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Feature: Remote village connects to the world

Davao City (1 June) -- In Kimlawis, a remote barangay of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, and where the nearest city, General Santos, is 102 kilometers away, a signal for your mobile or cellular phone is a commodity as rare as a gem. There are particular spots though in Kimlawis where data waves or signals pass through the mountain range surrounding the barangays and residents converge on these spots to use their mobile phones.

Ben, a high school student, walks a kilometer from his house to Kimlawis and to this particular spot to join other residents who are engrossed with their mobile phones. It is beginning to look like a communal activity or ritual.

Kimlawis is a remote mountain village that can only be reached on a horseback ride until about four years ago when the municipal government with help from responsible mineral development firm Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) rehabilitated the road leading to the village.

The village, which used to be known as a bandit lair, is home to around 400 families, who rely mainly on agriculture, making the village a source of abaca, vegetables and root crops.

At dusk sometime middle of the month, residents went out of their houses excitedly chatting on their mobile phones. The entire village is already covered with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). "No more walking a distance to send and receive SMS," said Ben.

The GPRS came as SMI's communication technology personnel erected a 40-foot pole, serving as extender of cellular phone signal from the Baluyan town of Smart Communications.

John Arnaldo, SMI Communications Manager, said the move is part of an initial plan that would continuously link major facilities of the company and at the same time provide stable communication service to host communities and their immediate vicinity.

"What we have now at Kimlawis is not the kind of signal that goes through walls, so that people have to go out of their houses yet," he explained.

Arnaldo said they are currently working on eventually increasing the area of coverage, boosting efficient and reliable cellular phone signal from the Liberty Core Farm in Tampakan, South Cotabato to Kimlawis, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur. (PIA) [top]

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