11 November 2020 – Select locations of the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s Free Wi-Fi for All Program within the island province of typhoon-hit Catanduanes had been restored to support communication and connectivity needs of the people therein in the aftermath  of Typhoon Rolly, last November 1 (Sunday).

Below is the list of locations within the province where DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All is now accessible:

  • Provincial Capitol
  • Viga Town Hall
  • Viga Rural Development High School
  • Pandan Rural Health Unit
  • Caramoran Rural Health Unit
  • Viga District Hospital
  • Pandan District Hospital
  • Juan M. Alberto Memorial Hospital
  • Gigmoto District Hospital
  • Catanduanes State University Panganiban Campus

The restoration of connectivity in select locations of Catanduanes was a welcome assistance for the people to access important news information regarding the status of neighboring municipalities and the relief and recovery efforts that were being done on the province.

Hindi ako makapag-data kasi mahina yung signal dito…dahil merong DICT [Free Wi-Fi], nagpunta kami dito para lang talaga maka-connect…nakapag-update ako sa aming boss at nalaman nila yung sitwasyon ng mga staff. Gumagamit kami ng satellite Wi-Fi na DICT din ang nagbigay,” said Cecilio Hagos, Jr., Field Manager from Good Neighbors International Philippines.

So ngayon nakikita ko kung ano nangyayari sa ibang munisipyo at ano yung mga agency na papasok para makatulong dito sa probinsya ng Catanduanes dahil sa Typhoon Rolly…Malaking tulong when it comes to maximizing kung anong resources [ang meron] tayo sa panahon ngayon na down ang system,” Hagos, Jr. added.

[“I can’t rely on my cellular data since the signal is weak here right now…but because there’s DICT Free Wi-Fi, we came here [to the Provincial Capitol] just to be able to connect [online]…I was able to give updates to my boss, so they’ll know the situation of their staff here. We are using the satellite Wi-Fi that the DICT also provided.

It allows us to know what’s happening at other municipalities [in Catanduanes] and which agencies have already made it here to give assistance following Typhoon Rolly. It is a huge help when it comes to maximizing the resources that we have during this time when all other systems are down…”]

Others used the service to contact their relatives living outside the province to inform them about the current situation in Virac, Catanduanes. 

Ang una ko pong ginawa kahapon [pagkatapos ma-install ang Free Wi-Fi], kinontact ko po yung family and friends ko po sa areas outside Catanduanes to update them about my situation, na okay naman po ako dito,” said Jufflin Calalo, a Local Development Officer II from the Provincial Capitol of Virac.

[“The first thing I did yesterday after Free Wi-Fi was installed was to contact my family and friends outside Catanduanes to update them about my situation, to tell them that I’m okay here.”]

The Department had been prioritizing the restoration of Free Wi-Fi sites in the Bicol region as the latter is reeling from the aftermath of Super Typhoon Rolly that left communication lines devastated. Presently, a total of 155 are now up in the region: 4 in Catanduanes, 18 in Albay, 6 in Camarines Norte, 17 in Camarines Sur, 2 in Masbate and 108 in Sorsogon.

“We shall continue helping restore connectivity services in the Bicol region to help the people and the local government with their recovery response, to facilitate the pooling of assistance efforts from the Filipino community, and to connect the people in these typhoon-hit areas with their loved ones residing outside the region,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II affirmed.

“Likewise, the DICT’s team is standing by as another typhoon, Typhoon Ulysses, is likely to once again affect ICT infrastructure in the area—we will be, just as before, ready for quick deployment and restoration,” Honasan added.