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Philippines: The country that never sleeps (behind-the-enemy-lines.com)
53 points by Panos on Apr 3, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments

I have cousins that work at help desks in the Philippines, and their work schedules are designed to match US time zones. After work, they hang out at bars with happy hours designed for them - I believe around ten in the morning. They hang out, then go home to sleep for the rest of the day.

Globalisation at work.

If you are ever in the Phils, you can see this - ask to go to Eastwood - they have a number of condo high rises and office buildings. The first and sometimes second floors of the buildings, are filled with coffee shops and restaurants.

Yup, here in Eastwood, workers with lanyards and badges all day and all night, streaming in and out by the thousands. It's quite a sight. Great, inquisitive people and always friendly.

It's cool to have nearly real-time confirmation from someone who is actually there! ... I found the UCC Coffee shop to be expensive however, but I am a cheap guy :-)

I'm a Filipino Developer, this is actually an alternative for us developers in the Philippines, instead of going abroad working overseas which will be very far from our families, we got a lot of opportunities from foreigners who wants for outsource their development projects, it earns us quite substantial income, though its not as high as when your really working abroad, being with your family and seeing your children grow up mostly makes up for it. Staying up late is not that hard as me myself is most productive at night when kids are asleep. I know most programmers share this work time.

Very interesting. I think a line graph would have been a better choice than the stacked line graph -- the undulations in the bottom layers make it hard to see the phenomenon being discussed, which is the flatness of the Philippines.

I'm sampling a few points from the chart and will try to create the corresponding line graph.

Here is a non-stacked line graph of the 6AM Monday to 6AM Tuesday data, created via the appallingly low-tech approach of measuring the pixel locations at a few timepoints:


The Philippines is indeed dramatically flatter than the others!

I have seen programs to help with this digitization of graphs[1]. At times some data sets (the graphs) have no other raw data shown or available, so the only way to do further analysis is to reverse engineer the only data set you are given. Low tech is awesome.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Converting_scanned_graphs_to_d...

Sorry, my fault both for not creating the graph properly, and for not giving the data. Both fixed now.

Filipinos are great for business process outsourcing. They tend to have fairly good written and spoken English and have a decent work ethic.

I'm not as big a fan of them for software work. For coders, eastern Europe is your best bet, with Brazil picking up a lot of steam in the last few years as well.

Great article, Panos!

Of course, there are other effective ways to provide a real-time worldwide workforce without relying on folks staying up all night. MobileWorks pulls it off by employing trained workers in both hemispheres: for instance, Latin America.

Mechanical Turk is an example of how not to do this – the performance disparity between random US and Indian workers there causes more trouble than it's worth.

Originally from the states, I've been renting a condo here in Manila for going on 6mo, neighboring IBM, Dell, and several other BPO buildings. I keep on US time and can vouch for it being just as busy at 4am as 4pm. I've heard mixed reviews on retaining employees, but English is ubiquitous. I've had to call AMEX and I end up talking to someone down the street, but wouldn't have guessed until they brought it up.

Philippines has a chain of hamburger joints called "Burger Machine" whose branches are often open 24x7; their song includes the phrase "the burger that never sleeps".

I have my face in a Burger Machine record book. I don't remember my exact time now, but it was like 1:05ish. I'm sure someone has beaten me by now but the staff sure was impressed when I did it :)

And now we know how the Philippinos that work overnight are being fed.

Just a quick correction, people from our country are called Filipinos. :)

I'm curious: What are specific examples of "variety of tasks" and "crowd applications" that the author is talking about? Are we in some kind of cyborg software revolution?

Well, we are. Kind of :-)


There are many software applications today that are being seamlessly powered by a combination of human and machine intelligence. For example, Google Books is mainly digitized with OCR but then ReCAPTCHA is used to bring human intelligence for fixing the mistakes of the OCR process.

sounds like an anti-Indian propaganda.Were you not a bit too critical?Are you implying that all Filipinos are excellent technical workers?I spent a lot of time in India and found my share of both,and I think majority of them are really good ,dedicated technical workers.

In my experience Indian workers are a bad bet. The average quality of work I've gotten from Filipinos is higher, for slightly less money. Filipinos on average make more of an effort to understand requirements and seem to take more pride in their work. The best Indian talent is at a higher level than what you can generally find in the Philippines, but I wouldn't expect to get that.

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