Last week, on Thursday morning, there was a knock on the front door. There was a truck (a Meralco subcontractor, I suppose, because the truck bore no Meralco logo) and we were informed that the transformer on the post right in front of our garden would be replaced with a larger one. Power would be turned off for about an hour while work was being done. An hour without power sounded negligible if it meant getting an upgrade. So, we were happy. We were even chatting with the crew.
After 45 minutes of waiting, I got restless. I asked the guy installing the new transformer if it meant we won’t get any more power outages (our area is NOT included among those experiencing rotating brownouts) and he said yes. Oh, good.
At 6.00 a.m. today, Speedy and I went out for our morning walk around the subdivision. A few minutes later, I heard someone shouting, “Brownout!” The moment we got back to the house, the first thing I did was to call up the Meralco hotline. The feedback after 30 minutes — there was an “emergency line trouble” and there was no assurance what time power would be restored.
With the horrendous rates that Meralco exacts on us consumers, and considering that power distribution has been a Meralco monopoly for like a hundred years (no, I am not kidding), and considering the recent hike in power rates, and — even more importantly — considering that power cost in this country is the highest in Asia, you’d think that Meralco should have sufficiently upgraded all of its facilities over the years (and not just the houses and cars and lifestyles of its executives). Oh, but shit, we still hear about “emergency line trouble” too often.
The phrase “emergency line trouble” is Meralco’s stock response to describe any cause that results in power outage. When we were living in another part of Antipolo, when the winds blew stronger than usual (no, I’m not talking about typhoons), power would go out. Like effing clockwork. And that was “emergency line trouble”. When a transformer blew up, it was “emergency line trouble”.
When Ondoy hit last year and Meralco turned off the power in areas submerged in floods, we had no power too although there were never any floods in our neighborhood. When I called up the Meralco hotline and asked why we still didn’t have power two days after the rains had stopped, I was told it was — you guessed it — “emergency line trouble”. It turned out that Meralco thought ALL OF ANTIPOLO was deep in floods and turned off power in the ENTIRE AREA. Duh.
In short, if the cause is dilapidated equipment, it’s “emergency line trouble”. If it’s human error, it’s still “emergency line trouble”. And we all have to BEAR WITH THE LAME EXPLANATIONS because — you guessed it again — Meralco has a monopoly on power supply. So, so, sooooo effing Third World crap but — get this — with First World power rates.