Satellite connects isolated Cebu island to the internet (Sunstar)
GRADE 10 student Joseph Edward Cabilao used to hunt for a mobile signal on the isolated island of Pangan-an in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu just so he could research online for his assignments.
“Lisod kaayo ang access diri sa internet, samot na kung naay dag-om, dili jud mi makadakop sa signal. Usahay adto ra mi makadakop og signal sa tumoy sa lawis. Mao na maglakaw pa mi,” Cabilao said. (Access to the internet is very difficult here, especially when it’s cloudy. We can’t catch a signal at all. Sometimes, we have to go to the shore just to get a signal, so we have to walk there.)
Now, Cabilao will finally have steady access to Google and other online research tools as a Starlink satellite has been installed at his school, the Pangan-an National High School.
Cabilao is one of the 700 elementary and high school students who will benefit greatly from the satellite, which was donated by the Central Visayas Information Sharing Network Foundation Inc. (CVISNET) in partnership with Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) Foundation of Australia on May 17, 2023.
The Starlink satellite is part of the Internet for Sustainable Livelihood, e-Education, and Tourism (ISLET) Connect program of the two foundations, which seeks to bring internet connectivity to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) in the country.
For the young Cabilao, the simple disc satellite can change his future.
“Dako kay ni nga tabang as a student kay dili na mi maglisod pagpangita signal. Mas madali na among research jud. Nindot kaayo kay wala ray gasto,” Cabilao said.
(It’s a significant improvement for us students because we no longer struggle to find a signal, making our research much easier. It’s great because there’s no additional cost involved.)
Roberto Cabarrubias, president of CVisNet, said the project in Pangan-an island is only part of the one-year program in partnership with APNIC that involved three islands in Lapu-Lapu City including Gilutongan, Caohagan and Pangan-an.
He said Starlink came into the picture when they were looking for an alternative internet source for Pangan-an, which is located farther away from the mainland relative to Gilutongan island.
Starlink is an Internet system by American tech company SpaceX that uses a constellation of low earth orbit satellites to provide connectivity across the globe.
Teachers on the island rejoiced with the installation of the satellite as they believe it will greatly impact the education system now.
Ma. Daryl B. Ochea, a Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) teacher from Pangan-an High School, said she used to download materials in bulk when she was on the mainland so she could bring meaningful materials enough for a week.
Now, anytime she needs to find a recipe for a dish, she can simply research it anytime.
This connection has also given more opportunities to the school principal of Pangan-an High School Ana Marie S. Caballa.
According to Caballa, she had never experienced having a stable connection enough for a video conference in her 18 years of service in the school.
She added that this will add to the formative educational experience of students who will now have wider access to more learning resources.
Jeffrey Llanto, executive director of CVisNet, said the goal really is to provide connectivity for the far-flung areas, especially the three identified islands.
CVisNet is a Cebu-based non-government organization that traces its roots as a government project that eventually evolved into a foundation, partnering with international organizations like APNIC and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).