The Philippines officially connected to the world of the Internet on March 1994 through the efforts of PHNET or Philippine Network Foundation, a consortium of various academic institutions, private companies, and government agencies. A few commercial companies also belonged in the consortium. On August 1994, the first commercial Internet service provider was launched by Mosaic Communications or MosCom, making it possible for Filipinos to go online.
However, there were earlier efforts to have the Philippines interconnected virtually since the late 1980s. For instance, the first Philippine-based precursor of the local online forum called the bulletin board system (BBS) was established in 1986. In 1987, several locally-operated BBS groups in Metro Manila created a network to connect with each other called the Philippine FidoNet Exchange. It was in 1990 when a proposal to have a similar network to connect various academic institutions in the country was proposed, but nothing came out of it. In the early 1990s, email communications was also introduced in several sectors, primarily within multinational companies operating in the country like IBM, Motorola, and Texas Instruments. The FidoNet people also began email exchanges. Because of such efforts, as well as having the desire to further the country’s information and communication access online, the Philnet project was commenced in 1993, which eventually became PHNET.
Most of the country’s Internet access before was enjoyed through the existence of Internet cafés. These are coffee shops who offered the usual fare except that they had an array of desktop computers set up to connect to the Internet. In provincial areas where the reach of the Internet is still quite impossible due to certain infrastructure or geographical reason, Internet cafes still thrive up to this day. This is also where people who don’t have their own personal computer or Internet connection at home come to access their emails, access their social media accounts, and also play online games. The Internet’s popularity, especially in accessing it this way, was catapulted by the need for Filipinos to contact their loved ones abroad. Many OFWs working in various parts of the globe have benefited from the Internet phenomena by making information and communication exchanges to their loved ones quite fast and now more affordable. Accessing the Internet via cellphones or smartphones was also an important factor in making the Filipino Internet-friendly and mobile at the same time.
Indeed, the Philippines has enjoyed the various benefits of being connected to the world’s global village in merely 20 years of the Internet’s existence in the country. Filipinos have also been highlighted in the online world, especially with our heavy usage of social media. In fact, the Philippines was named as the “social media capital of the world” in 2011 as 93.9% of the population area are heavy Facebook users. In a global survey, the Philippines is also in the top 10 countries that use Twitter the most.