Last September, just after typhoon Ketsana (locally known as "Ondoy") razed the Philippines, veteran IT chronicler Jim Ayson wrote in his blog that Facebook has become the most popular site in the Philippines.
Although Ayson commented in his blog that the surge of online activities after the storm triggered the "tipping point for local social media", the phenomenon was already building up and that it was only a matter of time before Facebook formally took the crown as the country's top online destination.
While it's interesting to see Facebook emerge as king of the hill, it's equally intriguing to find out the top local site is neither a social networking site or news site but an ordinary Web site site dedicated to free ads. A check at Alexa.com would reveal that Sulit.com.ph, at number 12, is the highest-ranked locally developed Web site in the Philippines. Sulit, by the way, is a Filipino term that means value-for-money or cost-efficient. Next to Sulit.com.ph is Inquirer.net, the online version of the daily broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, which is surprisingly far at number 27.
The strong showing of Sulit.com.ph did not escape the eyes of investors prying for opportunities in the online space. Blogger Abe Olandres (yugatech.com) was the first to break in July the news that the classified ads site had already been bought for an unspecified amount.
The deal, presumably in multi-million figures, was "confirmed" by one of the site's founders named RJ, through a forum message. A link and copy of the confirmation is also posted in the Yugatech.com story.
While a lot of sites also offer free ads to online consumers, it's amazing that Sulit.com.ph has managed to snag an "estimated 46.3 million pageviews and 7.3 million visitors a month and over 12 million indexed pages in Google with about 350,000 registered members", according to Yugatech.
The huge payday for the creators of Sulit.com.ph only means that ordinary individuals can still make money from the Internet as long as you have the creativity and right business model.
Rigodon Update The local subsidiary of phonemaker Nokia has installed a new country manager--a French guy named Benoit Nalin. His appointment became effective last August but he has not been formally introduced to the media yet, according to Nokia Philippines communications manager, Nikka Singson-Abes.
Over at Microsoft Philippines, a lot of movements are also going on. Femee Cruz, one of the most charming young executives around, has gone full circle with her return to the software subsidiary as head of the Microsoft Office line. After her departure from Microsoft a few years back, Cruz has had stints in NEC and IBM. She'll be replacing Nicky Eala, who will be leaving for the U.S. with his wife and co-employee Abby to take up a new role at Microsoft's Redmond office.