Last April, I stumbled on data nobody seems to have noticed or even reported as a story. It came from Google’s Insights for Search–out of a random search for “love,” “in love,” “out of love” and “broken heart” in the Google tool. It turned out be a popular word like the other four-letter word (no, it’s not that word) these days: free. The results amazed me. It all pointed to one country: The Philippines.
I monitored the findings for three months before finalizing the story, even if the findings seem to point to the same result back in 2004. Then I pitched it for one whole month to the presses. Even to the New York Times Mag’s “Phenomenon” section, confident as I was because a growing trend in Japan was featured in a recent article. No responses. Time passed. I sent it to my former employer-pub. They kept it on hold over a month before publishing it this month, less 1/4 of it for space considerations. The figures changed. For the exact word, “love,” the Philippines went down a notch. Otherwise, the entire searches for love’s other various permutations were still correct.
I listed the time frame of my findings in the piece, but this was edited out. A third of the piece was also cut, including many other controverial points, because of limited space (it was for the print edition which was then uploaded online).
Looking back, I consider the story and the idea behind Google’s search tool a happy accident. I have been using Google’s Insights for Search more often now, as a tool even writers can use when thinking of a story to write about.
Here’s the link to the story, “Believe it or not, RP is Love Central.”–dennis clemente