Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Art That was Telegram

* the telegraph office in San Pablo City, Laguna

A quick stroll on San Pablo Plaza would give one a nostalgic feeling for the city’s past. The general town set-up imposed by the Spaniards is still evident – if you are facing from the city plaza you’ll have the church behind you, the old town hall on the right, and the market a number of blocks away to the left. Behind the church, on the area of San Pablo Colleges was the old cemetery. Well, that was the rumor.

The nostalgic description may be a little out of place for I was not still born during the time of the Spanish occupation of the archipelago. Nevertheless I am still drawn to that particular period in the country’s past. But I am getting away from my topic.

Just beside the old municipal hall (which also housed the Court of the First Instance before) is a small office, partially concealed by a big tarpaulin about the history and tourist spots of Laguna. The office is labeled TELECOM and Tanggapan ng Telegrama. Unfortunately, the telegram is a dead business and art.

I said business for it was our primitive form of quick communication. Where regular snail mails failed, the telegram was the king. I can still remember the telegrams we received from Northern Luzon informing us of the death of relatives there. The messages were curt. The messages were straight to the point.

But with all the technological products we have around which I will omit mentioning, the telegram is no longer functional and practical. One can now send message to someone on the other side of the world in less than a second. You can even see them, talk to them given the necessary computer accessories.

The joy of receiving a blue plastic envelope containing a telegram is something that I, a mere dot in this internet-driven earth, still cherish. Advanced communication gadgets may have made the world nearer and smaller but there are some things that they cannot replace. And that is the element of humanity in some activities we no longer have. That includes the telegram.

With these thoughts, I plan to interview some of the former (or present, if any) staff in our city’s telegraph office and solicit from them some thoughts about this dead art. And I say it is (or was) an art as we had to rake through our minds in order to convey a message in the shortest possible way.


  1. very nice... sana naabutan ko din ang telegram..

  2. Hi Ivan. Kakaiba nga ang dating pag nakatanggap ng telegrama dati. Dinaig pa to a certain extent ang mga medyo tamad magtext. Sana mahagilap ko pa ang mga lumang telegrama sa bahay.