When YouTube chooses the Philippines to launch its first localized service in Asia, that is telling of what my country’s social media statistics must be like.
Media and citizens in the Philippines have taken to YouTube like fish to water. Watch segments of talk shows, entertainment, news on TV and most likely, portions of these can be found on YouTube. I’ve been to birthday parties where the celebrant is greeted via YouTube by relatives and friends from all over the world. My own son is glued to YouTube videos every day as he watches stuff from computer-related videos to videogaming videos. In Blog Watch, the citizen media group I am with, we already had a YouTube channel since late 2009 and we’ve used it extensively to document the interviews we did of the candidates running for office in the last 2010 elections.
YouTube has also brought several Pinoys to fame as their videos unexpectedly go viral. There was Christine Gambito, better known as Happy Slip, who regaled us with her funny video takes on the Pinoy characteristics and customs. This was followed by the Cebu inmates whose Michael Jackson-inspired dances went globally viral. Charise Pempengco and Arnel Pineda were discovered via YouTube. Charise is now a growing star in the music industry who counts David Foster, Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and many other celebrities as friends. Arnel is now the lead singer of the band Journey. Maria Aragon of Lady Gaga fame (who I recently met at another event) has Filipino blood running through her veins and so is funny man, Mikey Bustos. Who can forget that even the video of Cebu Pacific flight attendants dancing while in flight would become viral? And those four who were caught jumping up and down on a bed after Venus Raj became a finalist?
Pinoys have really become so attached to documenting lives and posting these on YouTube that even PR campaigns and strategies include contests that are intertwined with YouTube.
Several blogger friends and I were invited to the YouTube launch party held at Whitespace. The whole night was a celebration of YouTube’s success globally, with focus on how Filipino YouTube videos turned viral. Whitespace was transformed into a fun, fun place where different YouTube activities were happening in different corners.
With YouTube present now in the Philippines, we can expect easier access to Philippine-originating content. In fact, content from the government will be made available to the YouTube viewing public through two channels – RTVM and Official Gazette.
Jumpstarting this effort will be a Google-YouTube-World View interview on November 4, 2011 of none other than the Philippine President Aquino. World View is a show that features world leaders answering questions from YouTube users sent online. These past days, questions were being gathered from citizens, some of which will be answered personally by Pres. Aquino on the Nov. 4 show.
Exciting times are ahead for Philippine YouTube viewers.
Are you one of us? What do you think of this move to establish a firm YouTube presence in the country?