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Smart Telecom Tower Leaving Sagada?

In June last year, we had a hard time contacting our loved ones in Sagada, Mountain Province. All of my family members there use Smart as their mobile carrier. In Sagada, almost all phone users are Smart subscribers, since Globe and Sun telecom signals in the area are limited.

That time, Smart shut its signal down for almost a week. Its tower, located on top of Mt. Ampacao, has been serving subscribers there with excellent telecom signal ever since Smart conquered the highlands.

Prior to the signal shutdown, villagers whose land properties are covered by the tower building, demanded for an unimaginable rental increase.

Balugan chairman John Polon asked Smart to increase the rental from P40, 000 a year to P600, 000 a year; LAND CLAIMANT Bernard Batnag requested for an increase from P50, 000 a year to P1, 200,000 a year.

The Math blew me away! Can you imagine the increase my dear folks are demanding? The easy money receivers wanted more money.

When we were in Sagada for the holidays, Smart signal bars kept on disappearing on our phone screens. Maid kasin signal di Smart! There were two nights when everyone in the town kept on complaining; they were not receiving any SMS due to the technical trouble.

Stories have it that Smart has already decided to transfer its tower to Mt. Polis in Bagnen, Bauko. Mt. Polis is the province’s tallest mountain. If this will materialize, the receivers of the easy money will no longer getting any. Logically.

When I learned about this issue, I went evil describing some vaguely identified people “mukhang pera” on Facebook. The post gained negative criticisms from my folks in the country and abroad.

Sorry for always mentioning the truth.

Further stories have it that Smart had a Memorandum of Agreement with Barangay Balugan (which assumingly owns Mt. Ampacao) that was not fulfilled. Moreover, the rental fee has been increasing through the years as demanded by the involved parties.

I have to laugh at the word “land claimant”. Who really owns the lot covered by the tower’s foundation? Barangay Balugan says “dakami!” A family also claims the area as theirs. So the two parties have been receiving easy money for more than a decade already.

Let’s not forget the LGU which also has been receiving taxes from Smart as well.

Any major major development brought by the rental fees in these two recipient parties that we can be proud of? We should never forget that the fee is merely easy money.

Globe is already positioning itself in Sagada. It has its cell site erected within the Anglican’s mission compound in the town’s center. And it seems that more and more people in Sagada are now using Globe. From one, there are three stores offering Globe Prepaid Loads already near our house.

In the coming days, we will see what happens to the Smart tower in Sagada. For sure, its exit leaves a more peaceful Sagada. Don’t worry Smart subscribers, the exit does not mean that we won’t be receiving the good signal we enjoyed for years.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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