Monday, November 26, 2012

The Ubiquity of Cell Phones

Indeed, especially in the Philippines the most democratic user appliance/tool is the cell phone because rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural folks almost all have cell phones.  Of course, some more classy and more expensive than others.  But most have them to use as communication tool, music player, and even some game-playing.


But is this the default tool to access the Internet for those unable to acquire a PC, tablet, laptop, netbook, etc.?  Save for a number of select groups of tech-savvy citizens the Internet is still unreachable for many families, unless they go to an Internet café site and pay the reasonable fee of 15-20 pesos per hour.


Still this shortcoming does not preclude certain parties from being able to communicate with large numbers of those still in the dark with regard to the Web.


And this was displayed sterlingly during the aftermath of Sendong.


One family in Balulang literally lost everything including their house during Sendong and a son-in-law was and is an employee of mine.  Fortunately, he decided to keep his family in our building where he stayed rather than make a late-night visit to his in-laws in Balulang. 


In the aftermath we all pitched in to assist the victimized family members.  But our meager assistance paled in comparison with the assorted assistance received from government and other institutions – from City Hall, to Red Cross, to the government social welfare departments. This family now has recovered quite modestly, thanks to a private endowment and the Red Cross.


All these good things  in spite of practically an entire city in gaping need of assistance with basic necessities – from water to light, to food and blankets, etc.


But what brought wonder to me was how these huge masses of people could be gathered together with great ease and convenience.  So I had to ask the surviving mother of that stricken family how it was done.  And the reply was:


“It was easy, Sir.  All our phone numbers were collected by SWS, City Hall, etc.  And we were told that when our time and schedule came, we would each receive a text message with the time and the location where to receive our aid.  So we wasted no unnecessary time going to the designated place and everybody received their share promptly without extra hassle.”


Now project to the future, say during the next election cycle in 2013.  Would these same parties you think be receiving text messages on what to do during Election Day and where maybe they can get their “provisions”?  Who knows?


Indeed, the wonders of even simple technology like a cell phone in communicating with large masses of people are staggering and limitless.
You think maybe this access would be used as a potent political tool, come next election in 2013?