As I have mentioned in previous articles, electronics and communications amoungst other things have been a lifelong hobby for me and at times my source of income. You would think that when Cell Phones started to become universally popular I would have had one immediately. Instead it has always had the opposite affect. I have always tried to keep monthly bills and paid accounts to a minimum where possible and having a traditional landline phone is enough for me. When I am away from my landline phone I just don’t want to be bothered with phone calls. I don’t have a business so I don’t need one for that. Put simply, I just never wanted to be bothered with or have the additional expense of a Cell Phone.
Prior to my first visit to The Philippines I had learned how Cell Phones are the primary means of communication with the general population and text messages outnumber voice communication. What really surprised me was when I got there and found so many people texting just about anywhere and everywhere ! The first time I went to a popular local resto-bar I took a good look around and it seemed like people were paying more attention to texting than to socializing and enjoying the company of those they were with. Having dinner with friends the first few times although we did have some enjoyable conversation If I had not known better, I might have become rather annoyed that those present continued texting right through dinner. I had never experienced anything like this before. When one of them just about held a cell phone across the table at me I inquired ” Are you texting someone ? ” the reply was, ” No I am doing my Facebook ” . If something like this happened to me here in the USA I might have become rather annoyed over this. In knowing scenes like this could be considered somewhat modern day normalcy in The Philippines I just accepted it as part of the culture which is one of the things I went there to experience in the first place.
For my first four visits, one or more of my friends there handled most of the texting for me involving plans with others, changes in plans, etc. In those first four visits I learned a little at a time how the Cell Phone system works there concerning buying load ( cell phone minutes ), sim cards, different carriers etc. I still had no desire to become involved with having a cell phone myself although I got the impression that all of the texting on my behalf by my friends at times was becomming a bit of a burden.
As I am always monitoring the internet for things happening in Iligan City and with the addition of an all English Speaking webstream from radio station DXMA I learned of a new store opening called ” Bodega Site ” featuring Cell Phones, Cameras and Computers. From what I had learned about it via Internet it was a place I wanted to see on my next visit. I already have a camera, I didn’t need a PC or laptop so what else was left ? On the long plane ride from New York to The Philippines I gave it some thought about ” maybe ” buying a cell phone and try to learn how to use it to relieve some of the texting my friends had been doing for me on my prior visits. I had previously discovered I could buy a name brand, decent quality ” Basic ” cell phone for less that the equivalent of $20 ( USD ), I consider the system of payment for cell phones in The Philippines as a true ” pay as you go ” situation to be most favorable. As The Philippines is known as the ” texting capitol of the world ” I knew I would be surrounded by experts to ” Teach Me To TXT ” ! If I had found my intro to cell phone and texting to be more burdensome than worthwhile I would not be out of a lot of money. In the early days of Cell Phones here in the USA they were in the hundreds of dollars for the phone and the subscription account.
Early on in my last visit, one of my Iliganon friends and I went to visit the Bodega Site store which I had heard and seen so much of thanks to the Internet. I found the place to be most attractive, clean and orderly with quite a variety of brands, models of equipment and accessories. There is also an in-house service counter. My friend helped me to select a ” Basic ” cell phone by Samsung and I think I paid something like 800 Peso for it. Prior to paying for the phone, I asked to speak to the Manager. I always like to inform store managers, owners etc. how i found out about them from the other side of the world, which so many times is such a welcomed surprise to them.
Moments later I am introduced to store manager Johnalyn Cabili who greeted me with one of those traditional big Filipino ( in this case Filipina ) smiles and a warm welcome to their Bodega Site store. As she became so interested in how I learned of the store I was invited to have a seat at a table in the showroom and offred a cup of coffee which I naturally accepted. I enjoyed our conversation very much and this made the purchase of my first cell phone ” More Fun ” than I ever could have anticipated!
Back to the hotel, the friend that went with me to buy the phone, an engineering student at MSU-IIT, begins going over some of the basics of how to use my first cell phone. I made a few test text messages to other friends so they could have the phone number and I later explained to all of them that if they text me I might not always give them an immediate reply or I could possibly misplace their message. It worked out well for me and relieved some of the percieved burden to my friends of handling so many text messages on my behalf during my stay. I used my cell phone right up to the last minutes in the boarding area for my flight back to New York to say good bye and thanks to my friends in Iligan City.
Obviously, as it is this cell phone will not work here so it is back in its box, taken out once in a while to charge the battery and have a look at the last messages I recieved on it to bring back the entire experience of my cell phone adventure.
Sometimes it is best to wait for the right time and the right place for certain things to take place. For me, buying my first Cell Phone and learning how to use it was without a duubt, ” More Fun In The Philippines “.