When Emilio Aguinaldo first waved the Philippine Flag and declared the country’s independence on June 12, 1898, he did so against overwhelming odds. One hundred and twenty-two years later, Filipinos are again waving a flag of freedom, this time, using the power of digital.
Digital raises the Flag of Freedom in 2020
COVID-19 has been a tough lesson to everyone but in that same light, it showed the enabling capabilities of digital and how it serves as a great equalizer. Despite restrictions, it has allowed life to persist and for some, even flourish.
In its Independence Day report, digital advertising firm AdSpark looked into four key areas as examples of how Filipinos harnessed digital as their primary weapon to circumvent all sorts of hindrances during the current pandemic. These are areas where digital serves as a key enabler of normalcy – getting essential goods and services, learning online, discovering talent in cooking, and working productively.
Digital became an important key to getting essentials such as food and medicine due to the underlying fear of going out, long lines in supermarkets and pharmacies, and depleted stocks of food and household items. Thus, during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), delivery was the second most searched topic online after recipes under the Food category. Online conversations regarding telehealth and online medical consultations also reached its peak during the start of the ECQ and have been steadily talked about since then. Filipinos are now learning to shift from a very traditional face-to-face practice to using digital channels.
Filipinos also learned to cope with learning online. Despite the infrastructure and financial challenges of learning online, the Department of Education came up with DepEd Commons, a website where teachers can access e-learning training materials. It became the second most searched query in April and May under the Learning category, following Optometry Law.
Those who had to stay home also decided to spend their time wisely by hopping on the internet and taking online courses to upskill for their career and their hobbies. Paula Dahlia Mendoza, for instance, went viral for completing over 20 different online courses in a span of a month from 14 different universities including some Ivy League schools. Others wanted to learn more about their hobbies. Guitar lessons were so popular that during the ECQ, two of the top five Youtube searches in the education category were about guitar lessons.
Many Filipinos also wanted to learn more about home cooking and more healthy food. Search topics during the ECQ months were dominated by desserts and simple recipes for sweet food and beverages such as banana cake, banana bread, Dalgona coffee, and cookies, among others. At the beginning of the ECQ, most online conversations were about food delivery and online groceries. As time went on, talk shifted to cooking at home and kitchen hacks.
The economy had to continue to move, and people needed to earn. Some businesses and entrepreneurs suddenly found themselves being forced to do a digital pivot. Pam Cinco, the owner of Risa’s Chocolates, talked about how digital has become an enabler for her business and is now an integral part of it.
“Business is coping as well as it could possibly be given the limitations. In terms of production, given the number of employees and limited supply, we are running at almost the regular rate given the limitations. Because of ECQ, I was forced to use online delivery and I think it’s the future for my business,” she said.
Despite all these challenges, Pinoy ingenuity still showed, and this time, they are armed with technology.
“Using our brand planning proprietary tools, we continuously study how digital enables Filipinos to carry on and seek normalcy. This helps leaders of various enterprises create more value and relevance to their consumers during these remarkable times” said Onat Roldan, AdSpark President, and CEO.
AdSpark generated the report by using its own AdSpark intelligence platform. AdSpark Intelligence uses social listening that tracks mentions, comments, and sentiments across the internet; and content consumption which measures what Filipinos are reading and viewing online.