Paradise lost, broadband heaven

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By Richard Parcia To those who have read this blog before, I have not hidden my displeasure on the quality of the broadband service in the country. I have never encountered a day in which nobody among my Facebook friends complains how crappy the services are. Thus, it is surprising that my experience in a recent trip made me reconsider my generalized statements. In a span of three days, I was able to experience something that is totally detached from the broadband realities of Metro Manila. Last week, I visited the Boracay. Permit me to deviate a little bit from my usual technology-flavored pieces because I strongly believe that some words must be said about our country?s tourism poster child. Boracay is a mess. Its current state is of a stark contrast from the postcards and images that we see online. It is a reminder how bad we really are when in comes to development work. We screwed our cities. We also screwed our tourist attraction, all in the name of commercialism and capital interests. The resort island can be compared to an old courtesan, whose lines in her face gives clue to a much more fantastical time. Times when she was the center of attraction and all men bow down to her. Her current disposition is of a wretched being that if it weren?t for the jewels attached to her body, and the desperate attempt of cosmetics to hide her gross situation, she could have been discarded unceremoniously. If she were royalty ,and some insists that she is, death will be so kind. The island no longer represents a tropical paradise. The getaway is a patch of concrete jungle that if it weren?t for dirt and sand, one will think there was a disturbance in the time and space continuum which caused the matrix to transport you back at middle of Binondo, Tondo, or Edsa. Boracay is filled with litter, both the trash and the human kind. The little roads, designed for walking, are teeming with vehicles of different sizes. Motorcycles and tricycles are zigzagging like crazy which will be a good test of theories in neural networks if it weren?t for the fact they are disasters waiting to happen. And just like any other metropolis in our country, poverty can also be seen everywhere. This got me thinking ? a not so good thing when you are on vacation ? of where does the wealth generated by the commercial enterprise go. I don?t think it reaches the hands of those who are endemic to the area. I found it ironic that one of their local newspapers have reported, on the front page, that their governor is protesting the report of the DSWD that his province is one of the poverty stricken areas of the country. Apparently, he found the report unbelievable. Based on what I had observed from the trip that started from Kalibo towards Boracay, the DSWD report is somewhat correct. On the island, I bumped into a couple of beggars in front of one of the watering holes of the beach area. I always believed that the homeless and the beggars are part of the underbelly of any city. However, the island is part of a province which is agriculturally driven by default thus food shortages are supposedly unknown. I don?t buy the arguments of some that most beggars are what they are because they are lazy. Poverty has a way of stripping anybody?s dignity. For a person to beg, it will take total abandonment of what makes a human being a person. Boracay has become a concrete jungle with a beautiful shoreline. Its waters are still alluring and the sand is as fine as it was before. Nevertheless, the place is filled with reminders that you are no longer in paradise. It is going the way of ghastly Puerto Galera. It has become a city that has its own non-enticing underground ? the same one that made you leave the metropolis in the first place. The tragic part of it all is that it will take a Herculean effort to make it the way it was before. The local government that covers the area can follow the tact of some countries who were plagued with the same problem. Unfortunately, most of these efforts often require an extended off-limits policy that can last for a year or two. The malevolent spirit that made Boracay a whole mess it is now will surely balked at the very idea of closing it temporarily for a badly needed re-imagining of the place. I am a pessimist when it comes to LGU leaders having visions and strategic minds, particularly when it comes to urban or even rural development. That makes Boracay 2.0 a hopeless proposition. She is definitely a paradise lost. Anyway, not everything about my trip was bad. Although I painted Boracay now as a basket case just like any of our urban centers, I was elated to discover something there that is totally nonexistent in Metro Manila. Boracay is a wireless broadband heaven. Yes, you read it correctly. Boracay broadband is the only place I know in the Philippines that is almost near the mobile broadband experience I had in the United States. I brought my Globe cellphone with me and I was pleasantly surprised in terms of performance. Proof? I was streaming videos and watching trailers. I was able to watch TV using my smartphone and it was seamless. No buffering whatsoever. The experience was way even better than my home DSL connection. I know, that this will sound as if I was paid by Globe to do PR. However, a fellow board director of an IT association that I belong is from Globe and he knows how acerbic I am with my opinions with regard to their service, which, by the way, still sucks, big time, in Metro Manila and in the provinces that surrounds it. In fact, when I approached him to talk about what I had experienced in Boracay, he was ready to run away. I believe credit is due and I congratulate Globe for doing a good job there. I did not bring my Smart and Sun devices therefore I won?t be able to give an opinion of their service there. I just wish that Globe can do the same in Metro Manila. I was conscious that probably one of the reasons why the service is good there is that the province and the island is so poverty stricken that there is hardly any congestion that will make the experience a lot less satisfactory. I had found it a pleasant distraction to my otherwise unpleasant opinion of the place. I went there for paradise but I got Internet pleasure instead.]]>

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