The love of texting in the Philippines

I’ve heard people say that the Philippines is the ‘texting capital of the world’.  I’m not sure of the latest stats on this, but anecdotal evidence does point very much in this direction.  There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Texts are very cheap to send – 1 Peso (about 1 pence) each; about a tenth of the cost of a voice call
  2. Filipinos are very sociable and will communicate in any way possible
  3. Texting is less invasive than calling
  4. And probably a lot more which I haven’t thought of…

When interviewing for my position at a local telecommunications company I was made aware of a slightly unusual (to me, anyway) behaviour which takes place in the Philippines.  In order to make new friends, some Filipinos will just text random numbers and see who responds.  An interesting application of texting!  That aside, I’ve been surprised at some of the other (not that I’ve had random people texting me!) transactions and interactions that I’ve had via text message during my time in the Philippines.

1) Being asked to attend a job interview
For one of the jobs I applied to I was asked to attend the interview by text.  There was no other communication, it was only by text.  Initially asking me to attend at a certain time, me replying, and then confirmation of the interview.  Granted, it was for a telecommunications company, but I was still surprised.

2) Signing up for broadband and phone
When we moved into our apartment, we wanted to sign up to get broadband internet.  Other than filling in an application form (I can’t actually remember doing this, but I’m sure I must have), the whole interaction was handled by text.  This became a bit of an issue when I wanted to end our contract and was told that we were locked in for 2 years.  I had no record of ever being told this (I still don’t think I was told this).  As an aside, when I told the broadband-service-provider that I didn’t want to pay the early cancellation fee, she asked why, and I told her (because I don’t remember ever being told that I was locked into a 2 year contract), so she told me just to write a note of why I didn’t want to pay and we’d see what happened.  I still don’t know the end result.

3) Booking accommodation
We went away to Palawan in August 2013.  As usual, we left the booking of our accommodation until the last minute.  I was doing some research via TripAdvisor and found a B&B which looked great.  I searched for the B&B online to see if they had a website, but they didn’t.  One of the reviews on TripAdvisor included a mobile number for the owner of the B&B, so I just texted the number.  I did try to call the number too, but no answer.  Miraculously our accommodation was reserved!

4) The persistence of some Filipinos
If someone texts you, they expect an immediate answer.  If you don’t answer, they will just keep texting you until you do answer.  Sometimes, they will go further and try to contact you in other ways (email, Facebook), just to make sure they get an answer.  And this will be in the space of less than an hour sometimes.

5) Not answering my calls, but answering my texts
There have been a few instances where I’ve called someone, but they won’t answer.  I then send them a text message immediately, and I often get an immediate response!

Some of these transactions have been great – it’s often easier to send a quick text than make a phone call, for example whilst at work.  It may be something I have to reverse-adjust to when I move back to Europe.  I don’t think that texting is as widely accepted for some interactions in the UK.

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