That is – “If you can’t read this, read this article.”
What the heck is that? Well, it’s the kind of “code” that you will find if you are texting, or using SMS (Short Message Service) on your cellphone. Texting is huge in the Philippines. Even the people in lower economic classes have cellular phones in many cases. For a lot of people, their cellular phone is the most valuable item that they own!
When I first started coming to the Philippines in 1990, there were no cellular phones here. I came back many times during the early and mid ’90s, and still no cellular phones. When I came here in 1999, the cellular phone was ubiquitous. A lot of people had them.
When Feyma, the kids and I arrived in Manila, we were sitting in the domestic airport waiting for our flight to GenSan. There was a Muslim lady sitting near to us, she was wearing all black dress, with her entire head covered, only her eyes were showing. She was holding a cellular phone, though, and doing something with it. Feyma and I wondered what she was doing. The best we could figure was that maybe she was playing a game on her phone, the way she kept pecking away at the keys. Little did we know, she was texting somebody! The more we stayed here during our 1999 vacation in the Philippines, the more texting we saw. We could not imagine that we would ever be interested in texting. Why not just call? That’s’ how we did it back in the States after all.
Over the past couple of weeks, an Australian friend has been visiting. I’ve known Leon for years, but only through the internet. When he first came to town, if he needed to contact me he would always call me on my cellphone. It was kind of unusual, because most people don’t call me, they text. But, I remembered that back in Australia, like the rest of the Western World, most people called. After only a few days, Leon never called anymore, he always texted! We got talking about it one day, and Leon told me that he switched to texting because he found out about the price. He told me that back in Australia, each text was a certain amount. I have forgotten how much, but it was expensive, maybe like 50 cents per text message. Here in the Philippines, it costs P1 to text somebody. To call costs much more, the cheapest being about P7 per minute. If you are calling a different cellular network or a landline, the price is much more than P7. So, you can send 7 text messages for the price that it costs to talk for 1 minute or less. No wonder people here text! I have been told by people from other countries about the price of texting too. One German friend told me it was US$2.50 per text in Germany! Wow.
My biggest problem with texting is the way everything is abbreviated, and words are interchanged by something else that sounds like it, etc. Like the subject line of this post! I feel that it bastardizes the written language (whether it’s English, Tagalog or whatever). I enforce a rule with my kids that if they text, they must spell out the words. It has actually been studied and proven that texting is responsible for poor writing skills among kids! Texting language is similar to the language kids use when Instant Messaging on the Internet as well.
For me, I use something called “T9”. T9 is “predictive texting” where you type on the keys once per letter, instead of pecking out each character for the exact letter. When the word is completed, the T9 dictionary then guesses which word you are intending to use. If it guesses the wrong one, you punch a button to scroll through the words that match that series of letters that you punched in. T9 is complicated to learn at first, until somebody walks you through it. Once they show you, though, it is quite simple! It is also faster to use T9 if you know how to do it!
Did you know that the Philippines is the world’s leading consumer of Text messaging? It’s true. Here’s another fact that you may not know… the Philippines is the only country in the world where a President has been overthrown by Text Messaging! It’s true. In 2001, President Joseph Estrada was being tried for Impeachment, and the people of the Philippines were not satisfied with the way that the trial was being conducted. A rally of text messages helped gather a crowd at EDSA in Manila for the EDSA II Rally (the original EDSA was when President Ferdinand Marcos was thrown out from power in the ’80s). The rally concluded in the ousting of President Estrada, and the instatement of current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on January 21, 2001. Text messaging is widely acknowledged as the catalyst that made it happen.
Tnks 4 rdng dis. Tk cre.