Of the many traits one wishes to see in a hero, selflessness is one quality that blanks it all—to dutifully provide service to others no matter the things set aside for, and regardless of whether acknowledgment is obtained or not.
When the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon was announced, some jobs elevated into an overnight scenario. For frontliners, work from home arrangement is not an option, they have shown up everyday to help the rest of the world navigate this new reality.
At the frontlines of the fight against this current situation are the valiant health workers who risk their lives to treat patients at hospital and clinics. In the streets are police and military personnel who man the checkpoints, while government and NGO workers distribute aid to hard-hit communities.
There is another group that is often unnoticed. During these times, these unsung heroes keep people connected to their work or schools, their family and friends, to the rest of the world.
They are the field personnel of telecommunications firms. They are the tower riggers and engineers who continue to monitor and repair cell towers, install or fix broadband links to ensure continuous connectivity.
The work from home option does not work for them. They have to be at the field.
''Our priority is to maintain the uninterrupted signal and fast connection especially now that most employees are working from home. Whenever there are concerns regarding slow connectivity and outages, we immediately respond to them,'' said Alberto Ambil, network field services engineer for PLDT wireless arm, Smart Communications Inc.
''The alarming reports serve as reminders that we must stay healthy so that we can properly perform our daily tasks. We are grateful that the company supports us by providing us vitamins, protective gear and hazard pay,'' Kevin Ng, another engineer, said.
The risks are greater for tower rigger Ramel Miñoza, whose job involves climbing high towers to install equipment, rain or shine.
''We try not to think about the risks, we have a job to do… Next to our families, we put our subscribers first,'' he said.
Mindful of these risks, the network teams of PLDT and Smart carefully plan and control the movements of these frontliners. Outdoor activities are being focused on key facilities while direct contact with customers and other people is being limited. The field personnel are also provided personal protective gear.
Always reminded to put their safety above anything else, these telco engineers are part of virtual meetings where they are constantly urged to observe health and safety guidelines so they can cater to the needs of customers.
Amid the challenges, PLDT and Smart continue to provide communication services that enable people to pursue their lives and livelihood while protecting their health and safety. Both companies have increased their capacity to handle the increased traffic in data as well as in calls and SMS.
To help customers and the public keep connected, PLDT has provided a speed boost to its Fibr broadband customers, while Smart has increased the data packages of its postpaid and prepaid subscribers.
PLDT and Smart have also provided access to select government sites, such as the official websites of the Department of Health, Philippine Information Agency, and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; calls to key government agency hotlines such as 1555; free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, e-load discounts on the Smart Online Store, and bill payment extension for all PLDT, Smart and Sun postpaid subscribers.
Most employees are still able to do presentations via video calling apps because these frontliners chose to 'time-in' for work today. Students are not left behind in schools because they are still able to attend virtual lectures. Real time updates and ordering necessities online are available, which help turn these uncertain times to a more bearable situation.
To be able to provide these services, the network relies on selfless men and women who are not afraid to recognize that the things truly worth doing are the things done for others.
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