You can’t call me. You can’t text me. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I don’t have a phone when I’m in the Philippines. Based on what I have observed in public, I might be the only person in this country without a phone. Even people living in poverty seem to have cell phones. Sometimes I wonder if the people sleeping on the public sidewalk, oblivious to the crowds passing them by in both directions, might actually have a cell phone hidden away in the dirty rags they are wearing (or perhaps even someplace more disgusting).
My wife has 2 phones and she uses both of them. Someday I expect I’ll catch her holding one phone to each ear simultaneously, talking and listening. I don’t attribute my wife’s admirable phone skills to being a Filipino. I think it’s more of a gender thing, perhaps enhanced a bit by her Filipino DNA. My wife isn’t what most people would consider very technical, yet she seems capable of doing just about anything with her phones. I no longer worry about catching some horrible disease in the Philippines, as I am sure my wife could press a few buttons on her cell phone, touch it to my forehead, and instantly cure me with the proper app (assuming, of course, she wanted to).
Why don’t I have a phone? It’s simple really. Nobody in the Philippines wants to talk to me. Everyone here would rather speak Cebuano to my wife, and let her translate anything relevant to me. This system of communication works well for me since I don’t like phones. I’ve never been a phone person. Back in America, I worked my entire career in information technology. Nine times out of ten when the phone rang, it wasn’t good news. Somebody was always asking about a project deadline or reporting a system issue/failure. For many years, if I chose to ignore the phone my pager would go off (remember those?). I’m retired now, however, all those years of bad phone calls cause me to shudder whenever I hear a phone start to make noise. Ok…maybe I exaggerate a little….but you get the idea.
Even though I don’t carry a phone, I seem to often be paying for them. First, we bought one for my wife when we first retired to Cebu a year ago. Second, we bought one for our teenage helper so we could monitor her and not worry. Lastly, we purchased one for a teenage member of our band so we could communicate when it was time to practice. That’s 3 phones I paid for, and none of them are mine.
Philippine teens are every bit as addicted to their cell phones as their western counterparts. Every member of our band has one. About the only time, they aren’t looking down at their phone is when they are performing. It’s also an important tool for them when learning a new song. They listen to a phone play the song over and over until they find the matching notes on their instruments. They also use the phone at school to take pictures of the blackboard (or other items) so they don’t need to take as many notes.
I do still own a cell phone. It’s back in the USA and I pay $20 dollars every 3 months for service. My sister checks the voicemail for me. If there is anything important, she will email me. She rarely does.