Two weeks after typhoon Odette knocked out telecommunication links in Puerto Princesa City, Globe Telecom has completed a 99 percent restoration of its connectivity.
Only the barangays of Langogan and Binduyan in Puerto Princesa remain without connectivity.
Globe area sales head Emman Montilla said Thursday that repairs are taking time due to extensive damage to cell sites.
He said their restoration efforts began immediately after Odette slammed Palawan on December 17.
“Kung buong Palawan naman ay restored na, except nga itong ‘yong Puerto Princesa. Kung Palawan, net of Puerto Princesa, 100 percent na kami, sa city 99 percent kasi may remaining barangays pa na wala, [yong] Langogan and Binduyan,” Montilla said.
“Ito (Langogan ang Binduyan area) malamang ang matatagalan dahil ito ang nabali namin na cell site sa bundok ng Langogan. Ito ‘yong cell site covering Langogan and Binduyan kaya medyo matatagalan pa. When it comes to timelines, hindi ko masabi — yumuko talaga, bali talaga,” he explained.
According to Montilla, the most difficult aspect of Globe’s restoration operations is mobilizing its equipment. Due to landslides, the team had to previously walk to transfer the necessary equipment.
He added it was the same issue they experienced on their journey from Roxas to Araceli, which is why communication was just restored last Tuesday.
“I think the main structure [of the cell site], ‘yong pagtatayo mismo, it takes time,” he said.
He further stated that restoration efforts were faster because the affected areas are only Puerto Princesa going to Southern Palawan.
Connectivity in northern Palawan was not totally down after Odette hit Palawan except in some barangays like Tinitian. The signal was maintained from Roxas to Coron, he said.
“South lang ang affected kasi nga ang nangyari, the fiber technology natin naputol. That’s why, lahat ng mga cell site na ang gamit is fiber is nawalan ng signal sa south,” he said. “Since ang fiber cut natin ay sa Roxas, from the fiber cut ng Langogan down to south walang signal na gamit ang fiber except sa VSAT facility namin which is Napsan, Buenavista, and Macarascas ay hindi rin siya nag-down,” Montilla added.
Barangay Napsan connectivity
Montilla further noted that the connectivity in Brgy. Napsan was provided through VSAT, or very small aperture terminal technology, which can only handle 2G and 3G signals because the cell site there has not yet been upgraded to support LTE (long-term evolution).
“Na-relieve kami kasi kailangan ng mga tao na makapag-connect sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay na they are safe. Napaka-imporante na nalaman namin na may signal pala halos lahat. Word of mouth na nga lang—very significant kasi ang dami na kababayan natin na may mga kamag-anak sa ibang lugar na nag-alala kasi hindi tayo ma-contact sa Puerto,” he said.
The Globe cell site in Brgy. Napsan helped service the residents of Puerto Princesa after a signal outage caused by Typhoon Odette. Some residents visited the area to connect with their families and friends in the northern part of Palawan as well as outside the province.
“Despite the power lines and trees being knocked down going to the said barangay, the cell site stood the test of Typhoon Odette,” a statement from Globe said.
Support to Odette-affected residents
Meanwhile, aside from signal restoration, Globe also offered free charging services, free calls, and internet access to the city and northern Palawan villages hit by the typhoon, especially in places where power had not yet been restored.
Montilla said their support to Odette-affected residents is Globe’s way of helping them to connect with their families and relatives, particularly since it’s Christmas.
There were also free sim cards and loads available. Over 2,500 people were helped as a result of the events.
The charging stations were located at Western Command, Sta. Monica Talipapa, Bodegatel loading station in Sta. Monica, Tagburos Aplaya, Brgy. San Rafael, Sitio Villa Teressa in Brgy Lucbuan, and Brgy. Babuyan in Puerto Princesa City; Brgy. Sibaltan and Brgy Poblacion in El Nido: and Brgys. 1 and 4 in Roxas.
“By January 3, ‘yong dalawa, Puerto Princesa uli. It’s either dito sa areas ng northern part ng Puerto na walang signal si Smart pero may signal si Globe. Kasi dito sa Puerto, we have 11 barangays na meron kaming signal pero si Smart wala. At the same time walang kuryente, ‘yon ang pina-prioritize namin na areas for our libreng tawag at charge,” he said, adding that they are also planning to put another one in Port Barton and poblacion area of Roxas.
The company also distributed 500 food packs in Roxas town through Mayor Dennis Sabado and Municipal Administrator Vic Lagera last December 29.
Montilla said the relief operation, with the theme “Tulong-tulong at Sabay Tayong Babangon” is part of Globe’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), which aims to benefit residents of Brgy. Minara.
The telco’s employees also helped in the distribution of food packs with the assistance of the town’s Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) and barangay officials.