Thanks to Pinoy creativity and resourcefulness, my goner of an iPhone now looks as good as new

BEFORE

THE Filipino’s legendary creativity and resourcefulness have again saved the day. During a previous blog entry, I shared with you how my absent-mindedness (okay, stupidity!) all but destroyed my beautiful and hardworking iPhone 4S.

The front glass cover or screen was cracked in a million different places, but for some strange reason, the iPhone still worked. If that had happened, say, in the US, the owner would have immediately written off the phone and replaced it with a new one, preferably the iPhone 5, but not in the Philippines.

(If you have time to go to this blog’s comments section, you’d be surprised to find out that something similar had happened to Hanna, one of my most faithful readers, and her iPhone.

(Yes, including the iPhone-on-the-car roof scene. Actually, hers is the better story because it involved another person, who found and eventually returned Hanna’s iPhone.)
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Makati or Greenhills?

I followed two friends’ advice to take my unit to either Park Square in Makati or Sunlink in Greenhills, and see if the phone could still be repaired. Since I’m a Makati person, I went to Park Square and found what I was looking for.

Adi Gadyet does all sorts of repairs on almost all brands and models—from unlocking phones (the most common) to replacing busted monitors, buttons, casings and, in my case, shattered glass screens.

In short, my iPhone’s case is pretty much routine to them. The guys there even showed me a pile of old iPhone 4S screens (all of them black) in varying degrees of damage, which they’ve accumulated and replaced with new ones over the past week. In an hour or so, my very own white iPhone cover would join their trophy collection.

“We haven’t had the chance to work on an iPhone 5 yet,” said the lead technician. “But now that you’ve mentioned it, it probably won’t take long before we get our hands on one.”

Actually, it could have taken them less than two hours to do the job had there been a replacement part within reach. While a technician gingerly opened the gadget, an assistant had to leave the place to get the necessary white component. Their supply central is a jeepney ride away.

After the whole thing was over, I was poorer by P4,000 (around $97) but happier and feeling a million dollars richer.

My happiness stemmed from the fact that after nearly giving up on the unit myself, there I was holding my newly refurbished iPhone, which was looking as sharp and as shiny as the day I took it out from its box eight months ago. And to think, it looked like a goner less than two hours ago. Unbelievable!

It’s more fun in the Philippines

Elbert, my Facebook friend who told me to go to Greenhills, said that I would have saved a bit more had I followed his advice. In the end, though, he and countless others on Facebook, particularly Blas, who told me to go to Park Square, were happy to learn that my iPhone is now as good as new.

AFTER

“You got to love the Philippines! Walk into a mall and get your screen replaced for a little under $100. If you went to the store I recommended in Greenhills, it would’ve been a bit cheaper,” Elbert said.

“The important thing is that you’ve got your phone back. In most Western countries, the quick fix would’ve been to bite the bullet and get a new one.”

Elbert’s last line got me thinking. Indeed, like I said earlier, had this happened in the US, Japan or Western Europe, the poor fellow (okay, stupid!) wouldn’t have thought twice of replacing his busted unit with a new one.  Besides, where would he go (aside from a legitimate Apple store) to have the unit repaired?

It’s that very thinking I believe, which hinders repair shops other than those directly connected with a particular brand from going mainstream and thriving in these regions.

I was of the same mind soon after I saw how hapless my iPhone had become. I went to Globe the next day, and was told that I had to surrender the unit for 10 working days, as they would ship it to, if I heard it right, Hong Kong while the guys at Apple replace damaged parts.

But the cost of the entire operation brought me back to my senses. With a total price tag amounting to P32,000, it would have been like buying a new iPhone.  Forget it!

Because life is a bit harder in these parts, we try to hold on to our worldly possessions much longer. Filipinos are also generally a sentimental lot.

It depends on the person, but I’ve noticed that it isn’t uncommon for Filipinos to keep things, no matter how obsolete they’ve become, because they remind them of their givers and the times, both good and bad, associated with these treasured objects.

Decades of consumerism

It’s as if certain stuff were alive and have distinct personalities.  (Blas even have names for his computers!) Such sentimentality over inanimate objects probably isn’t as pronounced in industrialized countries where decades of consumerism have been ingrained in people’s consciousness.

This culture of instant gratification, especially among young people, is generally seen as beneficial to the economy in consumerist societies.  Besides, why bother to have something repaired when it would be cheaper to buy a new one that’s made either in China, India or Mexico? Blame it, not on lack of resourcefulness, but on high labor costs.

With easy access to credit (especially before the start of the Great Recession), I’m willing to bet that people in the West who save up to buy things have become a dying breed. Thanks to plastic, you can buy now and pay (worry) later.

In a way, countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, are inching closer, if they haven’t already,  to such an “ideal.” We are a society in transition. In the meantime, our sentimentality and legendary ability to network and scour informal channels for to-die-for bargains are helping us weather this transition. In many ways, life is indeed more fun in the Philippines.

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