Sunday, March 30, 2014

20 Years of Philippine Internet: My Love Affair with the Internet in the Last 20 Years

I was lucky.

My alma mater, De La Salle University, was the first university to get connected to the internet (AFAIK) when I was in college. My tambayan was the publications office so I got the chance to go online and chat with other students (using our ID numbers!) and then through MIRC. It was only in grad school though in 1998 that I started to use the internet more extensively. I researched using Lycos, the Altavista then Google. My web browser? Netscape of course. For email, I used Hotmail, then Edsamail, then Yahoo and then started using Gmail when my crush sent me an invite (that's how my love affair with Gmail started). I was stuck on using Yahoo chat though until around 2008 and then just put a permanent vacation responder on my mail letting everyone know they should contact me via my Gmail account.

My very first selfwe and digital photo taken by Tobie when I was in college. He was the only person I knew who owned a digital camera back then. Good thing social media wasn't in yet!

The internet fascinated me especially when I read the book by Tim Berners-Lee. The book left a huge impression on me and pushed me to learn even more. In 1999 my Mom and I started our export business and my Dad who liked reading about technology pushed me to create our website. So I self studied Dreamweaver and uploaded our catalogue. I started to do SEO (which wasn't an official term yet back then) by submitting our site URL (which was on a free site) to directories. Pretty soon we started to get orders online. Eventually though we closed the business and I ended up working for One Hundred Services, a company that incubated internet projects, including etc.

It must've been fate that I flunked the interview with the president of a large furniture company. They surprised me so I got tongue tied and failed the interview big time. The next day was also my final interview at OHSI so I vowed to do better (I crafted a full marketing plan just for the interview). I did well and I got accepted to be the product manager of Global Trade Directory, localized version of World Access Network of Directories. I worked on building the database of exporters from scratch and created exporter advertising packages. It worked so well the directory grew faster than the main directory the company was incubating, DB and revenue wise. It was then I got reassigned to manage to handle marketing and sales. I was in my mid twenties managing >30 people (some way older than me). I had to work harder to make things work. It did and then I was moved to the mother ship, Directories Philippines Corporation.

I spent several years at DPC. I had the chance to work on the print, web and mobile version of the yellow pages. My last project was LUK4, but what I really enjoyed doing even back then was training entrepreneurs how to use the web to generate business. That was the time when I got the opportunity to travel around the Philippines to do trainings. The experience I had was what eventually landed me a job at Google.

How did I get a job at Google? I applied one morning when I was so upset at how I was being treated by my boss. I had known about the opening for about 6 months already before I applied. I never expected to be called, much less be accepted. Google opened the world to me. I don't have a degree in computer science so I had to study, study and study - my relationship with Sweetie started with him teaching me the different programming languages on chat (haha). And now almost 8 years after I'm still learning a lot and enjoying learning from colleagues who graduated from ivy schools in other countries (it gets scary at times!).

Before I gained my Google 15, 2006 in Google HQ, MTV, California.

The internet has been in my life since it started in the Philippines. It made me realize that there is so much to learn and strive for. I never expected that it would be what my career would be related to since my undergraduate degrees are so far from what I'm doing now. But hey, that's just how the internet has democratized things. Doors may close, but there are always windows that are open.

My internet family (plus my blogger friends and colleagues, not in photo). 

I'm now in a new chapter again in my life. Focusing my time more on education initiatives relating to the internet and hopefully will have time to take further studies. Maybe in the next 20 years I would've contributed to onboarding at least a percent of the next billion of internet users.

Happy #PH20net to all Filipino internet users like me!

*Written on my Nexus 7 onboard a flight from Bangkok to Singapore.