The first telephone system in Camiguin

The first telephone system in Camiguin is NOT  the Phil-German Rural Telephone Network Project/Camiguin Telephone Cooperative (CAMTECO).  Believe it or not – there was a working telephone system in the 60s spanning the entire town of Mambajao – from Tupsan to Naasag.

The equipments
WWII US Signal Corp surplus


The telephone set, encased in leather bag, is powered by 2 Size “D” dry cells. Dialing is done by cranking a rotary handle at the side. It sends 100V(!) over a single wire to all telephone sets from Naasag to the operator switchboard in Mambajao Municipal Hall. All phone rings! We know it’s our call by the cadence of short and long rings.

The switchboard is located at the entrance (left side) of the old Mambajao Municipal Hall (in front of the Provincial Plaza and the gymnasium). Its function is to connect calls to other areas – to Tupsan and other streets in Publacion.

How the switchboard come into play? For example, Tupsan wants to call Naasag. The caller will dial the Operator and request to connect Naasag. The operator dials the party in Naasag. When the call is answered, he connects them using a patch cord. There’s a lamp indicator to show the call is in progress.

As far as I can recall, telephones were installed mostly at gov’t offices, hospital, Police, homes of public officials and key people. Starting from Naasag:

  • Naasag: Coun Pedro Cimacio
  • Yumbing: Pedro Sagrado
  • Agoho: Baloy Sabuga
  • Bug-ong: Leon Balite – Bug-ong, Coun Sesing Salcedo
  • Kuguita: Paulino/Jose Dagondon, Jesus Barlaan, Capt Luis Bollozos Sr

In Publacion, for sure:

  • Municipal Hall (Switchboard), Camiguin Emergency Hospital (near San Nicolas Church), Dept of Public Highways, Dept of Public Works
  • Lt. Gov. Jose Neri, Mayor Antonio Luspo, Judge Ceferino Chan Sr, Antonio Madarieta, Lucio Borromeo, Dr Crisogono Llacuna, Dr Cordero, Judge Lactao

I’m sure there are many more in Publacion. Then, to the east:

  • Balbagon: Coun. Flavio Cabiguin, Coun. Teodulo Abbu
  • Magting: Victor Carillo Sr
  • Tupsan: Chief of Police Kadong Abuzo,  Atty Dodo Borromeo

One thing funny about that system is: anyone can pickup the phone and listen. However, both parties can detect if there’s a third party picking up the phone by a slight drop in volume. And it’s normal because we listen first if the line is free before dialing. Second, we had countless electric shocks when we crank the dial – remember it’s generating 100V!!! There was no long-distance calls but during emergencies, it served very well.

How did I know these details when I was still in grade school? I should know because it was my father, Jose Lim Dagondon, who setup the system upon the request of Lt Gov Seling Neri. It was a pro bono job because my father was still connected with the Dept of Public Highways. His all-around skills of chemistry, physics, mechanics and electronics (the Dagondon Sound System, remember?) inspired me to pursue electronics engineering – and finally to manage the startup operation of the Camiguin Telephone Project/CAMTECO in 1992~1998. Too bad he never witnessed the realization of the modern phone system. Here’s the man … the tallest one.

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About hellocamiguin

Pioneer of the Camiguin Telephone Network
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