Google Philippines’ new home adopts all-Filipino theme

SPORT EYE - Eden Estopace - The Philippine Star
Google Philippines� new home adopts all-Filipino theme
Google Philippines’ new home is all about Filipino culture and creativity.

MANILA, Philippines – When Google Philippines launched its new headquarters at the Bonifacio Global City recently, it opened the place with lights made of code.

“No electricity, just apps,” says Gail Tan, corporate communications manager for Google Philippines, of the newly lighted Google signage placed on a huge Philippine map mounted on the wall. “That is our commitment to the Philippines here at Google – we are here for innovation and technology, and we are here to digitize the Philippines.”

The lights were turned on by Google Philippines country manager Ken Lingan and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez who was the guest of honor.

While the search behemoth opened its Philippine office in 2013, it is only now that its local headquarters has been completed. And it did not disappoint.

In keeping with the Google tradition of adapting to the local culture, its new office has an unmistakable Filipino theme. Even from the entrance, you wouldn’t have any doubt that you just stepped into Google’s Philippine office.

Welcoming guests at the entrance is a huge logo that may seem familiar – it’s an adaptation of a Google Independence Day logo Google used a few years back with the Philippine flag as motiff. The backdrop is made of stones that look like they were plucked from iconic Ivatan houses in Batanes. Rooms and wall accessories include capiz windows from old houses, and murals of the iconic Filipino jeepney and the Filipinized Android mascot painted on the walls.

Most chairs and sofas were designed by famous Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue. Native fans made of dried anahaw leaves in Google colors adorn part of the ceilings near the pantry.

Yes, there is a pantry. Just like in its headquarters at Mountain View, California and all its offices around the world, the Google pantry at the local office is filled with free-flowing food all day for employees. Here, the look simulates the typical Filipino salu-salo (get-together) and fiesta.

The entire office area is also bordered by a glass wall where one can see a sweeping view of the entire metropolis and even the Sierra Madre mountain on one side. The meeting rooms also have Filipino stories to tell. Themes like Vinta, Palawan and Salakot come complete with small details like colors and textures on the walls. And in keeping with another Google tradition, there is a gaming room where employees can relax, a lot of collaboration areas for people to meet and converge, comfortable lounges for resting and taking a break, and a “Nanay” room for mothers to relax. It comes with a massage chair and a mini refrigerator to store breast milk for nursing moms.

The whole scheme isn’t purely decorative, though. Simultaneous with the opening of the new headquarters is the commitment made by Google Philippines to continue working for the digitization of the country.

Lingan says that since the launch of Google Street View in the Philippines in 2015 to support local tourism, almost 200 more locations have been added to the list, bringing Google Street View locations to over 300 today. Newly added locations include Palawan, Cebu and Guimaras, to name only a few.

The search giant also launched the Launchpad Accelerator, a program that will provide equity-free support to help start-ups scale into thriving companies. Tan says selected program participants will undergo a six-week training at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley to be mentored by Google engineers and executives.


Citing the recent Google-commissioned report by Temasek, Google shares that the Philippines’ online market value is set to reach $19 billion by 2025, making e-commerce 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,” Lingan says.

Lastly, Google’s philantrophic arm, Google.org, has also announced its support to Digibayanihan, an organization that trains volunteers across the country to train people on digital literacy. “We are supporting them so they can expand their reach to about a million Filipinos in Visayas and Mindanao,” Tan explains. “We believe in e-commerce and its contribution to the economy. We believe that there is technology behind that. The developers are actually the ones who put up all these businesses online and we’d like to support them in that sense. It is also part of us bringing local relevant content to the Philippines.”

Lingan adds that the real successful transformation of the digital landscape is not just about Filipinos getting access. “It is also about Filipinos making the most use of the internet by creating things or solving problems. When this happens, that is when the real transformation will happen,” he explains.

Lopez affirms that 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,” he says.

Lopez also emphasized that SMEs still account for more than 90 percent 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,” he adds.

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