I Have Finally Conquered Palimbang!Category: Personal
Working for GEM’s CLIC (Computer Literacy and Internet Connection) component has allowed me to travel to places in Mindanao I wouldn’t have the chance to if I wasn’t employed under the program.
I work in the field as a Technical Specialist for the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat. Since 2004, I have managed to visit all the municipalities under them except Buldon in Maguindanao and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat. I call them my last frontiers. Last August 2008, I was able to visit Buldon to look for possible recipient schools for our program. Since then, I have gone to the place at least five times already. On the other hand, I haven’t had the chance to go to Palimbang because I yielded the place to my companion Dandy who is in charge of South Cotabato and Sarangani. It was because even if the municipality is part of Sultan Kudarat, its geographical location was nearer to Sarangani (and to Dandy); sort of being orphaned from the rest of its siblings.
Then last summer, our monitoring group visited our three recipient schools in Palimbang and she reported that their internet connections were already offline. Wanting to go to the place, I decided that I’ll be the one to go and fix it. I coordinated with our internet service provider (ISP) and we scheduled the visit for June 10-11. With me was Romeo as my pilot and Joel as the ISP’s engineer.
On our first day, we jumped off from Tacurong City at 7:00 AM. We arrived at Gen. Santos City at around 8:00 AM. We were told that Poblacion, Palimbang is around 165 kms. from the city. We passed-by the coastal municipalities of Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum. The road is concrete.
It is after Maitum that the road is not paved anymore…
… and we see more coastal communities.
I was also becoming a little bit anxious since the place is known to be a bastion of some armed rebels who fought with the government forces sometime early this century. Of course I was told that it’s safe to go there this time of the year but I can’t help becoming uneasy. It also did not help that as we go deeper into the heart of the place, we see less houses and even passed-by some MILF camps and there was no signal in our mobile phones. The silence inside our Toyota Revo was deafening.
At around 11:30AM, we arrived at Palimbang National High School at Brgy. Poblacion, Palimbang. It was the farthest school out of the three we are scheduled to visit so we went to it first. We were greeted by the teachers. They even commended our courage because according to them, first-timers would not come to their place unless they were accompanied. Well, the school principal was supposed to come with us but could not do so because his kid was admitted to the hospital.
After lunch, we went to work. The VSAT for their internet connection was located in front of the faculty room.
Joel checked the VSAT connection while I looked on.
I checked the signal strength while Joel panned the dish. Noticed the armed men with M-16 rifles? Those are the school’s security guards.
We left the school at 2:30 PM after successfully restoring their internet connection.
The next day, we arrived at around 10:00 AM at Milbuk National High School at Brgy. Milbuk, Palimbang. It was located around 15 kms. before Brgy. Poblacion. We found out that two Gemelina trees were blocking the VSAT’s line of sight. We had no option but to cut the trees since we can’t transfer the dish anymore as its metal base was already cemented to the ground. Fortunately, the school obliged.
We left the school at 2:00 PM after successfully restoring their internet connection. We arrived a few minutes later at Mamansual Abdul National High School located at Brgy. Kraan, Palimbang. Unfortunately, the school’s electricity was cut-off due to unpaid bills. The school administrators talked with the electric company though and managed to persuade them into temporarily restoring the current using the argument that we came all the way from Manila just to repair their internet connection. But by then, it was already late in the afternoon.
School was made online at around 7:00 PM. We left 30 minutes later after making sure that internet sharing is enabled for all units.
We arrived at 10:00 PM at Gen. Santos City and had a brief stopover at Pioneer Avenue for some balut to restore some lost energy.
After arriving at Sydney Hotel, I immediately jumped to my bed due to exhaustion. I was very tired but went to bed smiling.
I have conquered Palimbang…
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