Changing interests
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2020 - 12:00am

The more than three weeks of being required to stay at home due to the government’s enhanced community quarantine measure has forced many of us to do things that we do not normally do.

An acquaintance of mine, who usually spends her time either playing golf or attending to her patients, is now keeping herself busy learning how to cook via online tutorials and is actually whipping up dishes for her family, a task she used to leave to her kasambahay.

A number of people, including this writer, have also found themselves hooked on one Korean series to another courtesy of Netflix, something they didn’t have the time to do prior to the quarantine. Even husbands have joined their wives to watch the highly popular Korean telenovela Crash Landing on You.

Picodi.com recently investigated Google search queries and ranked the activities which have gained the biggest popularity during the lockdown period.

The group’s analysis team took a look at the most popular hobbies and activities of Filipinos, such as cinema, books, games, among others and checked the frequency of search queries connected to these activities in March 2020 and compared them with the same period last year.

It found out that Google searches for all activities that require leaving home have become less popular. For instance, cinema dropped by 87 percent, concerts by 40 percent, theater by 28 percent. Filipinos, it said, have also lost interest in foreign languages which declined 22 percent probably due to the world of closed borders.

Other activities whose searches on Google went down include renovation (31 percent), photography (13 percent), and home cleaning (nine percent).

Meanwhile, the report showed that the biggest increase of interest was noted in card games which rose 100 percent, PC games by 92 percent, and online courses such as Udemy by 80 percent. According to Picodi, there is a possibility that the uncertain situation in the labor market has made internet users seek opportunities to gain additional qualifications.

Picodi also revealed that workout placed fourth with a 72 percent, increase which means that people probably look for alternatives to gyms and fitness clubs. Searches for various creative activities and crafts like crocheting also went up by 37 percent and drawing by 28 percent. Those which increased slightly are yoga and puzzles, both by six percent.

Other activities whose searches increased are chess (68 percent), meditation (52 percent), movies and TV series (49 percent), board games (49 percent), painting (28 percent), calligraphy (27 percent), podcast (25 percent), reading (24 percent), video game (23 percent), gardening (16 percent), and crossword (14 percent).

The research is based on the changes in the popularity of various keywords in March 2020 compared with March of 2019, according to Google archival data through Google Trends.

Picodi.com is an online tool that helps people buy stuff cheaper in 44 countries around the world. It puts together coupons, promo codes, deals and discount offers for all shops and brands in the Philippines. Among the stores and brands on Picodi are Zalora, Lazada, Klook, Trip.com, Shopee, GrabFood, Metrodeal, Booking.com, AliExpress, Adidas, Emirates, Expedia, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, among others.

I would have wanted to find out though how searches for stores that deliver food and other essential items have increased so far. Via Facebook’s Marketplace, I have discovered for instance that there are people who will actually do the supermarket or even wet market buying for you for a fee so you don’t actually have to risk catching the virus or line up for hours. I now actually have my vegetables, fruits and seafood delivered from Farmers Market in Cubao. And while bleach for disinfecting grocery items and your house in general has become unavailable in the supermarkets, there are those who will actually deliver to you. In fact, I just ordered four gallons of bleach which was delivered to me.

I also expect searches for online shops for non-essentials like clothes and actual online purchases to have gone down during the lockdown period not only because there is a warning that deliveries will be delayed but also because of employment and other financial uncertainties.

We still do not know what will happen after April 14 – whether this stay-at-home and skeleton workforce policy will continue or whether a modified one will be implemented. In the meantime, let us make the most of the time at home to learn new things, to make new plans, to start saving money for days like these, to get rid figuratively and literally of those that are not important, of those that you can live without.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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