In this health crisis where almost everyone needs an online connection, residents in Paranas, Samar farming village have found bamboo poles as a technology ally useful to access social media.

Bamboos, measuring about 10 meters erected next to houses, are a common sight in Tenani village, which is 15 km. away from the town center of Paranas.

At the tip of the bamboo pole, a plastic bottle is installed covering a WiFi modem.

Photo: SIGNAL BOOSTER. Bamboo poles next to houses are common in Tenani village, Paranas, Samar. During the health crisis where almost everyone needs social connection, residents in this town’s farming village have found bamboo poles very useful to access social media. (PNA photo by Roel Amazona)

“That’s for us to access Messenger and Facebook,” Sherly Villamor, a mother of five and a long-time village resident, said on Wednesday.

Tenani village is nestled among mountains and near the longest river in Eastern Visayas – the Ulot River along the Buray-Taft Road that connects Samar and Eastern Samar provinces.

The village is within the Samar Island Natural Park.

Due to its location, poor mobile phone signal is a common concern among villagers.

“We have mobile phones here, but you can’t call or message us. The best way to contact us is through Facebook and Messenger,” Villamor said in an interview.

The residents learned about the makeshift signal booster last March when movement restrictions deprived them of face-to-face communication with those outside their village.

“One of our neighbors tried this very simple ‘technology’ – WiFi modem on top of a tall bamboo pole. It is covered by an empty bottled water container to keep it dry during rainy days,” she added.

These bamboos, however, don’t guarantee round-the-clock social media access since they can only send and receive Facebook messages late at night and make video calls past midnight.

“I bought the modem for my children to do online research, but the problem is we only have signal during night time. The messaging app is still beneficial since they can ask for clarification from their teachers and classmates at night,” Villamor said.

Tenani village is known for the Ulot Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride, an extreme water adventure for tourists, managed by male residents formerly engaged in illegal logging activities. (Roel Amazona, PNA)