There is no end to the frustrations of having your SULITXT or UNLITXT expire with a lot of juice left in it, and I have recently just given up availing of these text services. This effort to save on expenditures is tokenistic at best, for pretty soon I expect to go back to the times when my load expires thanks to my saving. Which in turn obliges me to reload again, and so the vicious cycle continues. People would probably point out that only I can stop my history to repeat itself, but I can’t: I need to text.
Even if one is not a member of the Texters’ Anonymous, it cannot be denied how the SMS plays a central role in the lives of Filipinos. How can it not in the texting capital of the world, where about 60 million people have mobile phones? Texting has virtually bridged gaps between people who want to communicate — so long as your mobile can get a signal, which Sun Cellular subscribers seem to be having a hard time with.
A bigger problem is how our load is extremely fleeting. UP anthropology professor Michael Tan has pointed out how the duration of loads in China can reach up to a year, as opposed to our maximum of 4 months. And, thought it might seem alien to teens who text one-liners to 5 friends at a time, this kind of setup actually takes a toll on the common Filipino – they who sends the occasional message only for the important stuff; They who can’t afford loads that allow for a maximum duration.
Aside from these and Juan Ponce Enrile’s load being transmuted into ringtones he unknowingly downloaded, we experience a variety of problems that remain unaddressed by the Telephone Companies. We also have the National Telecommunications Commission claiming itself to be toothless, and more and more appearing to be in collusion with the Telcos to squeeze out maximum profits from texting.
Yet even as critical consumer groups like TXTPower and even the Senate itself continue to demand reforms from the NTC-Telcos clique, it all seems to fall on deaf ears: something that I find ironic in the sense that Telcos are supposed to be providers of tools for effective communications, obviously not something we are able to achieve in lobbying for change.
But I do not hold the Telcos and NTC solely to blame, for it has been the general trend in the government to subscribe to the notion that we are in the era of information technology while experiencing complete, utter failure in doing so with the people. Whatever happened to public service?
Apparently, their idea of such is to speak of resilient economies while consumers suffer from chronic price hikes. Or to speak of the virtues of automated elections while the COMELEC orchestrates a failure of elections or, at the every least, an auction for the presidency. Or to claim that they consider education a priority when state colleges and universities continue to experience budget cuts, noodle scams abound in the lower school levels and protesting students get truncheon smashes and bullets thrown their way instead of subsidies.
For all intents and purposes, all lines to the government are busy now. And I have been wondering all this time: since when did communication become a one-way thing?
Tomorrow on June 30, let us make the communication a two-way thing again. Register our protest of the charter change shenanigans of this tyrannical regime, and deepen our understanding of the social cancer our country is experiencing and what we can do to help.