TikTok, vitamins, workout: Search topics that have spiked during the PH lockdown

Gill Altuna
TikTok, vitamins, workout: Search topics that have spiked during the PH lockdown
The things that got Filipinos furiously typing on Google Search

 MANILA, Philippines – We live in an unprecedented time in history where a virus, and the subsequent lockdowns it caused, changed our nation’s  – and of course, the world’s – definition of normal.

Since the start of the lockdown, we’ve had to adjust our day-to-day lives from grocery shopping, working, staying healthy to keeping up-to-date with the news. More than ever, we cling to online platforms to obtain timely information, and to find creative means to somehow get a sense of normalcy. 

As we move online though, we also leave digital footprints that show where we’ve been and where we’ve been congregated. We can see these footprints via Google Trends. 

For instance, since the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the novel coronavirus disease its official name, COVID-19, on February 11, netizens started to pick up the term. But the surge in “COVID” searches happened on March 12 when President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation on Philippine television announcing that Metro Manila would be placed on lockdown.

Coinciding with this, netizens also turned to Search for more details on Duterte’s announcement, the lockdown itself, and its implications on daily life. 

Koko Pimentel broke the internet when the Medical City on March 25 got netizens foaming with its report on how Pimentel put many lives at risk. Weeks ago, on March 12, Tom Hanks and his wife tested positive for COVID-19, being among the first widely-known celebrities to contract it – a vicious reminder that this virus spares no one. For some people, the disease got real when these bigger-than-life figures started contracting the disease.  

We saw spikes for Vico Sotto too. First, it was for demonstrating solid examples of leadership and clear thinking in Pasig City days after the start of the lockdown, and a second time when #ProtectVico trended, a response to the NBI summoning him for his then-alleged violation of national government directives. Chel Diokno also made a mark when Duterte lashed out, and poked fun at his appearance. 

Following the announcement of the first recorded coronavirus case in the Philippines on January 30, search saw a surge for “vitamins,” disinfectant,” and “ethyl alcohol” – tools that Filipinos believe could help them in the virus war. The keyword “PPE” or personal protective equipment peaked in the last week of March, with netizens expressing empathy for medical frontliners that clamor for more protective gear. 

Netizens have also flocked government websites for updates and information. The huge search volume for “DOH” (Department of Health) followed Duterte’s national address. The spike in “DOLE” (Department of Labor and Employment) searches happened on March 31 when the agency announced the availability of financial aid through their COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).


Netizens also reacted on April 3 when the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) made pronouncements of its emergency subsidies to 4Ps beneficiaries. 

With millions of Filipinos stuck at home, many have also looked for “online delivery” to stock up on groceries and other essential goods. Other delivery services such as “Lalamove,” “Grab Delivery” and “LazMart” saw increased search interest too. 

It comes as no surprise for Filipinos to find creative ways and means to be entertained while staying locked indoors. The winner? TikTok. It’s become a replacement of sorts for traditional TV viewing for many. Filipinos searched for and turned to Zoom to digitally bridge the distance – before we all found out about its security holes, lessening its popularity. 

Filipinos found a new “hobby” too, making “dalgona coffee,” keeping some Filipinos busy whipping up coffee into milk glasses. 

On the side of wellness, Filipinos have also made searches for “workout,” with search volume results rising above normal. Without access to gyms or the ability to do sports with friends, many are looking for ways to stay fit with DIY exercises. 

These are just some of the big search trends we’ve seen since the start of the lockdown, and it’s the story of Filipinos during the crisis as seen through the lens of Google Search. – Rappler.com

Gill Altuna is a channel manager in a multinational fast-moving consumer goods company with a Master of Science in Industrial Economics. 

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