- Feye Andal
A month ago, Pista ng Mapa (PnM) and State of the Map Asia 2022 (SotMA) was held in Legazpi City, Albay. It was the first time we organized a face-to-face conference since the pandemic. For the past two years, we have been conducting Pista ng Mapa online since it was impossible to arrange an in-person conference given the risks of the pandemic.
It is with no doubt that the participants had loads of fun, and the memories still linger on. But what are the secrets behind the success of Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia 2022?
Joining the core organizing team - why and how?
My interest in joining the local organizing team came from attending FOSS4G 2017 in Boston, USA, State of the Map 2019 in Heidelberg, Germany, and the 2020-2021 Pista ng Mapa (online). And having experienced the back-to-back State of the Map and FOSS4G conferences in Florence last August, my interest skyrocketed, and I swore to give the best conference experiences (if not similar 😉) to the PnM x SotMA participants.
I particularly braved to volunteer as the Programs Coordinator. I was glad that the Pista ng Mapa core organizing team agreed to have me as the lead of the Programs team. As a social scientist, I want to ensure that the presentations range not only on the technical aspects but also on governance sessions, community talks, and practical applications related to open mapping. Personally, I do not like attending heavy technical conferences, where first-timers could feel intimidated and conscious, especially when they do not have enough specialized experience and skills regarding the topics of the conference. Been there, done that. 🙅
The secret/s behind the success of Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia 2022
The success of Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia 2022 came from each member of the local organizing team having a distinctive yet complementary role. Each of the volunteers has talent in their way, but it is the chemistry the team has that works best. Throughout the planning process and preparations, the core organizers of PnM x SoTMA and the local volunteers from Geodetic Engineers of the Philippines Inc. Bicol University Student Chapter, a Philippine YouthMappers chapter, have been nothing but supportive, persevering, and hands-on. 🙏
But, like any other conferences that involve gathering a huge number of local and international delegates, the organizing team also went through hiccups and mishaps. As co-organizer, we recognized that jumping through hoops was as important as celebrating the success of organizing the event.
It's our first time working altogether, and it’s not easy to meet the needs of a diverse group of people with sometimes opposing working styles, but providing options always helps. Compromise may be required among the team when preferences exactly don’t match up. But, having great and strong leadership helped build rapport and cooperation among the group. I can confidently say that both the core and the local organizing team have vital leadership skills that contributed to the success of organizing the conferences. I firmly believe that when leaders lead by example and demonstrate high standards, the members are likely to follow and get inspired. After all, we have the shared mindset – to give the participants the best Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia 2022 experience. ♥️
I am grateful to have worked with the most passionate and dedicated members of the open mapping community: Leigh, Ben, RK, and Mikko, who were also the lead organizers of PnM x SoTMA 2022. One of their best traits is creating an environment where everyone can thrive, have fun, and be creative. I remember Leigh saying, “Alalay lang tayo sa isa’t isa” every morning at our briefing session, reminding us that we can overcome anything by having each other’s backs. Ben would also remind us to enjoy still and have fun at the conference, despite being busy as organizers. I commend Mikko for always sharing his creative and innovative ideas with us (that usually come in clutch!). Fun fact: During the workshop day, the internet connection was slow at the main hall (BUCENG Gymnasium), so conducting a mapathon was nearly impossible. He pulled off a fantastic amazing race as an alternative activity to the mapathon. And this became the most memorable and exciting activity during PnM x SotMA. 🙌
Although the team faced complicated problems and challenges, the essentials set the tone for a successful conference – trust, collaboration, commitment, appreciation, purpose, and creativity. We may have experienced hundreds of issues, from securing a university partner to losing a significant sponsor, yet we still handled them with grace. We kept our heads high, all thanks to the patience and passion of the local organizing team.
I also want to give utmost appreciation to the participants who celebrated Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia with us. Without them, the conference would not have been as festive and successful as it was. It was fascinating to see the chemistry and camaraderie shared among the participants.
What’s next for Pista ng Mapa?
During the second day of Pista ng Mapa, the core organizers of Pista ng Mapa 2022 hosted a self-organized session about Pista ng Mapa 2023. We shared our plans on seeking hosts for the next Pista ng Mapa through a bidding process, similar to the international State of the Map.
The bidding process will officially begin by late-January 2023 and the vetting process will be held in the first quarter of 2023. The selected host will have at least five months to prepare for the next Pista ng Mapa. Several local YouthMappers chapters have already expressed their interest in hosting Pista ng Mapa 2023. But who will succeed? 🤔
We are still yet to announce the bidding process at https://pistangmapa.org, so stay tuned!
📺 In case you missed Pista ng Mapa and State of the Map Asia 2022, you may watch the highlights here.
📸 Photo credits to SBCreatives and the volunteers of the Geodetic Engineers of the Philippines Inc. Bicol University Student Chapter for the photos