Something happened recently. I don’t know, maybe it was 4 to 6 months ago, I don’t recall for certain. What I do know is that I was not happy, though.
One day, I did a Google search, and all of the search results were in Tagalog! What? I can’t speak Tagalog, and now everything I could get from Google was in Tagalog! Yikes!
In the past, this would happen from time to time, but on the bottom of the Google Philippines page there was a link that said “Go to Google.com in English.” If you clicked on that, it would set a cookie on your computer so that you would, from that point on, always use Google.com and it would be in English. If you switched to a new computer, you would have to re-click on that link to reset the cookie on the new computer, and you’d be back to using Google in a language you could actually understand! But, when I suddenly started getting Tagalog results from Google earlier this year, I looked and there was no such link any longer at the bottom of the Google page. I went through all of my various browser and Google Account settings. My language was set on my Google Account to English. Everything was set in a way that I should be getting English results on Google searches, but I was not. I could not read what Google was telling me! Very frustrating.
Another thing about this is that I knew it was not just me, because other expats living here in the Philippines had contacted me and told me the same story – they were also getting Google in Tagalog!
At first, I switched to Bing for my Internet Searches. I figured it would just be temporary and that Google would certainly fix the problem, but they did not. I got frustrated with Bing and found their search results to be not as good as Google, so I switched back to Google and just lived with the frustration. I also shot off an e-mail to Google’s Philippine Representative, who is a friend of mine, but to my continued frustration she never replied to my request for help. Perhaps it was beyond her ability to assist and that is why she ignored my plea.
So, for the past months, I have been suffering through getting Tagalog results when I use Google. If you are like me, you know that you use Google hundreds of times per day.
Earlier this week, I found the answer, though. Funny thing is, in a way Google is the one who gave me the answer! You see, I was browsing the web earlier this week, and I saw a Google ad for a company who was offering free VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for people living overseas. With this type of service, you could log on to the PC in the USA and surf, all of the Internet sites that you would go to would see a US IP address and think you were in the USA. With such a service you could do things like watch movies on Hulu and use other sites that were allowed for US use only. I decided to give it a try, since it was free anyway. I downloaded the software, installed it, and tried it out. All of the content that I had been blocked from was now working! Wow, very nice.
After a few minutes of using this, I needed to search for something on Google, and I went and did so. Before my search results came up, Google popped up a little box that said:
It looks like you have moved from the Philippines to the United States, do you want to use Google.com instead of Google.ph?
Wow! I quickly clicked “Yes” and Google came up in English! A big smile came to my face. I then turned off the VPN software, which gave me a Philippine IP address again, and I did another Google search. Now it popped up another message:
It looks like you have moved from the United States to the Philippines, do you want to use Google.ph instead of Google.com?
I clicked NO this time, and my search results remained in English.
Basically, for me, I found that the software was pretty neat, but I didn’t need it. So, I uninstalled it (and my Google is still in English, since I told Google that I “moved”). However, if you choose to keep the software it can serve other purposes for you, things like:
- watch YouTube Videos that are restricted from the Philippines
- watch content on sites like Hulu
- log in to your Bank’s website and they will still think you are in the USA
- anything where you need to have a US IP address
If you are interested in the software, it is called Hotspot Shield. They have a free version (ad supported) and a paid version with no ads. My primary purpose on this article is to help expats here and in other countries find out how to get their Google Searches back in English again.