Sometime in late 2016 (Or was it early 2017?), the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) through a service provider, started erecting poles and stringing lines from Calinan going to Barangay Talandang in Tugbok District via Barangay Talomo Riverside and Barangay Biao Joaquin, both in Calinan District.
Every time barangay residents find the contracted workers having their break they endeavored to inquire from them what it was that they were working on. And the residents got the same answer: that anytime soon they can have landline telephone connection in their houses and they can subscribe to the internet.
When barangay residents asked the workers how soon would the mentioned communication services come, the answer was always: “As soon as the stringing will be completed including the other similar project from Buhangin to Biao Eskwela via Waan, Magtuod, New Carmen and New Valencia.
The people in the barangays mentioned, majority of them also deprived of mobile communication service due to absence of signal coverage in most parts of the villages, suddenly turned ecstatic. It won’t be long and they will be able to communicate to relatives and friends in the city’s urban and suburban areas, and to the rest of the world. Yes, like them we too were agog with such possibility because we have a small area being developed in one of the barangays mentioned. We have a house that we call our retirement abode. And we believe that with the telecommunication service opened in the area we need not come down to the city proper to be able to talk to our kids who are working downtown. We would not also be missing our eldest son who is a mariner on an ocean-going vessel who now resides in CoViD 19 epicenter Cebu City, as well as our other relatives who are in other parts of the country and elsewhere in the world working for their families.
Towards the close of 2017 people in the barangays concerned saw the stringing of the cable from Calinan up to the boundary of barangay Talandang and Biao Eskwela completed. When they inquired at the telephone company’s Calinan sub-office when they can start applying they were told that they have to wait after the other line-stringing project from Buhangin will be connected with the Calinan line.
At the start of the second quarter of 2018 people in those barangays have observed that the line coming from Buhangin was already strung up to the boundary of Talandang and Biao Eskwela. What was lacking was the actual connection of the two opposite cables.
The barangay residents waited eagerly for the joining of the two lines. But since the middle of 2018 workers of the service providers of PLDT could hardly be seen anymore. We were among the many from the barangays who trooped to the PLDT Calinan sub-office to ask the status of the project and when we could possibly start applying for connection. That was sometime in August of 2018. The answer we got was that when we saw digital boxes already installed on the poles and are numbered, agents will be calling on our houses bringing with them application forms. The estimate they gave us was sometime starting October of the same year.
October came, then November and December. The year 2018 ended. The digital boxes remained unnumbered. No single sales agent representing PLDT came. We started hearing barangay residents saying they are losing their enthusiasm over the communication services finally coming. Their and of course our expectations, were slowly turning into disgust.
Somehow, this was tempered when the residents learned through a businessman who acquired a property in Talandang that one of the two line stringing projects had resulted in a snag because of some major errors in the installation. It was surmised that the wrongly implemented project had to be re-done and some legal proceedings may have been resorted to in order to determine the extent of the cost that will have to be slapped on the erring service contractor.
But during the two weeks that followed barangay residents were surprised to see the supposedly fiber optic cables installed by the contractors from Calinan going up to the boundary of Biao Eskwela and Talandang were detached from its carrier cable, brought down, rolled and laid just on the road side.
When people, including us, started asking what happened and why the dismantling of the strung line after over two years of work, the answer given us is that, the cable will be changed with bigger one that can also allow faster communication transmission.
Wow! That is the most surprising information we got from a company that is supposed to deliver efficient and correct messages to its customers including those prospective ones.
If PLDT is to remain credible to its customers in this time of challenges by competition perhaps it owes the people of the earlier-mentioned rural barangays some explanation.
We cannot imagine that in this era of modern technology when communication is only a matter of clicking the mouse of computers, pushing a button, or touching a key the country’s leading communications company, for now, could not even communicate to its future customers. That is one record to beat.
Or, should we rather believe that there is connivance among certain PLDT personnel, its contractors, and some IT savvy guys who are now making a killing from the fees they collected from those who they were able to convince to have their residence installed with internet and wi-fi connections telling their prospective clients that the PLDT services are still a long wait.
The packaged installation cost these IT experts are collecting between P9,000 to P15,000 with monthly dues of P1,500.
And where do these new telco “operators” are getting their signal? We learned that they are installing their own tower in a secluded place somewhere in the barangays mentioned herein. And it is quite apparent this “sideline” business of the contractors, the shrewd PLDT people, and the secret telco operators is tolerated by the giant telecommunications company. Unless all its Davao people are sleeping on their jobs.
Last Tuesday we saw the woman we have asked so often as to the status of the line activation. We asked her again. And her answer was “copy paste” of her answers in our many previous inquiries. “Hapit na gyud Sir.”