Who said the telegram was no more?
There was a recent report that the good old reliable telegram was dead and buried. Several headlines worldwide announced the untimely demise of what was once thought of as an indispensable type of communication. “Just another victim of the new technology,” one story went. “No more singing telegrams,” another lamented.
It turns out that although suffering from a serious downspin in revenue, telegraph companies are alive and well. And, no, the telegram has not become a relic or museum piece.
The Internet has definitely affected its popularity. It is true that new and ever evolving technology has made enormous advances in getting the message there first. But singing telegrams are still being sent and received with happy anticipation. And in areas without Internet, WiFi, smart phones and whatever else they call the latest gadgets, sending messages via the old telegraph wires is still an efficient means of communication.
The business of the telegraphed word has weakened. But, no, it has not died.
When was the last time you received a telegram? Who sent it? Do you remember what it said? Wasn’t it exciting (sometimes frightening) to see the RCA or Mackay Radio guy drive up to your door?
They tell me that once upon a long time ago, my Razon grandfather established the first telegraph offices from Aparri to Jolo. I think that’s amazing. But I digress.
I was 19 when I received my first cablegram sent from Japan by my brand-new husband. He was in Tokyo for a series of exhibition games, part of the first “friendship team” ever sent from the Philippines to Japan after the war. The message was snarled and his signature even more so. The operator could not decipher his chicken-scratchy handwriting. Regardless, it was sweet and I was thrilled to death.
Today we hardly react to the envelope icon that pops up on our screen to tell us, “You’ve got mail!” It does the job, but the excitement can’t compare.
One young person at a party asked me why my generation always tells stories about brothers and sisters, cousins and even relatives several times removed.
“How did families back then keep in touch? How come today I hardly know anything about my relatives? Why are we not as connected?”
Philippine culture is family-oriented—overly so, some may think. This is especially true in the provinces. The disconnection is often found in the more “sophisticated” cities and suburbs where well-heeled and world-traveled families have unwittingly distanced themselves by being socially selective or too preoccupied to stay in touch.
In the good old days, our celebrations always counted on the attendance of family—siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Never mind their ages. They say the first friends you ever have in your life are your cousins. In my life, this was wonderfully true. It still is.
This was how we preserved and strengthened family ties. We knew what everyone was up to. We celebrated together. There was a bond.
When did it change and why? When did keeping in touch with family become none of our business?
Some family rifts cannot be helped. Sometimes changes in financial and social conditions cause the break. Why do we hesitate to be the first ones to reach out? I know brothers and sisters who would rather drift apart than confront their issues. Parents split up and take off in different directions. One never plans it that way. But it happens.
We must remember that no matter what changes us, whatever our circumstances may be, good, bad or indifferent, “we start and end with family.”
Phases of life
I had a lovely chat with a very wise friend. We discussed the phases of life.
This was her observation. “As I grow older, I see life as a play on stage. We make an entrance early amid joyful applause. As the story unfolds, we are the main protagonists, the stars. We live out our years with joy and sorrow, laughter and tears.
“Then time starts running out. Whether we like it or not, another cast of players takes over. They become the main characters. We are props that blend with the scenery and fade into the background. The drama continues.
“Finally, on cue from an unseen Director, we speak our last lines and exit. It is entirely possible that no one will ever know or care that our name was once in lights on the marquee. That’s life.”
And she sighed.
Is that really all there is? Do we just go quietly into the sunset and become one with the air, the stars and the sky? That could almost sound romantic. But that’s not what I learned in Sunday school.
So this is my scenario.
After I take my bows, don’t stand in my way. I want to quickly get up there to that place somewhere beyond the rainbow and make beautiful music with the angels. There may not be a halo with my name on it, but that’s okay. I can wait.
With all my heart I will polish up my harp until it shines like a million stars. And then as loud as I can, I will sing “Hallelujah” to my King!