, February 17, 2005 (STAR) Carrie Bradshaw, the hip and stylish young single cosmopolitan New Yorker in the hit TV series, Sex and the City, once bewailed, ""If you are single, after graduation, there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you... I am talking about the single gal. Hallmark doesn't make a, "Congratulations, you didn't marry the wrong guy" card."

And she was right. Here in the Philippines, statistics show that more and more men and women from their twenties to mid-thirties, have remained single longer. Itís not that they have lost faith in the institutions of marriage and family, but with the numerous options available to them today, they are choosing to delay this step and remain single for now.

However, our culture has always left many of the older generation and those who have chosen to marry early, constantly puzzled at this new convention. Singles always find themselves being paired off with other singles in the hope of helping them "find love", get into a committed relationship, and finally married. This and other awkward and tedious dating games, have made just about every new single person today ducking and going the other direction, if not totally avoiding reunions and parties.

"We have found from the thousands of singles in our member base, that many of those who are still unattached today are actually single by choice," reveals Joe Mercado, CEO of Bigfoot Global Solutions, Inc., the group behind the local singles portal, www.itzamatch.com. In their website, they provide a venue for Filipino singles who want to meet other Filipino singles who share their interests and values. "What they are actually seeking are events and places where they could mingle with others like them without the pressures and awkwardness of conventional dating," adds Mercado.

Marketing experts have put these people into a new niche to watch out for: the young cosmopolitans, or YOCOs. They arenít necessarily that young, married to their careers, and have a preference for convenience-driven and digital lifestyles, smart products and services, and those that promise intense sensory experiences like extreme sports, action-packed adventure weekends, sensations like aromatherapy, authentic ethnic foods and flavored drinks.

"These single-by-choice YOCOs, we have learned, are eager to enjoy their current status, but arenít necessarily thrilled by the prospect of finding kindred souls in clichť places like bars. We studied their needs, and are constantly trying to keep up with their pace and their thirst for life," Mercado says. Thatís why their site doesnít really focus on the usual finding a match in the romantic way that other dating sites have. The first in the country, the secure and multi-platform www.itzamatch.com helps their members celebrate singlehood, by helping link them with "peers", keeping them abreast with various schools of thought and expressions through interesting articles, allowing them access to the comprehensive profiles via the Internet or mobile phones, and -- the most innovative of all -- giving them the opportunity to meet and celebrate in person.

Mercado announces that a post valentineís event on March 4, www.itzamatch.com will host a Manila Bay cruise on Prestige Cruisesí Tennessee Liner, for registered members and other singles to celebrate the month of love. "Singles usually dread Valentineís because it puts pressure on their being unattached. What we will have on the cruise is a party that celebrates them," Mercado expounds. Even more exciting than that is the planned trip to Singapore in May, for parties, sightseeing, and a special cruise, this time, aboard the popular Star Cruise liner, for itzamatch members and singles like them from Singapore.

"Itís all about being happy because you chose to stay single, and not feeling the odd one out for a change," he ends.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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