In fact, it was the only idea because none of the country’s other internet providers would venture into our sparsely populated barangay where, frankly, they were unlikely to get rich.
So we settled for Globe at Home Wi-Fi which, for a while, provided internet service that usually worked, mostly at speeds almost adequate for our needs. Like an awful marriage, we settled in for the long haul, convincing ourselves that the relationship would eventually work.
Then things changed.
Faced with a school system showing no signs of reopening after a long slumber aimed at escaping evil microbes with bad intentions, we returned to the US for a bit to afford our 11-year-old son the whiff of an almost-forgotten normalcy. But just as the great pandemic receded, a great typhoon blew the roof off our house. Leaving, I might add, its remaining occupants—plus thousands of other Filipinos—devoid of electricity for a span lasting nearly five months. Also gone with the wind was almost everything we owned, including modems, computers, I-pads, and telephones.
That’s when we made our first attempt to ask Globe for a divorce, or at least a temporary legal separation. Still in California, I spent hours on the company’s website searching for a means of escape. Finding none, I then lobbed a forlorn email message into its cyberspace, begging to be shown the door. And when that didn’t work, we enlisted the services of my wife’s sister—still staying at the house with no signal—to visit Globe’s office in person.
“Sorry,” she told us the next day, or words to that effect, “they say you have to go there yourself.” And so, assuming—naively it turns out—that accommodations would be made for victims of Typhoon Odette, we tabled the issue pending our eventual return.
So you can imagine my surprise when, eight months later, we were met with determined indifference. “Sure you can disconnect,” the Globe guy said, “but you have to put it in writing after settling your bill.”
By that he meant dish out cash for the two months without internet for which we were in arrears, besides the six months without internet for which we had already paid. Clearly, all other exits were blocked. So we reluctantly made good on the tab while my wife, whose name the account bears, drafted and signed a letter requesting immediate dissolution. Then she flew back to California for a three-month work assignment to help pay for the costly repairs.
Which is why I was shocked a few weeks later to receive yet another bill for the daunting internet connection that refused to admit it was dead. This time, I marched straight down to the office myself. “Don’t you have the letter my wife signed?” I asked incredulously. “What happened? Did you accidentally lose it?”
The Globe guy smiled beneficently, waiting for me to calm down. “No sir,” he said finally, still sporting that annoying grin. “We have your wife’s letter but couldn’t reach her to confirm.”
By now, I was seeing red.
“Waitaminute,” I said, “you’re telling me we’re still getting bills because my wife didn’t answer her phone?”
“We tried calling twice,” he offered helpfully.
“Look,” I said, trying hard to maintain my composure, “she is abroad and has received no phone calls or messages. You have her written cancellation request, which she signed right here in your presence. I’m her husband and, speaking on her behalf, would like you to honor that request.”
“Oh, so sorry, sir,” the young man said pleasantly, “we are just a franchise without that authority.”
And so I gave up.
Several weeks have now passed, and we’ve met someone new; a company called PLDT which, so far, has treated us well. And what of our ex, the eternally possessive Globe at Home? Like spurned spouses everywhere, it continues the harassment, specifically in monthly statements chronicling our increasing imbalance. Fortunately, we have learned to ignore them. For we have detached emotionally and are finally able to move on. Our fondest hope is that one day Globe will let go too.
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David Haldane’s latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle and Other Ebullient Essays on Becoming Filipino,” is due out in January. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning journalist, author, and radio broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines, where this column appears weekly in the Mindanao Gold Star Daily.