Filipino student creates social networking service

By Erwin Oliva
Last updated 03:37pm (Mla time) 05/04/2007

MANILA, Philippines –Twenty-year-old student Jerome Uy of the Mapua Institute of Technology is attracting young Filipinos and alike to a social networking website he created.

Developed in late November 2006, the social networking service, dubbed Oyaye, has already registered about 8,000 members as of April this year, and more are people signing up to his service.

Combining different elements he picked from other existing social networking services, Uy disclosed in an e-mail interview that this one-man endeavor is an effort to develop a “new web 2.0 website that would focus on the needs of the Filipinos.”

“Slowly I have developed a search engine powered by Google that gives more results from the Philippine websites. I hope that in the future, this site would cater to the needs of every Filipino locally and abroad featuring job search, real estate ads, classifieds, and authentic job listings for Filipinos going abroad. Hopefully within two years this site would be one of the top web 2.0 sites on the Net that Filipinos can be proud of,” he said.

School requirements prompted Uy to develop Oyaye.

While attending his National Service Training Program class, he found it impossible to keep up with the information posted by their professors on Yahoo Groups to collaborate the events and assignment on the Internet. So he went ahead and developed his social networking website.

He claims to have done most of the design and the backend programming. But he intends to outsource “some of the difficult programming jobs” to other people soon; that is, if he finds money to spare.

There is also a story behind the name Oyaye (pronounced as Oh-Ya-Yeah).

“It was just a coincidence that Oyaye is also found in the Filipino dictionary. It motivated me more to think that the site would get a lot of Filipino visitors because of its name and origin. I really believe that the Philippines can be at par with other countries. This can be seen in the social networking site of Friendster that receives most traffic from the Philippines. By centralizing the need in the online market , Oyaye could be the one stop online source of Filipino users,” he said.

By word of mouth, Uy said he was able to attract people to try his online service.

Asked if he has already mapped a business plan for the site, he admitted he has yet to do so.

“So far, Google Adsense is able to shoulder a bit of its webhosting fees that I’m paying every month,” he added.

Yu was born in Manila but he eventually studied in Brunei for about 12 years. He came home in 2001 after his dad suffered a stroke.

“When I arrived here, I looked for a summer job as a computer technician and then shifted to web design when I got addicted to the Internet,” he said.

Eventually he got a job in a company as a web designer. In 2002, he moved to a company in Makati as a web developer and consultant for e-commerce integration. But he went back to Brunei to continue his studies and work part-time as a network administrator.

Currently, he stopped going to school for a semester to take care of his dad. “Hopefully I’ll be back (to school) this June,” he said.

Oyaye is still evolving, Uy said. For now, he is just proud that he has developed a social networking website that friends and other people have found useful.