Geni Pilipinas

Started by Private User on Thursday, June 2, 2011
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Private User
6/2/2011 at 3:40 PM

Moving a message trail to a public discussion. Here's the summary from Erica Isabel Howton:

We've been talking about the "portal" projects for regional / international geni users.
Here's what we got so far:

- Mona Liza San Diego Magno, "the mistress of organization" has a beautiful array of Filipino genealogy projects going. What can / should we do to take them to the next level?

- Shmuel "Don Quixote" Kam is reporting on results of the recent Israeli outreach effort; part of how I saw this discussion was to think about "rolling out" a program, such as the mailing y'all did for Israel, to other regions. Any thoughts? Doable for P.I.?

- We all want to emulate / learn from the Estonian experience and frankly (at least I am) quite envious of the Estonia / Geni success story. Liivi and Lauri, is there any history you can tell us about?

Take aways so far:

-- Not necessary to translate the current Philippines projects into other P.I. languages as English is one of the two official languages

-- Do we "repurpose" the main genealogy current project, Or do we create a "gateway to the P.I." project that includes more technical assistance with the application?

-- Is it possible for Geni to somehow create a "welcome to Geni, New User from the Philippines, please go introduce yourself here" link? Can / should this be done for other countries and regions?

..... I am really getting into this idea! George, Grant -- your feedback please.

Everyone, feel free to add more people to this discussion. I have already learned quite a lot.

Private User
6/2/2011 at 3:48 PM

Recipients of earlier trail: Erica Howton, Private User, Private User, Private User, Liivi Murumets, Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn / שמואל-אהרן קם (קאן, Private User, Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C), Private User, Malka Mysels, Lauri Kreen, Private User

Did I miss anyone?

Private User
6/2/2011 at 3:58 PM

Several significant historical events are coming up.

June 12 marks 113 years of independence from Spain.

June 19 is marks 150 years since the birth of our national hero, Jose Rizal. A member of the National Commemoration Committee is a Geni member and one I collaborate on in one of the surname projects.

July 4, marks what is called Philippine-American Friendship Day. With Filipinos forming one of the largest migrant group to the United States, it would be a good opportunity to provide them some benefits to joining the Filipino family forest on Geni.

Reaching out to a sub-set of Geni users who to whom the above would be relevant sounds like an exciting opportunity!

6/2/2011 at 3:59 PM

Some people say many Estonians joined Geni after an article in a national daily newspaper. There's no "portal" as such - Geni became popular in Estonia before projects were introduced. For about a year now we've had a group in FB with over 4400 members at the moment.
There are a few active discussions and our own Collaboration Pool. With only a little over a million people in Estonia it's not that difficult to map almost everyone - having church records freely available online does help though (-;

There's actually quite a big Filipino community in Ireland and they even held a Mrs Philippines Ireland pageant of recent - search for it in youtube!

Next weekend is the 8th Filipino day in Ireland / 113th Independence day of Philippines / 150th Birthday of Dr Jose Rizal (his MP Dr. Jose Rizal), over 500 people have said they are attending

6/2/2011 at 4:09 PM

Liivi Murumets

- So can you msg the FB group about this of this Project for 8th Filipino Day in Ireland? Sounds like a "marketing opp" to me! Also, just out of curiosity: the Filipino / Irish marriage event - red heads or not? (We really need to get that "Red Head" project going ....)

- Private User & Grant - any possibility of Geni Swag? Geni contests? Filipino / Irish -- I mean, that's all kinds of awesome ... and genealogically interesting.

- Mona wrote:

July 4, marks what is called Philippine-American Friendship Day. With Filipinos forming one of the largest migrant group to the United States, it would be a good opportunity to provide them some benefits to joining the Filipino family forest on Geni.


YES what a great twist on 4th of July. I love it.

As you probably know, there's a substantial Filipino and Filipino - American community where I live, NYC area. MEZ (Maria Edmonds-Zediker) mentioned a number in her area in Northern California.

Here's a Wiki article on "Overseas Filipino"

Private User
6/2/2011 at 4:10 PM

Beauty pageant -- haha. That sounds about right! :D

Filipino communities outside the Philippines are indeed very strong -- US, Europe, Middle East, Japan, HongKong, Singapore ... pretty much everywhere. Key cities mean more organized culture-centric celebrations.

6/2/2011 at 4:26 PM

Why are Filipinos so migratory these days? For those of us who are curious, I would love links to P.I. history and culture. I mean I see more Filipinos in NYC all the time and actually do wonder - is this an "economic" diaspora? Just adventurous, like the wandering Australians I meet all the time????

6/2/2011 at 4:29 PM

Also - the Filipinos I've met are very family oriented - "bring over" their families frequently, visit the P.I.'s often - yet if I may be cliched, are much more outgoing and interested in "fitting into local culture" as well. Do I have that right? Where is this coming from? (All good to me!)

Private User
6/2/2011 at 4:38 PM

The outflux started in 1902 when the US-funded Philippine government started sending scholars to the United States. The next large batch would be soldiers' and their families after WWII. The recession in the 1980s marked another major exodus of highly skilled Filipinos -- something we referred to it as "brain drain".

Since then, the emigration can be attributed to the allure of higher education and of better employment opportunities abroad. I took my MA in London, my sister got hers in UCLA, my brother worked on F1 cars in China, my dad lived in San Francisco for a couple of years. We are all back in Manila now but my other sister lives in Southern California with her American husband. My cousins are all over the place! Wanderlust methinks. :)

Private User
6/2/2011 at 4:41 PM

Correction: not UCLA, USC. My sister will kill me for getting that wrong ...

Private User
6/2/2011 at 5:07 PM

My Uncle is an example of the "brain drain." He is an American educated Civil Engineer from a prominent family in Manila. He "brought over" and raised both his sister (military specialist) and his brother's (doctor) children. I view them as my cousins as they grew up along side my genetic cousins.

(My Aunt the Saint! She had under one roof six children, five of them teenagers, representing four different nuclear families from two different cultural backgrounds. Fun!)

All three of those "cousins" have stayed in America, received medical or technical degrees, married and started families here in America.

Our family has always has a large extended family reunion on the July 4th, so the Friendship Day has also been celebrated.

Private User
6/2/2011 at 5:41 PM

My youngest sister's godparents are Filipino. We met them when we lived in Virginia. We were neighbors in Navy housing. Their three children were our playmates for three years. He was a steward in the Navy, serving the commander of the Navy constellation of bases in Norfolk and Virginia Beach in the 1960's.

I now live in Silicon Valley. Of our 1.78 million people, 31% claim at least partial Asian roots, and 5.7% percent are Filipino. Three percent of our population list Tagalog as their first language.

I have many Filipino friends and clients. i know how important family ties and family history is. I know how often many of them make the trip back home for visits, even if their lives are here in California.

6/2/2011 at 6:08 PM

So is there a special need for outreach to "diaspora" Filipino communities, or would they be reached by marketing efforts within the P.I.?

I'm thinking, for instance, of the Jamaican American experience. Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C) -- do you and your family keep up on Jamaican news, or do you tend to stay only with Jamaican American news?

Well not you -- you read everything! But in terms of outreach and making sure we're hitting "pockets" of users, what can we take away from your own experiences that may apply to other immigrant / home country groups as well?

Private User
6/2/2011 at 7:00 PM

My paternal Grandfather was Ilocano (Ilokano). I don't know anything about the culture, the people or the traditions as I did not know that part of my family.

Here's a great Pinoy Wikipedia-style website: and an inside link to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands.

Private User
6/2/2011 at 8:56 PM

To the point about reaching out to the Filipinos, either in the motherland or abroad, potential stakeholders to the Geni Pilipinas portal should be able to contribute (or make us of) relevant content and organized tools to benefit from the ancestry research of others. I think that is the heart of the value proposition. Once we have that, the rest will come.

The big challenge is that research tools are not readily available for Filipinos. There are no large-scale on-line genealogy sites that provide vital records from the Philippines . Filipinos are under represented in CLDS has managed to digitize Manila records; but that is a small piece of a large pie. Geni can fill this void if we manage to create a large family forest, borne of the work of many individuals doing their own research.


If the objective of a Country Portal is to increase the number of collaborators and followers, Facebook is a platform that can lead to good traffic conversions. The Philippines belongs to the top 10 FB countries and one of the fastest growing ( Promoting the Geni App via FB ads or a "Like" campaign sounds promising.

Another idea: there are a handful of popular Filipino genealogy and history sites that can be used to promote Geni. Geni can perhaps offer a 1 year Geni PRO subscription to qualified visitors to the Filipino site? -- giving the site owner the freedom to decide how a visitor can win?

My random thoughts. :)

6/2/2011 at 9:43 PM

They are great marketing thoughts!

My impression of Filipinos is that (like Estonians, perhaps?) they are extremely active on the internet. So using "social networking" sites -- and promoting via social networking sites -- seems like the way to take Geni Pilipnas "viral."

Are there any media / blogs / television / etc. sites to target? Maybe, Mona, you can write up a "story" that compels interest, and we can create a target list for a press mailing by geni?

Private User,
the "trap" of using sites like Facebook to get user-groups organized, is that these groups tend to... STAY on FB, i.e. they don't follow-through and join the group/project on Geni. The FB Group lets them talk and all, so there is much less incentive to join the now duplicated Geni group.

Here is what my input to this topic was (with additional clarifications / editing):
Shalom all,

The Israeli "portal" project ( ), is a moderate success so far. We have 91 Collaborators and 301 Followers. This number is slowly growing in little bursts [we had 6 + 30 before our email biltz on our Independence, a month ago (5/5)]. Of these around 10-20 actually participate in discussions. At present, these portals are regular projects, with Discussions, Profiles and Documents of its own. I estimate that we'd need about twice that many members to keep a natural "flow" to things.

The primary purpose behind this portal, was to create a "safety zone". Being a native Israeli and specifically an internet freak for almost 20 years now, I know that too many Israelis are intimidated being "out in the open". We just get too much flak for daring to exist. So putting all of the public discussions in Hebrew "off to the side" under a project, makes people more comfortable (and we still get wary comments from our users). It would otherwise be impossible to even spot any Israeli specific PUBLIC discussions amongst the huge amount of all the others (about 60-80 new ones per day). Instead we have them all in one place.

We have no need for profiles (obviously).
I do intend to make use of the Documents feature. Such as Hebrew documentation of the site itself and a FAQ. Also probably general documents in Israeli/Jewish genealogy.

Also, we Jews/Israelis are VERY community focused, so we're trying to replicate that feeling "here" on Geni. In order to CREATE and encourage this aspect and the community's growth, we are now starting to get organized around Geni "work" and projects that are of special interest to us, such as merging duplicate trees and such.

As such, I think that if you want a portal, this should be kept completely DISTINCT from any existing "real" projects [like this one]. Mixing them together would only detract from both.

I think country portals are an awesome idea, and easy way to get people involved. They just take a lot of time and energy to push through the initial stages. So YES, do go ahead with it, especially if you think this will benefit this user group both in general (culturally) and both specifically to help Geni grow.

IMO, it is very important that the people PUSHING the project be "locals", which I see LipLip is. We Curators can advise or mentor, but it needs to come "from the people". Eventually we might even find ourselves with a Filipino Curator. :-D

I'm here for any further input. I wrote up how I think the "mailing campaign" could have been better, but would rather NOT share it here in public. Ask me if you want to see it.

I guess language would be less of an issue for you, but finding a quite "corner" to have country/community relevant discussions IS still a major advantage.

I also said:
I suggest that LipLip or Mona just go ahead and CREATE the project, and we can have a semi-public discussion there. I like simple names, so I suggest just naming it ....

Would "Pilipinas" be the "default way that you would expect users to SEARCH for this keyword?

Worst case is we delete the project later.

Private User
6/3/2011 at 6:44 AM

Hi Shmuel! 'Glad to hear of the successes of the Israeli portal. We can learn loads from your experience and that of others. I also echo your opinion that locals are often the best managers of their content. :)

On FB: I agree. Creating separate FB pages or groups just for Filipino Geni users does not further the cause. The earlier point is to use the FB platform (a powerful tool in the Philippines) as a catch to bring users to Geni, using the existing Geni FB page or Geni-initiated side ads. Other apps like "Family Link" and "We Are Related" have been more visible in this area. The objective to the marketing effort should be clear: Conversion of the FB through-traffic into tangible Geni memberships.

On branding: "Pilipinas" or "Pinoy", when used as a descriptive noun in an English name, is a popular branding tool, which brings forth a feeling of country pride. I use these terms in search engines myself when I want to look for something that was created by Filipinos. Only those familiar with Filipino colloquialism would use those terms. Just sharing, in case you are interested in the subtle nuances of "Tag-lish". :)


Back to the portal issue: I have been trying to wrap my head around potential content for a country portal separate from since this morning and I am drawing a blank.

Without the language issue and a grasp of what technical support we can offer, I feel the existing Master Project can act as that gateway to other Philippine-centric projects FOR NOW.

I suppose as soon as Geni gets Filipino curators on board and the number of credible collaborators increase, a true portal would grow organically. In the meantime, I can focus on innovating the existing content, thanks to the many great examples out there.

6/3/2011 at 7:37 AM


I see your point but the upside I can see to a portal project is to make it the "lobby" for new Filipino users. A place where they can introduce themselves -- maybe chat off topic -- ask tech questions -- etc.

It would have a warmer, friendlier vibe and you wouldn't need to change a word on the Umbrella "Families of the Philipines" Project. But this way people who just really want to gawk at the beauty show winners can stop by and make themselves a cup of virtual coffee first.

I do think the "warm welcome" thing is very helpful to building community and community discussions.

I actually need to think about how we can do that for the US. Maybe regional "interest groups."

6/3/2011 at 9:59 AM

For the US, the regional "interest groups" would be a GREAT idea!

Private User
6/3/2011 at 1:15 PM

I'm for a portal project. The "Families of the Philippines" project stays as is. The portal would then be a drop off point, a training ground for new Geni users, a place to chit-chat and just hang-out. If we need to invite or capture more Filipino Geni users, then we need to create a place for new users where they can participate actively no matter what the discussion/topic is.

Private User
6/3/2011 at 1:19 PM

Will be back. Out of town travel.

Private User
6/3/2011 at 5:23 PM

Please don't get me wrong, I am all for a portal which would offer assistance to beginners and present a sense of community -- that could offer a refuge from my rigidly structured research projects. Haha!

Still, I feel between me and Liplip (not sure if there are others active in other fora), we are non-curators who do NOT have the credibility, the knowledge or the tools to present ourselves as administrators at that level.

Perhaps Liplip can kick off that community portal when he gets back. I will let the ideas swirl in my head for now. :)

'Love how the there is so much excitement for this. Do the powers behind Geni have an opinion? Are there site functionalities in the pipeline which would be relevant to this discussion?

6/4/2011 at 8:34 AM

We need to get Private User and Private User looped in here.

George has taken Geni Marketing to a whole new level in a short time. From the initiatives underway I have seen, there are some tie ins already:


My understanding is it's hitting an American market mostly. So perhaps we can use this discussion on how to "internationalize" it more.

-- Conferences

George & Noah Tutak, CEO, have been hitting the genealogical conference trail this year, demonstrating the application, making connections, giving out Geni swag, running contests. I would love to see some numbers if George has any, but I can tell just from new American users -- yes, this program is successful.

So question on back for you, Mona.

-- what new and traditional media outlets can Geni "dial into" for the P.I.?

For instance, Grant Brunner did a "podcast" / interview to Estonia with one of the original "big tree" creators, Curator Henn Sarv. (Liivi & Lauri can tell you more about the Henn, I believe, but to my mind, he rules Estonia.)

-- Noah did a wonderful and informative podcast for geneabloggers and I'm sure would be up for doing more. (George tells me they love press opportunities.) Is there any media outlet in the P.I. that would be a natural fit you know of / can make contact with?

-- Shmuel discussed the emailing to Israel. If you're comfortable using the Families of the Philippines portal as the "pointer / lobby," maybe a next step is to draft a similar email for P.I. users and ask geni to do one for you all?

-- And sure, to tie it into "new functions" are a good publicity move. But we also have the events you mentioned so can "create" excitement around it.

I would be *very* interested, for instance, in the 4th of July P.I. / U.S.A. "friendship" day and I bet us other US curators would try and work on that. I'll go look up what is planned for NYC right now and post on back about it.

Private User
6/4/2011 at 9:39 PM

Great ideas, Erica.

Mona, please do NOT feel you must be a curator to do this. The majority of our portal projects were started by non-curators.

Private User
6/5/2011 at 12:32 AM

Project: Geni Philippines

After much thought I took the initiative in creating the Geni Philippines Project. The project main purpose (for now) is to serve as a "go to" place for new Filipino Geni users.

Mona, no need to worry. This project is not a duplicate of the existing Families of the Philippines project. In fact, it even complements it.

Feel free everyone to add yourself to the new project. We can continue the discussion at the new project to give it traffic.

Happy weekend everyone.

Private User
6/5/2011 at 8:27 AM

Way to go, LipLip! We like initiative!

I will follow this new project, and do what I can. I also linked the two Filipino projects to each other.

Feel free to "borrow" text from the Israel Portal.

Private User
6/5/2011 at 3:20 PM

Thanks for kicking it off, LipLip! I've followed the project as well. :)

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