) news.  You would need to set-up a formal infrastructure, using company resources just to make sure different towns get content that’s relevant to them.
BUT, the Internet changed that in nations with more widespread internet usage – bloggers, podcasts, websites could be written from anywhere and be relevant to niche communities across the country, and not only be driven by formal institutions in capital cities.

Personal choice (Control) and Distributed power (Reach)

In the Philippines, without enough connectivity throughout the country, most of the online buzz was still driven and controlled by Metro Manila, and Cebu City.
But now, finally:  we really get to see how online media differentiates itself from “broadcast” media, in terms of reach and control (personalization, always-on).
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We get to see how the different regions, cities and towns begin to have their own subcultures and patterns and see how it impacts the country’s media tastes.
I did nationwide qualitative research for years, and I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.  The day I’ll start to see the rest of the country have a voice in what gets shared and what is popular, as opposed to just the “key cities”.  Our country is so diverse, and for me, this just means it’s going to be a pretty exciting year for the Philippine Internet.

Check back week-to-week, I’ll do my best to share regular updates.  And if you want to help create something out of data like this, get in touch.



Digital to Analog

It may have started with the hipster love for toy cameras and aficionado loyalty (redundant) to vinyl, but now we have even more creative ways of bringing the intangible digital experience back to life outside the glowing LED plane.

1.  Double Vision – 3oH!3

Producer: 3OH!3, Benny Blanco, Matt Squire

Video Director: Evan Bernard

2. Facepark via

Facepark from Diesel


3. Revival of the ’90s elementary school autograph/ personal information book

romantic status

4. Human Tetris

5. Kind of like real-life Photoshop

ID Snapshot Makeover

6. Urban Cursor via

Urban Cursor


Death of the Beauty Pageant

The most ungracefully-aged topic on the news today is, I would say, the Miss Universe pageant.

Beauty pageants almost seem like one of the relics of the post-War era.  Like scenes of checked red tablecloths with picnic baskets and shiny, beaming kids in jumpers.  It’s like a slice of Americana, reminsicent of a time when people wanted to be more wholesome and see a bastion of solidarity.  Yes, apparently symbolized by a collection of “global” beauties, to be sorted and ranked as the most beautiful in the world*.

We simply don’t need pageants anymore, as the universal body of telling us the standards of global beauty.  The real creme-de-la-creme beauties of the world don’t join beauty pageants, do they?  They’re in marketing departments of major luxury brands; they’re on runways; in international commercials.  A few of the most beautiful women are the world have probably turned to prostitution or are unwed mothers who couldn’t handle all the attention to their prettiness at 16.

The truth is, attractive women are everywhere, and we probably look more to TMZ than the Ms. Universe pageant to tell us who the most popularly beautiful women are on the planet, at the moment.

Bar Rafaeli
Katie Holmes-Cruise
Katy Perry - Rolling Stone
Miss Universe 2009 Contestants
She is beautiful, I don't discount that, you know.

And so, Mr. Trump, maybe you haven’t been engaging in consumer insighting for your production.  May I suggest that you do some qualitative research to help you establish the brand essence of your franchise.  “What are beauty pageants still for?”, you should ask.  In a world where more people are likely to tune in to the Oscars (Yes, the Christmas eve of that oh-so popular religion of the Westernized world called Celebrity).

Say, for example, just using my own opinion as a jump-off point, (as earlier said) that beauty pageants’ central need delivery is a wholesome feeling of global unity and old-time-y kitsch.  You could have just played that up instead of trying to “modernize” with risque body paint pictorials.

Because, if you really wanted to be more timely, you would have a “beauties of the world” awarding – involving a live modelling/performance/talent- or attitude-demonstration event, after scouring the internet, pooling the girls then having the judges and audiences discriminate who the winner is with a set of criteria.

Or, even better, a “Self-Promotion Awards” night, to embrace and celebrate the democratic/ participatory spirit of the time.  Where the most aggressive, most popular, most well-crafted marketers of themselves (whether on friendster, facebook, twitter, etc.) can have their little spot in traditional mass media as well.

*I assume that we understand that pageants can’t accurately represent the attractive females of the planet (or universe).  And, that the judges’ own heritage (panel composition) is skewed to the Caucasian race.