Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dark Thoughts in the Dark in Mindanao

I’ve been derailed. Around a month ago, we had two weeks of spotty internet connection, supposedly due to damage to undersea internet cables. The thought of the little mermaid cutting lengths of cable for her collection came to mind. Just as an onset of conscience convinced her to return the stolen cables, our city descended into the wholly warm, occasionally dark realm of rotational blackouts --- 3 to 7.5 hours a day. The lady at the power company's customer care table remarked at our good fortune considering that other places in Mindanao endure 12-hour blackouts. I'd give two AA batteries to anyone who can guess the expression on my face when she said that.

animal eyes

I tried to fit my usual long online work hours and childcare into insane schedules to work around the blackouts. There was a point though when I began to feel myself progressively transforming into one giant, tense, purple nerve, ready to snap at the slightest poke.

Naturally, I’ve had to control myself. To vent off some steam, I’d march to the closet and scream. I’ve since sent the bogeyman running to his mother crying, “Mom there’s a nerve in my closet.”

Staying in control is important because I get the impression that complaining isn’t fashionable here. The last time I complained was when our garbage collectors disappeared into some void, leaving us close to cultivating the first maggot farm in the city due to uncollected trash. I was told I shouldn’t have filed a complaint and that I should just wait patiently for whenever authorities choose to take action.

Wait a doggone minute. Am I not a citizen of a country with one of the highest tax rates in Asia? If I can’t enjoy reliable basic services in spite of the taxes I pay, can I at least be entitled to the right to send maggots to government officials for Christmas?

We Filipinos are famous for our ability to cheerfully and ingeniously survive the worst kinds of adversity, but there is a danger to this skill. We run the risk of always accepting that we are slaves to circumstances, whatever they may be, and that there is nothing we can do.

Just because we are a happy people and we can live through the worst times, it doesn’t mean our default response should be to accept every piece of shit thrown at us. Can we not demand for accountability too? I suggest we nominate members to the Government Association of Greedy Officials (GAGO for short) and send them on prolonged field trips to Mindanao during rotational brownouts.

Of course it’s not just GAGO members that we should be taking to task. We are after all, responsible for putting them where they are. Does that make us eligible for membership to the TANGA club?

Bonus Rant: If you want to understand how electricity is generated and distributed in the Philippines, why it’s so expensive and why we consumers sit in the dark waiting for the light long after God gave humankind the intelligence to generate it, watch this video from Rappler.


  1. It's really difficult to understand why electricity is so expensive here. Probably we need more solar panels and make use of those to conserve electrical power.

  2. Nahhh, I don't care anymore for this matter, because those people who managed this thing were not usually into helping our countrymen. Better to stay in the city proper.

  3. Having such expensive electricity is really harmful for the people.

  4. I'm all with accountability and I hope that the greedy and opportunistic people get their due.

  5. Honestly, I do not know how our problems with expensive electricity and uncollected garbage will be solved. We in our family try every which way to conserve energy and minimize our trash but still we really need our government to bring this is order on a national level.

  6. Utilities such as water and electricity are thins that the government should look into. It should be state-owned and not controlled by monopoly.

  7. I really don't get it why we have to suffer these black outs when we are paying really high for electricity.

  8. I hate the power system here in the Philippines. Too expensive! Because of that, my family save and do our best to save electricity.

  9. 1/4 of my income goes in paying electric bills imbes na sana sa ibang bagay pa pwede magamit.

  10. i wish they can find ways to tap into natural energies available in our country to make electricity affordable + accessible to all. i cannot imagine going for a long time without electricity, kawawa mga kids :(

  11. inaabot 5k monthly electricity bill ko

  12. This is a very good overview of the legal structure around the electricity system in the Philippines, but it is not an answer to the question why the rates are the highest in Asia (which they aren't by the way, Japan's rates are higher).

    Cath Brookes
    The Best Brick Flooring


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