With just one click, you can have a “face to face” conversation with someone on the other side of the world—or right across the street from you. Our ability to make and maintain connections with friends and loved ones has been revolutionized by technology. Not too long ago, for an average Filipino family, communicating with a loved one working or studying abroad was a luxury. International calls were expensive, and one had to buy phone cards and call at a specific time in the day, otherwise the connection would be terrible. 

In the mid- to late 90’s, there was no affordable DSL or fibr connections yet. The connection speeds were so slow that that it made snail mail seem like a better option (and it was at times!). Letters would take weeks, if not months, to reach their intended recipient. International calls were expensive, and the phone card promos made available by some companies at that time were inconsistent and frustrating. If you had a friend or loved one who was moving away for work or furthering their education, then to maintain a connection with them was difficult. 

Fast forward to the 2000s—not only has fast and reliable internet been made affordable, but technology has advanced to the point where you can not only hear, but also see your loved ones through various messaging apps on the phone and the laptop. There is no need to avail of special call cards, and no additional bills to pay apart from your monthly internet bill. All you have to do is log in to your account, click the proper icon, and there you have it: near instantaneous communication.  It isn’t just loved ones living on the other side of the world that you can contact easily now, but those living nearby as well.  Mothers who worry over their sons and daughters who moved away for college can easily contact them with any of the messaging apps available for free. If they are especially worried, they can easily do a video call.

Even if you have no wifi, you can connect to any messaging app using mobile data. You don’t need to wait for weeks for a letter, or wait for a specific time so the internet connection will be reliable. You can contact people now. 

As a boy of nine, I remember my father having to leave for business trips. It was always a difficult time for me and my family, because we never knew if he could keep in touch. One trip would be to a relatively urban area of the Philippines, and the next could be to some far-flung province. If the latter were the case, then we knew it might be a few days—if not weeks—before he could contact us. 

Families now don’t have to go through this. Whether it’s the vibrant night market of Thailand or some far-flung barrio in Mindanao, there is bound to be a place with internet. The internet, especially with social media, has brought families closer together. Sometimes too close! Who among us hasn’t been called out on their social media accounts by their parents or concerned relatives regarding something relatively minor (for you) but major for them? Fathers and mothers, though absent in body, can be present with their family through social media. Fathers can check whether or not his daughter has an admirer or suitor or boyfriend that she’s hiding from him. Joking aside, the internet and social media have made separation from our friends and loved ones more bearable. The nights are less lonely, and the distance apart has become less.

Every week, my aunt holds a Bible study with her family.  Everyone gathers around the living room, bringing their Bibles and coming together to share their blessings and to study the Word of God. My aunt is working as a nurse in New York City, while her family is in Caloocan City, Philippines.  Yet, every week, they come together to study the Word of God. Distance and time difference have become irrelevant. They are thousands of miles apart, yet they can see and hear each other as if they were face to face. 

Arnold Mayor

For Arnold Mayor, reading has been his passion and escape for as long as he can remember. Arnold stays true to the emotional depth of his childhood worship while taking to heart the emphasis on truth in his current church. A sinner saved by grace. Imperfect, unworthy and grateful. Saved and being saved.