I apologize to my readers. While I haven’t posted on a daily basis for years, I have been wanting to opine about our local utility company, Guimelco. “28-Hour Brownout Grips Guimaras” is the latest installment of our ongoing battle with the lack of adequate infrastructure on the island province we call home.
“You Shouldn’t Expect Reliable Service”
While officials of Guimelco have told some of my expat friends that “this is the Philippines and you shouldn’t expect reliable service,” I beg to differ. While we only experienced 10 power outages this past July, our pocket of “paradise” endured an outage that began at 5:10 am on Saturday, July 29th and ended Sunday morning, July 30th, at 9:45 am.
That’s over 28 hours without any electrical service. Our two rechargeable fans ran out of juice before nightfall on the 29th. I woke up multiple times during the evening due to the ever-present heat and humidity challenges of living in the Philippines.
Now the power outage was scheduled. However, it was only to last from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday. Finally, at 7:30 pm, still without electricity, I called the Guimelco Hotline. I was advised that we should be “energized by 8:00 pm” that same evening.
The Energizer Bunny Misses Us
At 8:40 pm, our lights went back on. A cheer rang out throughout our home in the Philippines. The refrigerator was plugged back in and the TV turned out.
Our joy was short-lived. We lost our power a mere five minutes later.
I immediately called the Guimelco Hotline again. No answer. The phones had evidently been shut off as I received “the subscriber you are trying to reach is not available” message. I was pissed.
I Visit Guimelco
Sunday morning at 4:00 am I woke up. My asawa was already awake getting ready for the 6:00 am Mass at the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras. As my spouse navigated our Ford Ranger down the road on the way to church, I noticed the surrounding areas all had their outside lights on.
“Why did everyone else have power?” I wondered aloud and instructed my wife to stop at the Guimelco main office which was on the way to church. As I approached the main building around 5:25 am, I noticed a group of workers loading equipment into their utility truck.
“Why don’t we have power yet?” I asked.
The workers pointed to a man walking towards the office.
Guimelco Cannot Operate at Night
I approached the Guimelco employee coming towards me and asked him why we didn’t have power in our area yet; other sections of Guimaras evidently had their electricity turned on.
“There is a problem in your area, sir,” came the reply. “We are trying to isolated the problem but our crews could not work last night. We have to wait until this morning when we have light.”
“Do you have any idea when our power will be restored?” I inquired.
“No, sir, I’m sorry” came the answer.
Power Finally Restored
Remembering that we were going to church, I managed to hold my tongue and not utter any profanities. My mood was foul, however, throughout the Mass. I imagine that Jesus wouldn’t want a grumpy parishioner in Church but I stubbornly maintained my grouchy demeanor throughout the Mass.
We arrived home, still without any electricity.
I’ve been married to my loving Filipina wife for over 17 years now; she’s used to the grumpiness.
After a few hours, however, our power was finally restored although Guimelco did hit us with two more power outages later in the day. We later discovered that most of Guimaras had their power turned back on the evening before. Whether God is trying to teach me patience or not, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m getting, it, however, not as long as Gumelco hits us with 28-hour brownouts.