Illustration by Carla T. GamalindaIN AN age where e-mails and instant messengers rule, the old-fashioned mail has found a way to survive and remain relevant. Raul Mariano, head of the UST Post Office, knows why.

Despite the many conveniences offered by electronic mail, there are just some things only the good old mail could offer: it can deliver packages, important documents, and money orders, he says.

The UST Post Office, conveniently located at the left wing of the Main Building beside Security Bank, is the place to be for Thomasians looking for such services unavailable in the internet.

Its services are not unlike those offered by more popular companies such as LBC and Western Union, Mariano notes.

“We have been delivering packages, important documents and money orders for many years now. But companies like LBC became well-known because of their various advertisements,” he says.

Apart from delivering letters and packages, the UST Post Office also sends out copies of yearbooks to alumni in their original addresses. It offers Autoload services and the issuance of collector’s item stamps, with Manny Pacquiao and Cory Aquino as the characters.

There are more than 2,000 post offices in the country. But according to the National Statistical Coordination Board, the number of postal stations in the Philippines dropped by 2.9 percent in 2008. In the same year, the mail volume handled by post offices also plummeted by a whopping 14.7 percent.

Clearly, modern technology had a lot to do with this.

But it’s not to say the snail mail would go the way of the old pagers, which were unceremoniously wiped out with the coming of cellular phones.

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“We receive an average of 500 mails and packages a day. We even get around a thousand mails in busy months like February and December when many people send greeting cards and letters,” Mariano says.

It usually takes three to five days before an ordinary mail arrives at its destination; still, the human touch that comes with the letter and the nostalgic feel of sending it the traditional way are what motivate people to stick to the service.

A usual 20-gram mail costs only P7 if delivered within the region. One may send mail faster through the Domestic Express Mail Service (DEMS) which delivers documents or packages the next day. The minimum price is P25.

Mel Lopez, an employee of the UST Post Office, says the DEMS is often reserved for top-priority documents and packages.

“We first ask our customers before they drop their mails. If it contains important documents or valuable packages, we advise them to use DEMS because it has [a] tracking system [so] we can follow its delivery,” he says.

UST was among the first universities to have a post office on campus. It was during the 1970s that the UST Post Office was built at the left wing of the Main Building, which an old canteen used to occupy.

Mariano says having an on-campus post office is more convenient for customers with heavier packages, since they don’t need to go to the main post office.

“It will be really hard to send heavy packages like yearbooks if they still need to go outside UST,” says Mariano, who has been with the UST Post Office for two years now.

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Twice a day, a courier collects the mails addressed outside UST and transfers it to the Manila Central Post Office for delivery.

“We only deliver mails and packages addressed within the University. Someone will collect (and deliver) these mails and packages to (their respective) colleges, departments, or buildings,” says Mariano.

While newly formed private companies offering the same services post a stiff competition, Mariano says they still have the edge in terms of experience and expertise.

“Our postmen have been delivering mails for almost ten years and they already know what they are doing,” he says. “Sometimes, the recipients even befriend the postmen, and that’s our aim—to be in service for the people.”

With the way things are going, the snail mail—and the UST Post Office—are most likely here to stay. Ronalyn M. Umali

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