There’s probably room enough for only 10 people on this islet of six trees (or shrubs) and a single hut.
Yet on this islet near Olango Island and for several kilometers near it, you can still connect to telecoms networks and send and receive text messages, make calls, and browse the mobile Internet. It boggles my mind when I thought I’d “get away from it all” during a trip to several islets yesterday that I was never out of range of the telecoms network.
Up until two years back, I still heard of stories and jokes on how people on several areas of Cebu had to go to a certain spot or climb trees just to send and receive text messages. I seem to remember being told of connection problems in Olango.
Yesterday, my family went island-hopping in the Olango area, an island four kilometers off Mactan island. Lapu-Lapu City beaches are great but swimming in its waters is nothing compared to the experience of dipping into the pristine waters of remote islets and shallows that stretch for a kilometer.
I took my phone with me because it also serves as my blogging camera. Before boarding the boat, I did a final check of messages because I was certain I’d be off the telecoms grid in the next few hours.
After swimming for more than two hours, our group was on our way to the floating restaurants of Olango Island when we passed a curious islet with one small hut. The boat’s guide pointed it out to us and said it was the biggest of the three islets named Tres Rosas (three roses). On one point, the name of the islets makes sense: I got stung by a sea urchin half a kilometer off it.
Tres Rosas is “owned” (or managed) by Cebu White Sands beach resort. It’s exclusive to its guests but I doubt whether the resort would have known had we decided to dock and take our lunch on it. It is that remote.
When we passed the islet, we took photos of it and as I closed the camera cover of my phone, I glanced at the screen and found that the Smart Communications (my telecoms provider) signal was still strong. On my Sony Ericsson K750i, the signal was four bars. For a non-telecoms guy, this was disconcerting. How can the signal possibly cover this part of the seas?
In no time, I launched my GMail for mobile application to check my e-mails. It loaded quickly and I was informed that 1.) this blog had a short downtime, and 2.) I sold another text link.
I also read Jhay Rocas‘ emailed question on using sets in Zooomr. I wrote him a quick reply, sent the mail, and then held tight as the boat started bucking under big waves. After we ate at a “floating” restaurant, we proceeded to Sta. Rosa, effectively going around Olango Island. I then checked GMail again and read Jhay’s reply to my message.
The entire time yesterday I was connected to Smart’s telecoms grid. My wife’s phone, which is with Globe, was also connected to its network but I do not know whether it was connected the entire time of our trip.
In these days of always-on connection anywhere, can we ever get away from it all?
I can just picture myself on Tres Rosas, blogging with a laptop connected to the Internet via PLDT WeRoam. A few steps away, a huge chunk of tuna lies on a grill, beside it a smaller piece of pork belly.
How does one get to own an islet?
Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu. He has written and edited for such publications as The Freeman, The Independent Post, Today, Sun.Star Cebu, Cebu Daily News, Philstar Life, and Rappler.
He is also a mobile app and web developer and co-founded InnoPub Media with his wife Marlen.
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