It was such an awesome experience as the media was welcomed to the new Google Philippines office on Thursday, January 26. The invite has that top secret feel to it. There’s very little information and things seemed hush hush. The email also included an instruction and we’re asked to provide certain information. Supposedly, we can choose our preferred schedule. One in the morning, and the other at night. I opted for the early schedule but was bumped to the evening because the slot is already full as I was told. I willingly agreed, after all, this is a Google event.
In all honesty, I was actually expecting the event to be YouTube related. When I attended the Christmas party last year, we were told to stay tuned for something exciting from the video-sharing platform. So I thought that was it. Well, I was totally wrong. But when those who attended the day time event started sharing about it on social media, I became more interested.
We had a short tour of the new Google Philippines office. I learned that the company opened its first office in Makati back in 2013. Their new home at the Bonifacio Global City is bigger, and greatly represent the Philippines. The reception, pantry area and recreation room alone shows a lot of Filipino character.
Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to take pictures inside the work area. Only the reception and pantry area can be shared to the public. But I can say that it features an open space, perfect for collaboration. And there are comfortable seats and desks by the glass window where one can work while enjoying the beautiful view of the city. Their meeting rooms were designed with the Philippines in mind. Think of the Subterranean Underground River in Palawan; or Whang-Od, the oldest tattoo artist in the country.
Aside from the unveiling of the new Google Philippines office, the company also announced the grant for digital literacy program for one million Filipinos in Visayas and Mindanao. Google Philippines is supporting the growth of the country’s digital economy with a Google.org grant to DigiBayanihan, a nationwide digital literacy program that promotes digital inclusion among Filipinos.
Google.org is the philanthropic arm of Google. The organization supports and champions people and projects that are fighting some of the biggest human challenges of the 21st century. “This step is part of our continuing effort to create a stronger, more inclusive digital economy in the Philippines. While Internet penetration has improved over the last five years, 2 out of 5 Filipinos are still missing out on the huge opportunities that come with being online. We want to empower them with digital know-how so that they can make the most of the Internet,” said Ken Lingan, Google Philippines country manager.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, who was guest of honor at the launch, said, “With the population getting more connected and engaged every day, it is necessary for individuals, businesses, and communities to have the right skills to thrive in today’s modern economy. That’s why we welcome Google’s commitment to promote digital inclusion and empower every Filipino online, and in effect, drive the country’s economy forward.”
Launchpad Accelerator Program
Also unveiled at the event was the Launchpad Accelerator program in the Philippines, highlighting the importance of developers in the digital economy of the country. The program provides equity-free support to help start-ups grow into thriving companies.
In a recent Google-commissioned report by Temasek, Google said that the country’s online market value is set to reach US$19 billion by 2025. This means that e-commerce will be a major economic driver in the next 10 years. “Our local developers and startups are instrumental in creating impactful businesses that are tackling tough local and global issues. We see the importance of their role in what will be a booming e-commerce in our country in the very near future because what they do has direct impact in people’s lives,” Ken said.
Zipmatch, an innovative real-estate start-up, which uses 360° technology to differentiate its online portal, is the first Filipino participant in Google’s Launchpad Accelerator. Secretary Lopez recognized the program as a potential boost in the e-commerce industry, and encouraged micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to take advantage of the digital space and digital training provided by Google and DTI agencies nationwide.
“SMEs still account for more than 90% of our enterprises, and Filipinos rely heavily on them for goods and services. I think it is just right for the SMEs to embrace digital integration now and make use of programs like what we provide working with tech companies like Google so they can take advantage of opportunities that go with going digital,” Sec Lopez added.
New Philippine Sites on Google Street View
Also announced at the Google Philippines office revelation was the release of 188 new local sites on Street View. The new sites include key attractions and landmarks from Batanes to Palawan to Guimaras. This means more than 300 sites all over the country are now available on Street View. Since the launch of the first collection in 2015, I have been enjoying this technology. I have been using it as reference when going to unfamiliar places, especially when using public transportation.
The technology company also partnered with the Intramuros Administration to bring its historic collection of religious sculptures online on the Google Arts & Culture platform. Online visitors will be able to enjoy the 360° virtual reality tours with audio guide of 17 locations within the Walled City. And to make it even more awesome, the platform can be viewed using VR viewer like the Google Cardboard.
It’s great to learn that aside from having a really cool Google Philippines office, the tech giant is also very much involved in the Philippines. The several projects announced is testament to the company’s commitment to the country. I wish for the success of the company and it’s projects, not only here in the Philippines, but in all parts of the world.