In Laguna, students trek up mountains to get internet access, even building a hut for shelter when it rains and to sleep when they work late into the night on assignments.
This situation is a far cry from the university life Rosemine Gonzaga, 19, had anticipated. Explaining how the pandemic had thwarted her plans for an independent life in town, Gonzaga said, “I was really excited for college because all my life I’ve been here in the mountains.”
She relies on a scholarship and fears she may lose it if she is unable to keep up with lessons. Still, she is resolved to continue online classes rather than risk infection attending university.
Mark Joseph Andal, 18, from San Juan, Batangas, took a part-time construction job to buy a smartphone for virtual classes and also built a forest shelter to get internet signal.
When the signal fades, Andal picks up his plastic chair to move to another spot, and if it rains, he holds the phone in one hand and an umbrella in the other.