Christmas is just around the corner, and it is time once again to fulfill one of our family's traditions - sending Christmas cards by post or what is now called "snail" mail.
Although the Internet has given us the option of sending e-cards, I still stick to the traditional method of sending Christmas greetings to my relatives and friends. Every year, we prepare personalized cards with our personal message on it. Due to heavy postal traffic in some countries during the holiday season, we mail our cards early.
Sending postal mail to the Philippines is quite a "nightmare," and I experienced this again recently when I sent an important document to my sister by post. It took exactly three weeks before she received it. I thought it got lost along the way. As I seldom rely on "snail" mail for sending letters and documents (thanks to e-mail, fax, SMS, and courier services that can deliver messages in a flash), I almost forgot just how slow our country's postal service is. I cannot however fathom why the Philippines' postal service cannot be more like Taiwan's. The latter's postal service is very efficient. What is wrong with the Philippines' mail network?
I made a simple study this year by mailing - ordinary airmail - our personalized Christmas cards to friends and family members residing outside of Taiwan late last month. I made notes as to how fast those cards would get to their recipients. I even asked my friends to write me an e-mail as soon as they get their cards.
The fastest response came from Hong Kong (two days), followed by - would you believe it? - Australia (four days). My friends in the U.S. and Canada received their cards in seven days, and those in Switzerland, Thailand and Malaysia got theirs in 10 days.
Wait a minute. What about those cards that I sent to the Philippines? Well, as I sit here writing this article, no one from the Philippines has given me an update on those Christmas cards. Apparently, no one has received them yet! (This article was submitted a week ago - Ed.)
Based on my experience last year, some of the cards that we sent to the Philippines were received after Christmas, and some, even after the New Year. The postal service, I discovered, can be used to gauge the level of a country or government's efficiency. It may also reflect the state of bureaucracy in each country, or even the working attitudes of their employees. In short, this simple efficiency problem is rooted into the kind of service that our government offers.
Though many of our fellow Filipinos choose to communicate with their loved ones via text messaging or SMS, some still depend on "snail" mail to stay in touch with their families. To some of them, the Philippines' postal system will be one nightmare!