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YouthMappers hosts Participatory GIS Workshop in Manila, Philippines


💡 It all started with a chat that lit a spark – Dr. Brent McCusker's idea about bringing a participatory GIS (PGIS) workshop to Manila when we were at the State of the Map US last June 2023. His excitement was contagious, and suddenly, we were cooking up plans to shake things up in our local YouthMappers community in the Philippines. 🇵🇭

With Dr. Brent McCusker, one of the co-founders of YouthMappers, and main trainer of PGIS

As we brainstormed, I couldn't help but see the opportunity to make it even more impactful. The goal? Generate enthusiasm and encourage collaborations among the active local chapters in Metro Manila, while underscoring the significance of OpenStreetMap and participatory GIS. I suggested a two-leg workshop to Dr. Brent, kicking off in Alabang and concluding the journey in Diliman with three university chapters on board. And he enthusiastically embraced the idea. We’ve been coordinating this workshop since August of last year, and admittedly, it was quite a challenge. Coordinating among four universities, each with its requirements and approval processes, added complexity to organizing this activity within their campuses.

PGIS Alabang

The first leg at FEU Alabang was a wild ride. 🎢 We dived into OpenStreetMap data, Kobo Collect for data collection, tips for asking the right questions for surveying, ethical standards in participatory GIS, data visualization, and the basics of QGIS. This marked a significant moment as it was the first time Dr. Brent covered a topic on QGIS in his PGIS training. Typically limited to a two-day format until data visualization, this Metro Manila workshop was a guinea pig, pushing boundaries and exploring new horizons.

The members of FEU Alabang - ACM Student Chapter

Additionally, it is noteworthy that not all students possessed prior GIS experience, making this training valuable as it catered to individuals at various skill levels. Moreover, recognizing the participants as Software Engineering students, we tailored examples to software technologies, ensuring content relevance and sustained interest. Elevating the excitement, we ensured participant engagement through Kahoot sessions with enticing prizes following each morning and afternoon sessions. The vibe was electric; you could tell we were onto something big. 🏆

PGIS Diliman

Managing the second leg at UP Diliman was tough due to uncertainties and the task of aligning schedules across three universities. It was especially challenging as each university follows a different academic calendar. Despite these difficulties, we successfully found a way to ensure everyone could attend. With a whopping 55 students hailing from three universities—FEU Tech with their Data Science majors, Adamson's squad of Electronics Engineering students, and the Geography majors from UP Diliman—the diversity was thrilling. Achieving coherence amidst this diversity was also challenging, requiring careful coordination and communication.

Participants from the PGIS Diliman leg

Yet, as the days passed, the initial nerves became a shared excitement. What surprised us was that the mix of students wasn’t a challenge at all; it made our workshop special. It was like putting together a good mixtape – everyone brought something unique, and we created a vibe of shared learning. 👐🏻

Looking back, the nerve-wracking anticipation was the spice that made the workshop sessions memorable. The success of the second leg showed how resilient and collaborative the students were. We also found that mixing students in seating arrangements was a good strategy to help them get to know students from other universities. 🤝

Reflecting on it, I’m personally grateful to Dr. Brent and YouthMappers for choosing Philippines as the workshop’s destination. It made me feel like a student again, learning so much during Dr. Brent’s sessions and gaining insights from the students I was teaching the technical parts to. This opportunity allowed me to appreciate the privilege of assisting Dr. Brent, reconnecting with students, and encouraging collaboration among the workshop participants. 🙏🏽

🌻 A big shout-out to the representatives from each university (Aira Sindayen and Lady Casilang from FEU-Tech, Dr. Mark Purio from Adamson University YouthMappers, Leonil Llagas from UP Resilience Institute YouthMappers, and Ranen Enrique from FEU Alabang ACM Chapter) for their hard work and patience in organizing this workshop. And of course, immense gratitude to my home chapter, UPRI YouthMappers, for all the support they provided during the workshop in UP Diliman. It truly was a collaborative effort that made this workshop in the Philippines so rewarding. 🌻