Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Keeping in touch with loved ones in the Philippines: Skype, Netbooks, Mobile Phones and Snail Mail

Coming back to Australia and leaving my pregnant Fiancée on her own was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, though no doubt the time apart has been harder on my partner than on me (as I’ve not been growing another human being inside of me).

While I’d spend as much time in the Philippines as possible, work and family commitments back in Australia meant that I was going to have to return home.  Prior to my last trip over I’d known that it was likely that I’d be returning to Australia before my Fiancée’s visa was approved, but now it also looked like she’d be having the baby in Manila without me there…it was agonising.
Previously we’d been keeping in touch with mobile phones and occasionally email. While this worked well (relatively) the cost of calling to the Philippines each day for any meaningful length of time was starting to mount up…even using an economical carrier like “Crazy John’s” (17 cents a minute). And to be honest there’s no substitute for being able to see someone while talking with them.
So, I bought an inexpensive Netbook in Australia and took it over with me to give to my Fiancée…that meant she’d be able to use skype and email from home rather than having to head down to the local internet café…a trip that I knew would become more difficult as her pregnancy progressed.
Once on the ground in Manila I also picked up a prepaid Globe tattoo to use with the netbook. My partner now had a computer with wireless internet connection on which I’d already installed Skype. The last thing to do was replace her phone with a dual SIM unit so that she could run both Globe and SMART connections to mitigate cell coverage issues.
The time in Manila (though extensive) flew past, and there was always the constant shadow of my planned return to Australia hanging over us. Eventually the day came and with tears all round we headed off to the airport and I flew back home. Almost as soon as I landed we started using our new Skype connection…..it was (and is) awesome. Being able to see each other while talking adds a huge amount of depth to our conversations and the fact that it’s “free” means we’re able to spend significantly longer talking…
We still use cell phones to keep in touch through the day (mostly just texts now) and email is invaluable for sending links related to visa applications etc…but as the our visa application date approaches we’re making more and more use of good old snail mail to send physical documents back and forth. I’d actually forgotten the excitement as you rush to the letter box to see if any mail has been delivered….it’s much more satisfying than clicking “send/receive” .
So to make sense of this ramble….in my experience (your’s may vary) I’ve found that cell phones are great for a few quick words or to exchange texts, but skype (or similar) is far superior for a meaningful exchange. It works surprising well, even on the Globe wireless connection.
Email is great for sending lots of detail, links etc for reference/review and good old snail mail remains the one and only way to get original documents (with signatures etc) from one place to another.
Anyway…I have to go. It’s about 11pm here….which means it’s 9pm in Manila…time to talk with my Fiancée and see my new born son.
Next, having a baby in the Philippines.
Logitech USB Headset H530 with Premium Laser-Tuned Audio (981-000195)

Toshiba NB505-N508BL 10.1-Inch Netbook (Blue)

Stumble it !

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, we are not that lucky. It was great when John was in Qatar, but we are back to only the phone. I use GoTalk here as I found that by far the cheapest - you might want to check it out, I think you will find it a lot cheper than what you are using!