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MelindasPenpals.com is a fun Filipino dating site that aims to match you with charming Filipino females for friendship, dating and long-term relationships. It has all the basic features you'd expect to see on this kind of site, allowing you to get in touch in a variety of ways, plus some extras including blogs and one-click searches. However, the membership base is quite small and it's not the simplest site to use, which means that it falls outside our Top 10.
As with many online dating sites, it's free to join and create your profile. One of the biggest problems with MelindasPenpals.com is the small membership base. At the time of this review there were just 8,324 members registered, which pales in comparison with most of the other sites in this category, even other sites outside the Top 10 such as FilipinoCupid.com. That said, every profile will have at least one photo uploaded, so you won't see any profiles without a photo. You'll find over 20,000 photos uploaded, indicating that a significant proportion of members have uploaded multiple photos, which can be arranged in albums. The quality of photos is reasonable, if perhaps a little small and grainy. As you might imagine, with such a small membership base there isn't much of an online buzz; at the time of this review there were less than 100 online. Male members tend to come from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. Females come from all over the Philippines and range from twenties to sixties.
Profiles feature a range of information; basic demographics, appearance, lifestyle, family and professional fields are all covered, as well as a self-written section. You can also see when a member joined and last activity to gage whether that profile is still active. In addition to viewing member bios and photos, some profiles include video messages, blog link, virtual gifts received and status updates, which you won't find on too many other sites. You can also get in touch by sending a 'smile' (an automatic message to initiate contact), email, virtual gift or instant message. You can also send a friend request or add a member to your favorites list.
It's also possible to upgrade your membership. Rather than paying a set fee, you set your own donation amount (in $US), which then allows you to send virtual gifts and use the Instant Messenger (IM) feature without the need for purchasing credits, which is how the site makes money. If you remain a free member you can use all the features that an upgraded member can, with the exception that to send some virtual gifts or to chat online using IM, you have to pay (each costing 1 credit-$1.00 a time). So, for a modest donation you could get a really cheap membership, but do bear in mind that there may be fewer members to lavish your gifts upon than on other sites.
In addition to all the usual stuff you'll find on a site like this, you can write your own blog or create status updates, both of which offer additional avenues for self-expression with the goal of putting you in touch with others. There's also a guest book feature (letting people leave comments on your profile). A few search options exist, comprising a general search, which is basic, as well as tabbed searches listing new members, online members, members by city and media galleries (photo and video). The only thing is that you have to specify the number of profiles you wish to view (usually last 48, 96, 144, 192 or 240 profiles). Why they do it this way is slightly mystifying and it soon becomes an annoyance. In short, there's plenty to keep you occupied, it just feels a little quiet. In case you need any technical assistance there's a help page on the site and email support should you need to get in touch for anything else not covered on the help page.
Whilst it lacks members, MelindasPenpals.com has been carefully thought out and offers all the basics plus some features that you won't find elsewhere. It also offers one of the cheapest upgraded membership packages in this category, so it has to be worth checking out.
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