Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2012: gDays, DevFests and Building GBG

My life changed when I moved to Singapore. I was very much afraid of my new role since I was scared I might not perform well. My scope effectively grew to cover the emerging markets in Asia. I told myself that I had the experience and know-how, I just needed to figure out how to do it in other markets across the region.

One of my MBA professors told us once that the best way to start when you need to do something is to target the three F's. Three F's = family, friends and fools. My family is scattered across the world, but they didn't really know anyone who would be interested in the communities I was tasked to build. I figured that it would be best to start with those who were around me and willing to help - my friends. I started with my brother and sister scouts to help find passionate individuals who were willing to help others.

This is how I find the first set of GBG managers -- Yansen, Vanessa, Marcus and Pom. They led the first GBGs in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. Both Ola and I were amazed with the fast growth of GBGs and by May that year we were able to host our very first GBG SEA Summit with representatives from the first four countries plus Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Brunei. It was also during this summit that I first met Daniel Franc (he founded the first GDG in the world, just one week ahead of the Philippines).

GBG Jakarta workshop.

Marcus during the first GBG meetup in Malaysia.

The first GBG Philippines meet-up.

After the summit I busied myself with preparing for the gDays. To learn more bout how to run it I was sent to gMaroc in Morocco. I was the only person in the audience that did not speak French or Arabic. Little did I know that Sebastian was talking about me during his keynote. Good thing the participant beside me translated what he was saying (that I was there so I could learn from the event and bring it to Asia). I was supposed to attend the event in Egypt but the embassy did not grant me a visa since they said they were advised by my government not to send any more Filipinos there (I think there was trouble during that time).

It was a daunting task, good thing though that my manager told me to use the best agency we had at that time to help organize the events. With help from Jasmine (Masterplan) and Grace (who I always kidded was the BackUp Plan hehe), we embarked on a journey to reach entrepreneurs and developers through gPhilippines, gMalaysia, gIndonesia and gThailand.

gPhilippines, August 2012, with then Usec. Manolo Quezon as keynote speaker.

gMalaysia, September 2012 with David McLaughlin who came all the way from MTV.

The Indonesian GSAs did a Gangnam Style flash mob at gIndonesia, October 2012.

Thai style Gangnam Style flash mob by the Thai GSAs, October 2012.

And in-between the gDays I run 11 DevFests across the region since I became the caretaker of the GDGs too. 

Day 2 of gPhilippines was DevFest. My then VP, Nelson Mattos, did the keynote.

Day 2 of gIndonesia was DevFest Jakarta.

Day 2 of gMalaysia was DevFest KL.

Day 2 of gThailand was DevFest Bangkok.

I also had the privilege to participate in the first GSA summit as a speaker. I was thrilled to meet so many passionate students at the office. Eventually we took the program under our wing.

My 20% Time

It was in 2012 that I found the right formula for scaling the mapUps. The Map Maker team supported my quest and I was given some funding to run 3 large summits in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to teach more users how to map. The summits were only made possible with the help of the gems in the community, Lakan (my college buddy who helped for the Baguio summit), Anne (who helped for Bacolod) and Avel (for GenSan). With help from the Department of Tourism the community organized 93 mapUps across the country. I was really amazed with how much people wanted to help.

Luzon summit.

Visayas summit with Donya Ann (haha).

Mindanao summit.

The updated maps really helped a lot in making it easier to pin shelters whenever there was a typhoon. By year-end we made a lot of progress in crisis response. PCDSPO took the lead in publishing crisis response pages whenever there was a typhoon which allowed me to focus more on improving the maps and work on the crisis map whenever it was needed.

The PCDSPO team who I worked with for crisis response.

Looking back I am wondering where all the energy I had came from (haha). My Mom always complained that I was too busy and not getting any rest. The magic though came from the community. They inspired me to do better and to do more. The year also blessed me with many new friends across the globe and I am thankful for all the help that year from colleagues, the community, agencies and the endless support from my family. I really prayed hard that I would do well and be able to fulfill the tasks that were given to me.

By end of the year though I decided that my priority was to have better health so I could have a better quality of life. My body's blood flow had gone down to 30% which meant that I had to get the valve in my heart fixed so I could live longer. My former managers really pushed to move me to Singapore because they knew that I would eventually need surgery. I will forever be grateful to the three J's -- Julian, James and Juergen for saving my life.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Halfway to Ten: Ending the First Part of the Journey

A gazillion things happened in 2011, several launches was done but more importantly it was decided that a local office would be opened. This meant that my mission was complete and I had to find a new role. It was both exhilarating and sad. I was ecstatic that I completed my mission, but I wasn't sure if there was another role I would fit into.

I spent the first half of the year doing a lot of lectures/workshops for businesses, attending GDG events. I was thrilled though when I was invited to attend the first geo community summit in Singapore. I was tasked to present the achievements of the local mapping community together with the top mappers in the Philippines. I was so happy to be in another country together with the top mappers and community leads.

Team Philippines at the Geo Summit. 

Things got more exciting though mid-year as I had to work on some back-end requirements for the planned launches that year. It was one of the most difficult tasks I had to complete and I think I utilized every experience I had from the time I started working to make things work. I also wanted to launch before another Southeast Asian country, so I really worked hard to reach targets. It was all worth it though.

With my Pinoy sisters Rachel and Cathy. 

Photoboothing with my then manager, Julian Persaud, plus Deborah Nga and Ann Lavin.

YouTube World View with President Aquino.

Did you know that the Philippines was the first country in the world that generated #1 market share for Google Chrome? It was essentially through word of mouth that this happened. Chrome just made surfing the internet much faster and so people preferred to use it. Because of this we were included in the first batch of countries that launched the Google Chrome Webstore. This meant we were one of the few countries that had local apps launched (i.e. ABS-CBN, Pinoytuner etc.).

And before the year ended Google Maps was launched. It was over-shadowed though by the other launches, but this essentially completed my to-do list. It was serendipity though that led me to my new role as my manager, James, always looked after my well-being. He met by chance my future manager, Juergen, in Jakarta. Juergen then was looking for a person who could start communities in the region. James knew that doing community development was in my heart and recommended me. He immediately made arrangements for me to speak with Juergen. What I thought was just a conversation was apparently my first interview. After a few more interviews my new role was just waiting for me... in Singapore.

My Pinoy friends, Christine, Cherry, Lalen and Divee.

At the newly opened office when I moved. 

Also got to attend the YouTube Singapore launch.

I moved to Singapore in mid-October and at that time I was in the middle of the launches happening in the Philippines. Juergen though couldn't wait for me to finish my work for the Philippines and insisted I start immediately, so I basically had 2 jobs overlapping for about 2 months (well with all the inquiries I still get until today my original job never really ended). I shuttled back and forth between Manila and Singapore like I would just commute between QC and Paranaque hehe.

No rest though for the weary because by December I launched my first community outside the Philippines -- GBG Jakarta. I was lucky to be a country scout because it meant I had brother and sister scouts in other countries I could get help from for my next projects.

And so ended my first five years in Google. I never had the chance to write about it five years ago because I transitioned so fast to my new role I had no time to sit down and blog. Looking back, my first five years seem like I was all over the place, but it was because I had to establish local relations and prove that there was opportunity in my country. I think I managed it well because it made it easy for the teams coming in to reach out to the right people as the more mature programs were brought in the country.

Christmas party at the museum, we had to come and dress like we were part of the museum. 

It was an awesome first five years. I learned a lot, met a gazillion people, garnered a lot of new skills, but what many people don't know is to this day I'm still overwhelmed with the job. I just always pray and ask help from God to guide me every single day in everything I do. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

10 days to 10: Empowering the Community in 2010

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, how I viewed things changed after Typhoon Ondoy. I realized then that my work wasn't just about doing research, conducting trainings, opening doors, running events, but my work could actually make an impact. I also learned a lot from the community (the GTUGs finally became official then). I realized that there are many people out there who are very much willing to help others, they just needed a way to contribute and be empowered.

So I thought about it.

And thought about it more.

I knew that having good maps is very important and that it could play an important role. Elections was coming up and being a Political Science degree holder I started to think of a way we can help out. It was the first time we were going to have automated elections and I realized that reducing the number of precincts by a third would be pretty chaotic. With the awesome engineer, Dan Delima, we hatched "Find Your Precinct" to make it easy for a voter to find their updated precinct on a map. Volunteers from all over the country helped pin the precinct locations on the app that Dan created.

It took me 5 hours in line before I was able to vote and there was a lot of voters who were turned away because they did not know that their precinct was moved to another location (precincts were clustered and due to clustering some were re-located to another school/covered court). There was good value with the project and this was eventually implemented in other countries too. (We did much better though in the 2013 round since the map had better coverage.)

After the elections I realized that creating bite-sized programs for the community was a great way to engage people who wanted to help and make an impact as well. I had very limited budget then and had to do everything by myself (yes, I was the one packing and sending shirts by courier for the communities that did precinct mapping activities), but it was a very good exercise for me to do because I intimately learned the process.

Socckskargen Bloggers led one of the precinct mapping activities.

Our efforts did not go unnoticed. Little by little we got more visits and resources. With help from the GTUG (now GEG) we were able to host the second DevFest together with Globe and Ayala TBI. I was way better than the first time and a lot more Filipino developers started to share apps they have created using Google APIs. Interest for developing Android apps also grew that year with the GTUG hosting a number of Android events. [Photos]

The original GTUG (GDG) managers - Pogz, Jomar and Brian.

Speakers and volunteers of Devfest Manila 2010

We also managed to do a developer event in Cebu together with Christine and Dan. We were very thankful that University of the Philippines in Cebu hosted the developer event especially since it was the first developer outreach we did outside of Metro Manila.

[Must find photos from Cebu dev event...]

I did a myriad of things that year, establishing relations with the business sector, government and I remember I also managed to squeeze in time to host the first education event. My alma mater hosted it. Pogz and I slaved away for many weeks to ensure that the event would be successful. I was very nervous because just a few days before the event PNoy announced that it was going to be a holiday. Our student volunteers did not show up so Miguel had to step up and be the only student volunteer. The holiday though proved to be a lucky day for us because more participants showed up.

Remember this Galvin? :)

The year was a turning point for me. I realized that I had to work on creating more programs that would empower communities. Early that year the Philippines won the first Global Google Mapping contest with the huge contribution of Wayne Manuel for Google Map Maker. The win instigated me to think about ways to get more people to map. I knew it would be very important especially for times when we have typhoons. I took it on as a 20% time project and I was blessed to have been supported by many colleagues who thought my idea would be very useful. 

I learned a lot in 2010 and the experiences I had since 2006 came into fruition in 2011. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2 weeks to 10: 2009 and Typhoon Ondoy

In September 2009 Typhoon Ondoy brought so much rains and caused so much flooding. I almost drowned on that fateful day and I was only able to save my desktop. Everything else I had went under water. A few hours after I was rescued from the basement I was in the kitchen with my Dad. I started to cry and he asked me, "Why are you crying? Are you crying because you lost all your stuff? They are just things and can be replaced." My Dad had his "sermon face" on so I immediately snapped out of feeling depressed. I immediately started to plan what to do the next day.

Two thousand nine proved to be a very memorable year. I struggled for half a year due to my illness so my activities tapered off. It took a miracle for me to pull through and my Singaporean cardiologist marveled at how I recovered (there is no known cure for heart failure). Aside from healing it took a lot of love and prayers for me to get well and be back to my usual self. Despite my messed up state Jay proposed to me and we tied the knot later that year.

I mentioned in my previous post that Map Maker influenced my work a lot. In mid-2009 I was tasked to launch the mapup party kit. This was a program where you could gather friends to map your area (or you can do it on your own). Having good maps is very important and this proved to be very useful later that year when Typhoon Ondoy happened.

With Wayne, Mang Dante and Doc Leonel.

The next day we luckily had electricity already and I went to the mall to get a wifi dongle and a few clothes (everything was wet!). When I set up my desktop I immediately sent an email to my new manager (Julian Persuad) to let him know that I would probably be slow to respond because of the crisis back home. I remember being a bit antsy then because he was set to start in the Singapore office the next day (so I was technically in-between managers that weekend). Jules was one of the best managers I ever had.

Things went into motion then and a help page was set-up. I was asked by MLQ (and many others) to help house map info into one crisis map, so with help from Dan Delima (one of the Filipino engineers in Tokyo then) we managed to gather info into one crisis map. We also got volunteers to help gather and map information. I realized though that the local map didn't have much information yet so I started thinking of a way to get more people to contribute to the map.

A month after the crisis I had to put two things in hyper gear -- implementing the business stimulus program and planning for my wedding. Went around the country teacher entrepreneurs how to use Adwords and working with STI to get students to create websites for businesses. It both went well and my wedding had a bit of something from across the Philippines. During those trips I also made sure to meet blogger communities and friends across the country.

In 2009 the developer community also started to gain interest in Android and we had our first meetup about it.

And we had a developers workshop with Globe at the Ayala TechnoHub.

IMMAP started to become active that year.

One of the IMMAP meetings.

2009 changed my perspective a lot. It was when I realized that I could do so much more to make what I do make a bigger impact and be more valuable for others. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

16 days to 10: 2008, When I Fell in Love with Maps and the First DevFest

I continued my work from 2007 into 2008. Juggling between education and business sector activities. There were two huge things in 2008 that were notable. The launch of Google Map Maker (your story on getting engaged in Palawan is unforgettable Chuck) and the first ever DevFest. I learned a lot from these two activities. From the launch I realized I needed to acquire more PR skills (aside from hiding from the press which is an important skill too). And better event management skills from running the DevFest.

One of the things I put on my wish list was to get Maps launched in my country. The map though was bare and I didn't know then that there was a platform that would allow users to contribute their local knowledge. I have also always wanted to avenge myself from flunking my 4th grade Philippine map exam (and I honestly have a very bad sense of direction). It wouldn't be until 2009 though until my interest in maps started as a 20% project (more of that story on my 2009 summary). The launch of Map Maker influenced my work a lot.

The growth of the developer community did not go unnoticed. I was lucky to have met the Pinoys in Mountain View. They gave me a warm welcome during my trips. Resources were hard to come by in my part of the world, but the Pinoys always gave a helping hand. One of them is Christine who made it possible to bring the DevFest to the Philippines. With help from UP, UP computer science students, both telcos (Smart and Globe), Buddy Gancenia (video coverage) and friends who volunteered we managed to host the first DevFest in the Philippines.

With DevFest speakers (and this is where I met Vinny!).

DevFest volunteers with the speakers.

Blue and Sherwin were both with Globe then.

UP computer science students. Special thanks to Mikko for leading the charge!

Coy, my vlogging partner, was still a student back then. Miss you partner.
(I think this is a rare event that both Globe and Smart supported.)

And the fun Thriller dance the speakers did.

It was no easy feat to host this event and I learned a lot from hosting this event (it's 2016 and providing enough internet in local events is still hard). It was really hard for me I was hospitalized right after the event due to pneumonia and heart failure. I picked up the worst strain of pneumonia one could get (the legionnaire's one) and it took a full year for me to recover from it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

18 days to 10: The Struggle to Love Public Speaking and Starting Communities

One of the things I did not anticipate was the need to speak in public. My Dad and my Kuya are good at it, but for me I'd rather stay behind the scenes as much as possible. I thought my job would only require me to do research, consultation, do some meetings, maybe some trainings. I told myself though that I would learn a new skill in every job. I never shied away from work even though I knew it would be difficult. I had once tried to get out of managing sales people, but my boss said I could do it. We achieved the highest sales at that time (selling online ads in 2004 was unheard of then). Since then I never said no to any challenge.

So in 2007 I learned how to quell my nervousness and covered speaking engagements too. I kept a diary of all these engagements from 2006-2011 and there was a time I had an audience of 12,000 students in one day. It was crazy, but I think it would make my MBA professor proud that I had finally gotten over my "shyness". I still don't like speaking in public though and try to get out of it as much as I could (yes, yes I know it's 2016 already).

My work focus changed every quarter and that year I covered tools for education and so started my long-winded love affair with the education department (it's still ongoing) and many, many schools. I had to learn fast and learn on my own. This assignment forced me to utilize my sales, marketing, technical and creative skills to get schools to sign-up on a free platform with very little support. I managed to deliver the goal with help from my alma mater.

Talk at DLSU Computer Science event.

Mhel Garrido's famous opening dance at STI NYC.

I always ask for help though when needed and I was lucky that the developer community adopted me and taught me what I needed to learn. At that time I had very little knowledge about open source tools. The PM at that time from Mountain View gladly called me up and gave me a full overview of what open source was (thanks Leslie Hawthorne!). My "practicum" came in the form of a challenge from the dev community -- use only open source tools (i.e. OpenOffice) after work and culminate this activity by transforming a Windows PC into an Ubuntu unit.

Blogger friends in Davao.

Blogger friends in Manila (well Drew is from Davao) at SEMCON 2007.

Later that year I had the opportunity to give back to the community. Two Fil-Am engineers from headquarters volunteered their time to come home and do a training on dev tools. We were planning to meet only 20 developers, but I got busy and was really surprised and got 200 sign-ups for the "small event". I called for help and good thing Derek Callow (the SEA marketing manager) indulged and gave me some budget to host a proper event. It was a huge event and I survived with help from my blogger friends and the very kind people from AIM.

The dev event became a momentous occasion because we agreed that we all needed to keep in touch and let the knowledge flow easily. We then started a help group which was the beginning of the Google Developer Group in the Philippines (called GTUG back then). It's the second chapter founder globally and the first in Asia. The community flourished with help of local dev companies like O&B, CodeFlux and developers who devoted their time and knowledge for other developers to learn (Migs Paraz, Jerome Gotangco, Brian Tan Seng, Pogz Ortile, Jomar Tigcal and many others who I nagged to help).

I spent a lot of time that year with communities. I learned a lot about the market and the different segments of the industry. I also got to spend time with the business community and I remember joining a few exhibits where folks from the community would help me with the booth since I would cover ingress to egress and everything in-between. That's how I had actually met Chelle (E-Services Philippines, February 15-16, 2007) and now she's the one taking care of all the dev communities.

20th AdCon in Subic with Derek, Lianne and Rachel.

With Digitalfilipino friends at Chocolate Kiss.

And I spent time with the bloggers community too. 

2007 Blog Awards

Blogger Food Fests (miss you AJ!).

Back when I could do jump shots (Photo from Markku).

With Mommy bloggers Noemi and Tita Dine.

2007 was a crazy year spent doing a lot of trainings/speaking engagements and establishing relations. A key takeaway I have from this year are the friendships I had formed. A lot of those I met during this year remain my friends until today and most of them formed the foundation of the communities I eventually formed. I always see myself just as a conduit to help others learn more.