That’s just about how I can describe this past week: “Steady as she goes.” No major disasters or minor setbacks. Nothing truly out of the ordinary and nothing to raise the blood pressure levels to the danger zone. It’s been a welcome reprise from all that has happened over the past few weeks. Let me continue with some examples.
FROM SLO & NO TO GO! BRO
My Internet connectivity via SMART Bro seems to be well in order now, and in fact a little better than it was prior to that SEVENTEEN DAY outage. I’m still awaiting word with regard to credit for missing connectivity. It feels as though I am now in negotiations with SMART Bro for a rebate. SEVENTEEN DAYS is HALF of a MONTH. I figure that I should get a half-month’s credit.
Connectivity-wise and speed-wise, things are now “as advertised” again. One friend who also subscribes to SMART Bro achieved a download speed in excess of 4MB the other day. Of course it was during a time when bandwidth use wasn’t peak, but hey, that’s quite a speed to chart! I’m still chugging along around a 1.67MB download speed which keeps me and all of my ancillary electronics happy.
Now, “if only” the electricity co-op would take the cue and be a little more thoughtful in it’s brown outs. Remember: no power equals no Internet connectivity, regardless of where down the line the juice is turned off.
IT STARTED WITH A LETTER
Actually it was an email. It was the start of my scratching that itch of revitalization that I reported last week. Prior to the letter, though:
When I decided to get back into the swing of things on the ham radio scene, I started to do some research. I needed to know just what I had to do to be “legal” and allowed to operate here in the Philippines. I must be one heckuva researcher – I uncovered more information than I was ready to handle. In short, it seemed as though the hoops I needed to jump through were just as tough and as numerous as anything else admin-related in the islands. For a moment, I thought I was trying to apply for citizenship (or higher office) or some other object nearly out of the grasp of a simple human being. Yes, I was overwhelmed.
Then a light went on (a real light, not a CFL!). Why not inquire as to what procedures and policies were. Communicating with those in charge can’t hurt the situation. Thus, the letter/email.
THE EXPAT’S DILENMA
While awaiting a reply, my imagination thought up some of the darnedest scenarios. Of course, each on included a folder (provided upon payment of a fee) jammed full of applications, information sheets, reference letters, proxy letters, and endless copies of this, that and the other. The scenarios had me with folder in hand either trying to find a courier brave enough to forward it, or even having me on a plane to Manila.
That last one was a horrific daydream – it included:
- trying to find a small governement office well-hidden in the depths of the city;
- taking a number for service that was quite larger than the number being served;
- trying to find a chair in a waiting area that was forever standing room only;
- starting my trek once my number was called, only to find out that I would be visiting a number of different windows;
- finding most of those windows closed; and
- having my folder-full of admin checked and rechecked, stamped and restamped, all while dishing out different fees plus “expedite” fees.
Oh, how cynical some daydreams can be here in paradise! I’m sure some of it sounds familiar, though – doesn’t it?
RELIEF IN A LETTER
But the letter/email! Its response spared me all of the nasty thoughts of “what might be” and provided me with the welcome relief of “what is.” The response was from the Secretariat of the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA), and it provided a few required forms for filling out as well as a detailed description of all other requirements (to include a very reasonable fee schedule!). The best part was that all transactions of information and fees could be handled electronically! There was no need to appear here or there. Just assemble all of the required items into electronic format and attach them to an email. Payment of fees could be made by various methods – I’m selecting the use of XOOM.com.
What I thought would be a long, drawn out process is turning into a simple one. And it can all be accomplished from right here in front of my laptop without having to move (other than stroking the keyboard). The required items include an application form (of course), an information sheet, a copy of my passport showing my picture and signature, a copy of my current USA license, a passport type photo (they’ll turn it into the required 3 pcs photos 1″x1″), and a certification of good moral character issued by the Embassy or other dignitary such as Police or Reverend.
That last one has me in a holding pattern. I’ve everything else ready to go. My first attempt to obtain that certification will be with the Barangay Kapitan. If that’s a no go, then there’s always the municipal folks, the Police, or the Parish Priest. I am of good moral character! It’s true! I just have to get someone else to say so!
Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!