North Luzon Smart engineers deployed to Cebu switch on a generator set to power the cell site serving Cordova, Cebu.

PLDT, Smart frontliners devote holidays to reconnecting Odette-hit communities

Super Typhoon Odette may have disconnected communities in Visayas and Mindanao over Christmas and the New Year but PLDT and Smart engineers, displaying value for teamwork and community, have brought many of these communities online over the holidays.

Helping hands from North and South Luzon, Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Davao, and Northern Mindanao have come to aid in restoring communications in Odette-hit areas. Smart engineers Ramon Ratac, 50, and Mark Lumame, 28, from North Luzon are among the second batch of volunteers deployed in Cebu to fast-track restoration operations.

Smart engineers carry outdoor equipment weighing 60 kilograms for a cell site serving Cordova, Cebu.
Smart engineers carry outdoor equipment weighing 60 kilograms for a cell site serving Cordova, Cebu.

“I’ve been doing this job for 21 years, but I admit it’s never easy to leave your family for duty,” said Ratac. I’m thankful that they’re very understanding. I promised we’d re-enact Media Noche when I get back.”

Ramon said his family understood the nature of his work, including the days when he’ll be deployed in storm-battered areas.

North Luzon Smart engineers deployed to Cebu switch on a generator set to power the cell site serving Cordova, Cebu.
North Luzon Smart engineers deployed to Cebu switch on a generator set to power the cell site serving Cordova, Cebu.

As for Lumame, helping restoring Visayas over the holidays also meant enabling him to phone home.

“During New Year’s Eve, I video-called my family in La Union via Smart LTE. Although we’re physically apart from each other, I’m happy that we’re still able to keep in touch,” shared Lumame.

For both Lumame and Ratac, it was the first New Year celebration spent away from their families. The critical repairs helped bring back Smart’s 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE services in Cebu, enabling customers to get their lives back online and keep in touch with loved ones.

Mark Lumame, a Smart Engineer from North Luzon, re-pans equipment attached to the site serving Cordova, Cebu.
Mark Lumame, a Smart Engineer from North Luzon, re-pans equipment attached to the site serving Cordova, Cebu.

Thousands more PLDT and Smart engineers are working to fully restore communications facilities in affected areas. PLDT group has brought back wireless services to over 90% in Visayas cities and municipalities severely damaged by Odette. The group has also reported full restoration in Antique, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Western Samar.

In Mindanao, PLDT and Smart network teams’ continuous efforts have revived 98% of wireless services and 99% of fixed services in most of the region, as they continue to work in two of the hardest-hit areas in the region—Dinagat Islands and Siargao.

In Palawan, 84% of wireless services and 90% of fixed services have been restored.

Despite commercial power interruptions and clearing operations that may affect service delivery, PLDT and Smart aim to fully restore communication services in all Odette-hit areas.

The group also continues to provide Libreng Tawag (free calls) and Charging stations, free public WiFi, and free SIMs to reconnect typhoon survivors with their loved ones. Together with PLDT-Smart Foundation, the group has also distributed relief goods in affected communities.

A Smart engineer fixes network equipment in Bohol.
A Smart engineer fixes network equipment in Bohol.

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