By RUDY D. LIPORADA
I lost it. I mean my Wi-Fi connection. I lost it as soon as we reached the open sea on a boat from Batangas bound for Odiongan in Romblon. We anchored off the port at around 5:00 p.m. An hour later, right after a video message chat with a friend, I lost it. My handheld Globe Wi-Fi, just loaded with Php250.00, could no longer be reached by its mother transmitter.
Not bringing anything to read, without the proper lighting to read anyway, and with the boat not exactly a gentle hammock, I was also starting to lose it. I mean my connection with the cyber world. It was already dark outside but it was too early to sleep. I decided to go outside of the cabin and strolled by the deck. The sun had already sat in the horizon. One can hear the splashing of the sea but too dark to see the gentlest waves. Back at the cabin, my wife, Au; her sister, Angie; and nephew, Reginald, were already sound asleep, oblivious to my losing it. I mean my sanity without any means to do anything else but stare at nothing in the dimly lit cabin.
I decided to write my column for the Asian Journal – San Diego, well advance of my deadline. I did not need Wifi just to do Word. Thank goodness!
Somehow, after writing, I felt drowsy, and, with the rocking of the boat, I managed to sleep with the thought that, in Romblon, I will be connected. I mean with a Wi-Fi.
How wrong I was. Well, partially right. Very partially.
We were roused from our sleep with the blaring of the boat’s horn. It was 2:30 a.m. We were on the boat for close to 10 hours. Without Wi-Fi. Before debarking, I whipped out my cell phone and handheld Wi-Fi thinking that we are on shore now. There must be Wi-Fi.
Even en route to the town of San Agustin on a van rented by my brother-in-law, Kuya Elmo, to pick us up from the port to their barrio, Hinugusan, I tried several times to connect with my hand held Wifi. Nope! I could not connect. I then satisfied myself with the sight of the blinking sea we were skirting under the dawn’s moonlight. Also, with the thought that, maybe, later in the daylight, we could already connect at the barrio.
Nonetheless, after a two-hour van trip, tired, I slumped to sleep.
I was awakened around five hours later hearing my sister-in-law grumbling that she could not video call her son and grandson back in Texas because…yes…because she could not connect. I got up, starting to panic, thinking that, among my other concerns, I might not be able to send my column for the Asian Journal for the week.
The nephew of my sister-in-law came to the rescue…or so we thought. He said that the signal during the day is weak. That is because so many are trying to connect with the system. However, he advised, that we should go to the beach front just across the street from Kuya Elmo’s house starting from dusk. By then office people and others would not be using their gadgets anymore and the air for tech communication will be freer.
That thought was acceptable.
So, we just indulged ourselves with the offerings of my wife’s in-laws. Buko, lots of them, with us almost drowning with their juices paraded in front of us. There was fresh fish, bananas transformed to turon, and varied camote and other delicacies that made us forget the cyber world. For a while.
As dusk approached, we were reminding each other that we had to go to the beach front, so we could connect back home, I could send my column, do our Facebook fix. We became more excited, informed that one of Kuya Elmo’s relatives by the beach has internet connection as one of the sons is a principal at a school and a daughter is a teacher.
We could not hurry enough to don our shorts and swim suits (in case we decide to take a dip in the waters), so we could go to the beach front. Swimming was secondary of course. Internet high was paramount. So, off we went to the beachfront in our slippers.
“Wala raw pong load yung internet nila,” said the principal’s and teacher’s mom after our niceties. It turns out that both do their internet stuff at school so there was really no need to ‘load’ their internet at home.
No worries, we will just proceed to the beach front.
There, my handheld Wifi started blinking, promising connection. However, though it connected, the signal was very weak. Weak enough that I could not receive or send anything. Meaning, that was tantamount to not having any signal at all.
“Don’t worry, we could go to the town proper tomorrow,” said another relative of Kuya Elmo. “There for sure, by the munisipyo, we will have signal.” Somehow I did not believe anymore. Nonetheless, thank goodness that my text messaging was still working as contracted with AT&T. I texted the publisher of Asian Journal – San Diego that I will try to send my column late the following day and if I could not connect, then I will just pass for the week. It felt like a miracle that the publisher responded ‘ok’.
So, the night passed without being with the cyberworld again. Nonetheless, we spent the time for more delicacies while reminiscing, verbally mixed with guffaws on funny episodes and heartfelt sighs on sadder stories about the clan and associates. Looking back, it was really a night where verbal stories were more colorful than tapping on keys with blinks and emojis on a screen
But still. We want to be connected. Tomorrow it is.
After a 30-minute bumpy ride the next morning on a thunder roaring tri-cycle that squeezed six of us, we arrived at the munisipyo of San Agustin. After a courtesy call to the mayor and a konsehal, and after asking a staff if we could have access to their Wifi, she said, “Ay, sir, we are having problems with our Smart connection for a few days.”
Oh! Well, how not smart are we to have not figured that out for a few days now.
Nonetheless, in one department, a lady offered her handheld Wifi. “Try mo lang, sir.”
Without being enthusiastic about it and ready for another frustration, I placed her gadget beside my laptop. My setting started blinking like it was connecting. It asked me passwords. She gave them to me. After a few blinks, my setting said I was connected. Oy! I hurried to my email, so I could attach my article for sending to the Asian Journal – San Diego publisher.
Before I could send again, however, to my chagrin, I was disconnected.
“Wait ka lang, sir,” the lady said.
Sounding pessimistic, I said, “Ok!”
Then, the connected message blinked in again. I hurriedly typed the email address of the publisher and attached my column. I clicked on send. The message saying ‘sending’ stared at me for what I felt like to be forever. Then, the message ‘sent’ flashed on my screen. I was astounded. It seemed like a miracle that I was able to connect with someone in a far-away land.
I really didn’t mind anymore that the disconnected message flashed again. It didn’t bother me anymore that my sister-in-law was still complaining that she could not still connect. With a single email out, I had my cyber fix.
We still tried the following days to connect but to no avail. We just then spent our time with more stories, colorful with the sound bites of ringing laughter, live smiles showing gleaming teeth, crooked or not, really felt emotions punctuated with rolling eyes and actual grimaces to project real feelings – beyond emojis. All amidst fresh food, book drinks, and humming winds swirling among rustling branches of trees.
We finished the week accepting that Wifi is beyond us. Nonetheless, our cellphones mercifully still allowed us take pictures for us to have memories of our stay in Romblon to be forever saved in the hard drives of our hearts.
We were then off to Caliraya after sailing back to Batangas. Somehow we got used to not having been connected to the cyberspace and did not mind anymore.
Nonetheless, the Wi-Fi episode at Lumban, Caliraya for a week is for another story. # nordis.net