The Philippines has always been ahead of the curve, especially compared to the United States, in regards to text messaging. I don’t know if they still hold the title, but they are known as the texting capital of the world. We are rapidly catching up though. Just check with any teenager here. There is a good chance you will get no response on a phone call to their cell, but a text almost always returns a quick reply.

It can be pretty expensive to send an international text from the US. Some plans are better than others, but I believe my AT&T plan charges me 15 cents each way. Thankfully there are many other options now.


If you are just wishing to send a straight text message (SMS) to a cell phone in the Philippines, there are two choices that I have found that are free and work most of the time.

Chikka is an old standard that many in the Philippines are familiar with. There used to be an application that you could download and send a text from there, but now it seems that you just do it within the browser. The problem with this method are you must be at your computer to send a text, and replies come back to your computer and/or your email if you have that set. I also find this to be very hit and miss as to whether the message is sent and received. When there were no reasonable alternatives, this was the best method I found to send free texts.

Yahoo Messenger has allowed free text messages for a long time also. When I tried them many years ago, it was even more unreliable than Chikka, but I do not find that to be true anymore. Additionally, now that smart phones have the YM app, you can send texts right from your phone. Incoming messages are alerted just like a text messages. This is completely free from within YM, the sender in the Philippines will probably still be charged their normal outgoing text charges, with incoming texts being free to them.

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If your intended receiver has YM set to mobile, all Instant Messages (IM) will be sent to their cell phone as a text. There is probably no real advantage to someone from the US who is just concerned with sending a text, as it works the same from this side, but it is another option. Of course if you are at your computer, you can just send the IM, and not need to worry about whether they are online or on their phone.

IM to IM

If your recipient is the owner of a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry and Droid) they would also have access to the Yahoo Messenger app. This makes things even easier and free for all involved. There are other options at this point such as MSN Messenger, AIM and even Skype. You wouldn’t need to do texting at all, just use IM both ways and enjoy free instant communication.

Skype has also added video calling, which means you can video chat phone to phone or phone to computer. Apple’s iPhone has Facetime which does the same thing. This is really great technology when is is working, but I find the quick text message to be much more useful most of the time.

All in all it is much easier to stay in touch with someone in the Philippines via messaging than it used to be. Sure beats the high cost of regular phone to phone texting, too.