Sunday, October 9, 2011

Electricity and Communications in the Philippines

MERALCO company is the main source of electricity in the Philippines. The electricity supply is mostly 220 volts, 60 cycles, though the actual voltage is often much less, particularly in the provinces. Brownouts and blackouts are much less of a problem than in the past, but unplug any appliances during power cuts or periods of low voltage, as there may be heavy surges when the electricity returns to normal. A major problem is that, the most of the plugs and sockets are of the standard US two or three-flat-pin type, normally used for the 110 volts. To make matters worse, there are some 110-volt supplies using plugs and sockets of the Continental European two-round-pin type normally associated with 220 volts! Where three-flat-pins are used, the earth pin is not interlocked as in Europe, so two-pin plugs can still be inserted.

Meralco Building
Many larger hotels now have a system where a plastic rectangle that is permanently attached to the room key, or is the room key itself, must be inserted into a slot in your room for the electricity to be switched on. This is a nuisance if you wish to charge batteries or keep the air-conditioning on while you are out. Many of these systems can be kept switched on by inserting a piece of stiff cardboard or plastic into the slot. 

Communications have improved recently in the Philippines. Most areas now have cellular telephones and there are more overland telephone lines than before; many of the Filipinos have their own e-mail addresses, access to an internet cafĂ© or have their own computer at home or laptop.  However, telephone access is not always reliable, then few areas do not have telephone connections and in other places, the connections can be interrupted by power failures. Some of the larger resort hotels have set up their own satellite communications systems, but this does not mean that they will answer your inquiries.

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