Already SMS-Crazy, Filipinos Are Now Mad for Facebook

The Social Network Is Catching Up With Texting as the Communications Mode of Choice

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Had an avid follower of Arnel Pineda not posted his video on YouTube, Neal Schon, guitar god of rock group Journey, would still be searching for Steve Perry's replacement. Had Vera Morelos not spent some 30 minutes on Friendster, she would still be among thousands of faceless, nameless people slugging it out in Ayala's (Manila's Wall Street) corporate jungle. Vera met her handsome British prince -- a graphic artist and an heir. Soon enough, he traveled half the globe, offered to marry her in Manila and brought her to U.K.

In Manila, the name of the social-networking game is not just texting. Just like in any other part of the world, millions of Filipinos are face to face with computers every day, trying to connect and reconnect with loved ones and total strangers.

No wonder advertisers are intruding or paying their way in just to get into the action.

As of the latest count by Google, half a billion people are networking online at any given time. Over 220 million people alone are hooked on Facebook, one of two most popular sites, if not the most preferred by A, B and upper-C socio-economic classes, spanning across age groups.

"A quarter of this could be Filipinos," says a 24-Hour net café owner who is enjoying brisk business right smack in a high-traffic tourist area.

According to New Media Update's latest podcasting news, Facebook is about to overtake Blogger (222 million registered members). "Facebook is the great equalizer," says Alan Vinluan, a Filipino Alan Pineda lookalike and a Facebook addict.

On Facebook, you may find a broad spectrum of Philippine society -- the uppercrust, incognito or otherwise celebrities, diplomats, public officials, even presidents. Imelda Marcos, Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sens. Loren Legarda, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Dick Gordon and Mar Roxas are among those on Facebook, including Adel Tamano, a Harvard alumni himself, whose popularity among young Filipinos quite is quite high.

Now a virtual place also for who's who in Philippine advertising, marketing, media, and many other fields, Facebook is almost becoming a generic word for social networking, teeming with the famous, about-to-be-famous and non-famous.

As the world's biggest users of Friendster, SMS, and have multiple social-networking accounts, Filipinos, will undoubtedly, become the world's largest users of the ever popular Facebook, too.

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