Telegram message ’stop’ end

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telegram20131007ON September 20, 2013, the last telegram in the Philippines was sent.
The message went like this:

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Untitled

I CAR HDD DH RUSH
BAGUIOCITY SEPT 20/13

LOUIS NAPOLEON CASAMBRE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
INFORMATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS
TECHNOLOGY OFFICE
NCC BUILDING
CARLOS P GARCIA AVENUE
QUEZONCITY

THIS WILL BE MY FIRST AND LAST TELEGRAM TO YOU SIR BECAUSE WE WILL CEASE THE OPERATION OF TELEGRAPH SERVICE NATIONWIDE EFFECTIVE 5PM TODAY SEPTEMBER 20 2013 STP WE NOW BID FAREWELL TO THIS COMMUNICATION MEDIUM OF OUR ERA AND HOPE THAT THIS LAST TELEGRAM SENT BE A MUSEUM
PIECE END

WILFRED P QUINES
TELOS CAR BAGUIOCITY

/1515

The message was both amusing and sad. Amusing because telegraph operator Wilfred P Quines exactly knew such a message would elicit an attention, thus even stating his “last telegram sent be a museum piece.”

Sad because for people—and I’m sure a lot of them are still very much around —who grew up with popular telegram companies such as PT&T and RCPI, would trigger memories— both good and bad—on how important the telegram service was.

This was the time when there were no mobile phones, text messaging, email, chat rooms, social media, and the Internet. The time when landline telephone was still a luxury. The time when people had to walk kilometers or literally cross mountains and rivers just to make a single phone call or have a short message sent via telegram.

“For folks who lived before the advent of mobile phone and the Internet, the telegram was a cutting-edge technology—perhaps the text messaging or Twitter equivalent of that time,” said Newsbytes.ph, the IT news website that first posted the message on October 4. “But, with modern communication systems rendering the telegram almost a relic of the past, the government has formally decided to shut down the telegram service in the Philippines.”

And since it was posted online, several netizens jumped in to react on the demise of the telegraph service in the country.

“Wow! I didnt even know that it still existed,” said one post. “I could remember that a telegram always got immediate attention. There was an urgency to it. It brought important news – good or bad. There’s always a breathtaking rush, a millisecond before you open it.”

True. Every telegram was important. The sense of urgency was always there. At that time, no one sends a message via telegram unless it was an emergency or something. If not, everyone settled for the regular post mail, in which it took days or weeks to arrive. But a telegram will get to the recipient almost as soon as it reached its destination.

Another online post: “Yep . . . I still remember our last one from kuya when he was a med rep in Visayas: ‘SEND MONEY . . . HUNGRY.”

Yes, telegrams were also short and to the point. All because it was expensive sending a telegram back then. And because telegrams were sent via wires and directly delivered to the recipient wherever they were located, telegram companies charge per word. So, messages should be short and direct. Still, it was cheaper than a long-distance phone call. That is, if there was a phone in the area at all.

And before the arrival of text messaging, February 14 was probably the busiest time at the telegraph office, with gimmicks that include flowers delivered with the short love note, or even a singing telegram service. Yes, those were the times. A past generation when messages were truly warm and personal. Indeed, itís an end of an era.

The Philippine telegram service was under the Telecommunications Office (TELOF) of the ICTO (formerly CICT). TELOF was also used to be under the DOTC, until 2009. In July, India finally closed its own telegram service, which lasted 162 years. It was one of the oldest in the world.

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