• A return to relevance

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    It does not take a genius to figure out that the post office as we know it is fast heading to obsolescence, unless the government takes immediate action to again make it relevant.

    With email now universally used, and with the majority of Filipinos owning cell phones, staying in touch with friends and loved ones is a snap. Why bother with the hassle of typing or writing a letter by hand, placing it inside a stamped envelope, and taking it to the nearest post box, when a simple email will do?

    And why buy a gift, wrap it up, and take it to the nearest post office when an online purchase

    of just about anything—with free delivery—is available anywhere?

    Indeed, ordinary postal service is almost a quaint idea nowadays, akin to going from one city to another via kalesa instead of a high speed rail system. Sure there are kalesas that can handle the trip from, say, Intramuros to Imus in a few hours, just like they did a hundred years ago. But why bother? Why waste time, which is such a precious commodity in this day and age?

    Ordinary mail is so slow that it is now referred to as snail mail, which is almost an insult to the bigger and relatively faster snails found in the wild.

    Then there is the problem of pilferage. In the Philippines, sad to say, not all employees of the Post Office are paragons of honesty. Packages and parcels can get lost or tampered with if they are suspected to contain anything of value.

    This is not to say that the country’s post office is totally useless. It’s not. There are still many among us who would prefer to send and receive handwritten letters or cards on special occasions. The more romantic among us would also prefer to receive love letters sealed with a kiss (actually, a dab of perfume).

    There are sensory experiences which cannot be replaced by today’s technology, although we are certain somewhere out there, there are attempts to send three dimensional objects across the barriers of space and time. But until the time comes when a handwritten letter can be sent in one machine and come out in another, the need for postal services.

    Trying to stay viable
    It is heartening to note that the Philippine Postal Corp. (PHLPost) is taking steps to remain a viable operation.

    We recall the waning years of the Marcos regime when a young J. Roilo Golez was appointed Postmaster General, and the Annapolis graduate shook up the country’s postal system. Mail was suddenly delivered faster and pilferage minimized.

    Golez has since moved on to other things, with special emphasis on his long service to the people of Paranaque City as their elected representative to the House.

    It is now 2013, and the position of Postmaster General has gone to Josephine dela Cruz, who took office with the onset of the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    Certainly the challenges she faces today are far different from what Golez had to face in the mid-‘80s. Unlike Golez who had to overcome a bureaucracy and a system that seemed like a lumbering dinosaur stuck in a tar pit, Dela Cruz has to face technological advances that can overwhelm the best of executives.

    Hers is not an easy task. Even the United States Postal Service has been struggling to keep its head above water in recent years, as have most postal services around the world.

    The twin challenges of speedy advances in the field of information technology and highly efficient private mail and courier services means that PHLPost and its peers will have to adopt strategies and tactics which assume that change is a constant. As such, they will always have to stay on their toes in order to take the correct measures to keep up.

    Like any other government corporation, PHLPost must always look at its bottom line, year in and year out. It cannot afford to operate in the red for too long, because the possibility of its being disbanded or shut down is not remote.

    For our part, we would like to see the Post Office stay around for a few more decades, or even centuries. Receiving personal letters from friends and loved ones is still an experience we do not want to disappear any time soon.

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