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.