How does one describe a Filipino—the common name for an about 90-million population, a tenth of which are overseas and the remainder spread in 17 regions and 81 provinces, each one as different as the next?
With the newest Yahoo! Philippines Top Searches 2008, which revealed the most-searched items by Filipinos on the Internet, one might start with the word varied.
From celebrities—real or not—to vacation spots and even job opportunities, Filipinos clearly mine the Internet for a wide range of topics.
Overall, at least 20 million registered Internet users in the Philippines unknowingly decided to put US reality TV show American Idol, island getaway Boracay, child singer Charice Pempengco, social media site Friendster, hit movie High School Musical 3, jobs (as in work), SM Mall of Asia, actress Marian Rivera, the capsized MV Princess of the Stars and the Beijing Olympics among the top 10 most-searched items.
Dividing the search terms by category still offered no respite as Filipinos seemed more eclectic by this metric. While entertainment-related items dominated most of the nine categories, which ranged from technology to travel, Filipinos have also shown particular interest to world events like the US presidential elections and job opportunities outside the country.
For news, Filipinos tapped their keyboards for US President-elect Barack Obama, blogger Brian Gorrell, recently kidnapped journalist Ces Drilon, the China milk scandal and ZTE scandal, as well as the seven wonders of nature, among others.
Celebrity hawks favored local actress Angel Locsin, superstar Angelina Jolie, TV show Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, Brunei-born actor Wu Chun and singer Vanessa Hudgens, among others.
Foreign TV shows slightly beat local ones as the most searched for by Filipinos. Amazing Race Asia, American Idol, Gossip Girl, Hannah Montana, Prison Break and Heroes were pitted against local counterparts Dyesebel, Pinoy Big Brother, Pinoy Dream Academy and Marimar.
Singers Arnel Pineda, David Cook, the Jonas Brothers, Rihanna, Sarah Geronimo and Avril Lavigne were among those who dominated in the music category.
Tech-savvy surfers favored the Asus eee PC computer, Apple’s iPhone, online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Pag-asa weather forecast, board-exam results and the ubiquitous YouTube, among others.
Under recreation, people turned to boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, basketball star Chris Tiu, video-game Grand Theft Auto, the Olympics 2008, tennis star Maria Sharapova and, curiously, the Rubik’s Cube, among others.
Recession or not, travel fiends hit the information highway to search for mountain city Baguio, beach-ridden Bohol, Palawan, Siargao and Puerto Galera, as well as the Queen City of the South Cebu, to name a few.
For the “my flavor” category, Filipinos raised TV show Deal or No Deal, YouTube stars Moymoy Palaboy, reality TV shows Pinoy Fear Factor and Survivor Philippines, among others, to the very top.
Meanwhile, Filipino surfers gave new meaning to the category Sari-sari (miscellaneous) when they searched for currency converters, diet recipes, gaming blog “RAN online,” cartoon show Naruto, Philippine newspapers, online games, Philippine holidays, Hollywood movie Transformers and, quite ominously, “work abroad.”
Tough times may be ahead but using the Internet is a relatively low-cost endeavor. Filipinos may be a diverse bunch but if they share something in common, it’s that irresistible notion of getting something at a bargain, a feature the Internet offers in spades.