“WE COVER the many things that make a city unique, and that includes its art,” says James Ong, editorial director of Coconuts Media, a network of city websites that started in Bangkok and is now available in eight Asian cities, including Manila.
Among the Filipino artists Coconuts has featured in its web-only video series called “Art Coco” are sculptor Leeroy New and painter Romulo Galicano. “For each shoot, we spent hours in the artist’s studios getting them to know them, making them comfortable, and ensuring that we are able to communicate their vision to a wider regional audience. Filipino artists in particular tend to be shy and don’t like to explain their work, and sometimes that’s a challenge,” explains Ong.
Last week, the Coconuts team was busy filming international street artists participating the first-ever ArtBGC One Festival in Taguig.
“We were the only media partner, and when we first learned about the festival months ago, when it was still a seed of an idea, we told the organizer that we want to be part of it, we want to spread the world about Metro Manila being a cultural hub to the Asian region,” he says.
The videos will also be getting an extra boost locally via ABS-CBNnews.com, with whom it recently signed a content partnership agreement.
According to Coconuts founder and managing director Byron Perry, that would help expand Coconuts’ audience in the Philippines while the media giant gets more eyeballs in the region.
Adds Ging Reyes, head of ABSCBN Integrated News, “We have a strong digital presence now, but we want to give our news audience more choices in terms of stories from the Southeast Asian region, where Coconuts Media has several bureaus. In turn, we also want to reach Coconuts Media’s loyal following, through our digital specials and the exclusive content that our news gathering group produces.”
One of the video series that ABS-CBNnews.com has already been syndicating is “Carinderia Crawl,” which features hole-in-the-wall eateries in Metro Manila.
Recently, the news website also picked up a drone video produced by Coconuts Media that captured the empty streets of Manila during the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout. The video became an instant hit.
Snarky but compassionate
So what makes Coconuts tick?
Perry said that the one thing that differentiates them from other online news channels is their voice.
“We would like to say we are snarky but compassionate,” he said. “We are funny when appropriate, but we also handle serious things that we treat with gravity as well.”
Perry said that he is launching Coconuts in the big cities of India—Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi. He added that they are looking into launching Coconuts in smaller cities in the local market, possibly in Cebu.
“We also like to continue to ramp up our video production, and do more shows, one of documentaries,” he said. “We want to make more videos in the Philippines. We don’t have any hard plans right now as to any specific series but we look for more docu-style videos in the Philippines.”