When I had some friends who had their novitiate here in Cebu (I was still a seminarian back in Canlubang), our means of communication were the following:
- snail mail
I didn't have any problem with the snail mail, but I had to wait for some weeks before my letters were delivered. And this is also true with the replies I would long to read from the other side except when Salesians whom I know would hand carry my letters to the novitiate when I knew that they would visit Cebu and vise versa.
Back in Canlubang, my access to the telephone was only through the payphone installed near the recreational area. We had the phone in the study hall, but it was meant only for incoming calls and for the offices within the compound. Hence, I couldn't use it to call Cebu.
I had to ask my mom to buy call cards (worth P200, which was good for a 30-minute call) and when recreation time came (after asking permission from our In-charge), I would ring the novitiate house.
When I left the seminary, I resorted only to using the phone and the e-mail. I went away with the snail mail, except when I needed to send a parcel to Cebu. It was not really a problem for me because no. 1 I didn't have to ask for permission anymore and no.2 I was already earning money.
When PLDT introduced its promo three years ago (local call to any point of the Philippines for only P10 per call), I think I was the happiest person in the Philippines. I didn't only call the novitiate in Cebu, I also called our houses of formation in Laguna. And I would burn hours and hours of coversation with my friends.
When my friends were novices, E-mail was not yet in vogue. I mean, I had access to it, but it didn’t mean anything because if I remember it correctly, the novitiate house was not yet “online.” It’s like I’d be sending an e-mail, but the reply would come after some weeks or so.
A friend, after finishing his novitiate thanked me for the many letters I sent him. He told me that they had helped him keep his sanity in the midst of the difficult situation he was in.
This I remember very well, and I promised myself that when I’d become a novice (in case I'd return to the seminary--which I did), I would keep writing to people. I even wanted to have a personal newsletter which I could distribute to some friends on a monthly basis, just to keep in touch. Good thing, I didn't have to resort to that, for we have access to the Internet and the blogging technology has been revolutionized.