Before you read my post (below) about Mozilla’s recent activities in the Philippines, please note that the September 26-27 Tropical Storm Ketsana has caused over 100 deaths and over 340,000 affected by the flooding – the worst flooding in Manila in living memory. Aggregated information about the floods and how to donate to those who were affected can be found at Ondoy Relief, Typhoon Ondoy, Pinoy Tumblr, Ondoy Tumblr and the Philippine National Red Cross.
Over the weekend of Sept. 18-20, Seth Bindernagel and I traveled to Manila to begin to understand the Philippines as a growing community of Mozilla users. We met various people in order to begin to understand the Philippines as an Internet market including domain registrars, network operators, social network service operators, web developers, a group of Spread Firefox Campus Representatives from a few of the schools local to Manila, and the attendees of the 2009 WordCamp Philippines event.
Dinner with the Mozilla Spread Firefox Campus Reps:
Seth has covered a lot of the information we learned from our trip but I wanted to share a few other pieces of information as well as some photos of the places and the people we met.
Chin Wong, who writes the Digital Life column in the Manila Standard met with us and provided a good overview in his article of what we are trying to understand with regards to web usage in the Philippines.
Digital Life by Chin Wong — Filipino Firefox
DO we need a Filipino-language version of Firefox? Mozilla, maker of the world’s most downloaded browser, wants to know.
Chin provided a thoughtful response in the column wherein the first response was that most Filipinos use the Internet in English, all software in English, so a localized (Filipino) version of Firefox is not necessary. But he went on to note that:
On the other hand, I realize there might be a lot of interest in a localized browser, and that there are many more end-users out there [in the Philippines] for whom English is not their first language. After all, the most widely viewed TV shows are all in Filipino, and the most widely read newspapers aren’t the English-language broadsheets but Filipino tabloids. Certainly, folks who fit this media profile would benefit from a Filipino browser.
The majority of people we met with in the few days we were in Manila were more than happy with the English Firefox, which makes sense. These are Internet professionals, web developers, bloggers, people who’s entire academic education was in English. For people like this, an English language Firefox is most natural. But considering the nature of the Philippines, where there are multiple languages in use across the over 7000 islands, where a majority of the population has yet to get online in the first place, and considering how common it is for people to use Filipino (or Taglish) in daily conversation, Seth and I came away convinced that there is a need for a more localized version of Firefox. Exactly what that will look like should be up to the Filipinos who will make that happen, but we’re looking forward to what that may be.
In the coming days, we will be launching a Filipino community mailing list and hopefully from there a website with perhaps a forum so that Filipino users and developers can start collaborating and sharing and planning what to do with Mozilla or Firefox in the Philippines. If you’d like more information on this new Mozilla community in the Philippines, please leave a comment and I’ll email you the details once they are running.
I am also hoping to be back in Manila for the Philippine Blog Awards, which Mozilla is co-sponsoring this year. I look forward to meeting bloggers and Firefox users at the Blog Awards event in Manila.
Here are some photos from Seth & my trip to Manila:
Makati at dusk
The infamous traffic of Manila (on a Friday night in rush hour no less)
Beau Lebens, Automattic
Seth Bindernagel, Mozilla
2009 WordCamp Philippines speakers on stage
Please Don’t Hurt the Web, Use Open Standards
Seth & Beau providing entertainment as they eat Balut. (I didn’t partake.)
Even many of the Filipinos at dinner that night don’t eat balut…