Friday, October 06, 2006

Monopoly of the Rich

Even before tropical storm Milenyo hit Manila, my house and seven others were plunged into darkness, that was Wednesday night. A secondary cable of Meralco snapped which caused us to lose power. Metro Manila, fell prey to te fury of the storm early Thursday morning. With more wind than rain, Metro Manila's structures were no match to the unrelenting Milenyo.

I had reported the outage in my area a few minutes after it occurred and was told that I would serviced immediately. A few hours turned into eight days of darkness. I was told by Meralco that I was in the priority list and complaints will be serviced as they come in. A day after, power was restored in my street except for my place and seven other houses. When the power came back, an apartment row on my street broke into flames. The occupants forgot to turn off their breakers. I had to rush to Camp Karingal to get help. Phone lines were dead, celphones were unreliable and the PNP's radios were the only means to get word out. After what seemed like hours, help came and the fire was extiguished. I have been following up my request every hour. I went to Meralco's call center in Ortigas to follow-up my complaint personally. As I had expected, I was given the runaround and went home frustrated.

My nights were spent fanning my kids to sleep and make sure no mosquitos got to them. Being a father has added obligations you know. My wife's stock of poultry and meat all rotted. My baker was unable to bake pandesal but was able to prepare other kinds of bread. I still have to make an accounting of how much business we lost. But still, I can be thankful that what I lost was incomparable to what most impoverished families had lost during the storm. While the rich were being served with haste, ordinary folks like me had to wait in line.

Meralco's service sucks. I hope the government does something about this monopoly. With the high cost they charge us, good service should be given in return. I saw dozens of PLDT service personnel checking/repairing their lines, while Meralco's were quietly tucked in posh subdivisions in Makati and Pasig. My brother who lives in Las Pinas had to fetch Meralco's trucks to avert a catastrophe when three of their posts almost fell on some houses in their subdivision.

It pays to be rich in the Philippines. This mirrors the disparity in our society. To be poor will the least of anybody's concern. You will always be at the end of the line while the rich will always be at the head of the pack. I saw residents of Forbes and Dasmarinas vilage complain about how they couldn't charge their celphones while the rest of Manila's poor had to wait for whatever service will be rendered to them. A society of indifference still survives in the Philippines.

"Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth", a thought that the rich should always bear in mind.

*After eight days, Meralco had finally restored power in my area. My neighbors and I had to shell out P1,500 and feed the linemen just to be served. We were not in their job schedule for the day. We had to practically beg and bribe them to connect that short piece of cable.