A nation of social networks

Summary:It's easy to make this claim, but I have no doubt in my mind that the Philippines is the most savvy country in the world in using Web-based social networks. Way before Facebook and MySpace even became popular in the U.

It's easy to make this claim, but I have no doubt in my mind that the Philippines is the most savvy country in the world in using Web-based social networks. Way before Facebook and MySpace even became popular in the U.S., Filipinos have already been using Friendster-–perhaps the grandmother of all social networks.

It's fairly common to encounter a bunch of teenagers or students who would ask each other for their Friendster accounts instead of e-mail addresses. For some, it's the perfect way to earn new friends or reconnect with long-lost relatives and classmates.

Friendster's numbers prove that Filipinos are indeed the pre-eminent social animals in the Internet. According to a report written by Ike Suarez of The Manila Times, there are about 30 million Filipinos who are using Friendster--the most number by any nationality.

Suarez quoted Friendster's PR and marketing director Jeff Roberto, who said 85 million people around the world had registered with the social network and that 60 million of them were from Asia. This makes Friendster the top "online social network in Asia and number three globally".

Citing Roberto, Suarez wrote that the closest countries to the Philippines, in terms of subscriber numbers, were Indonesia at 11 million, Malaysia at 6.1 million, and Singapore at 1.8 million.

But, sadly for Friendster, it seems that it's only in this part of the world where its flag is still flying high. As we all know, MySpace and Facebook have mightily seized the lead with their marketing prowess and some bits of innovation. In fact, I've closed my Friendster account about five years ago when I sensed that there was nothing new left to do except count the number of friends I have. I'm sure a lot of account holders felt the same.

Seeing an opportunity, MySpace, and later on Facebook, came in and introduced enhancements in the form of various applications that enriched user experience. It was also during this period that Multiply.com popped up and offered an easy-to-use photo-uploading application that instantly clicked with the camera-loving Pinoys.

Since its launch in 2004, Multiply.com has signed up some 2.2 million subscribers in the Philippines. Apart from the generous space for photos, the site also allows its users to upload videos and create blogs.

Multiply has somehow established a strong following here, so much so that local broadcasting giant ABS-CBN has even bought a 5 percent stake in the social networking site. According to reports, the purchase was worth US$5 million, with ABS-CBN looking to increase its stake to 10 percent worth US$10 million in the next two to three years.

I'm not sure if that investment was good or ill-advised, but I'm hoping that a Filipino-bred and –owned social networking site would emerge soon.

Wireless funeral homes On a separate note, I would like to inform readers of this blog that the husband of Gerilyn Baltan, communications and marketing manager of APC Philippines, has died of heart attack at a young age of 40.

His remains lie at the Arlington Funeral Homes in Araneta Ave. in the boundary of Manila and Quezon City. This is the same funeral house where the wake of my late grandmother was held two weeks ago. Unfortunately, they don't have any Wi-Fi in the building so I had to use my phone to connect to the Internet so my cousins abroad can view the wake.

Perhaps, it's time that all funeral homes make Wi-Fi connectivity a regular part of their service offerings, given the fact the almost every Filipino family has a relative working or living overseas.

Topics: Asean, Networking, Social Enterprise


Joel has been a media practitioner since 1996, starting off as a reporter and eventually becoming editor of a pioneering IT trade newspaper in Manila. He is currently one of the content producers of a Manila-based developmental website.


Melvin G. Calimag is currently the executive editor of an IT news website in the Philippines. Melvin has been covering the local IT beat for the last 13 years. He is currently a board member at the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress), and also serves as a charter member with the Philippine Science Journalists Associ... Full Bio

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