UP Tacloban YouthMappers: 2022 Retrospective
UP Tacloban YouthMappers, the 6th local chapter in the Philippines, was founded in April 2021. At the height of the pandemic, we were only able to gather five students to start the organization, barely reaching the minimum population required to establish a chapter. For a whole year, we never had the chance to meet each other face to face, limiting the activities we could conduct. It was only this September 2022 (start of the Academic Year 2022-2023) that we were able to apply the chapter as an officially recognized student organization within our university. This formal recognition allowed us to introduce YouthMappers to a broader audience and increase our chapter's population from five to over fifty members. It also permitted us to conduct more activities. However, organizing onsite events was almost always off the table due to pandemic restrictions and the university still being in a remote setup. Hence, we first focused on developing our members' basic skills through online training, activities, and workshops.
MAPA-Bulig is one of the major online activities we conducted. It is a public event held annually to celebrate GIS Day with several skill-building activities, such as OSM workshops and mapathons. It aims to generate more interest towards open mapping and contribute to developing OSM data in our community. This event also served as an avenue for expanding the YouthMappers network with the support of our Regional Ambassador, Ms. Feye Andal. Since MAPA-Bulig's first iteration in 2021, some of the students from other universities who participated in the event have already established their chapters: the EVSU Tacloban YouthMappers and the Southern Leyte State U YouthMappers.
Another engaging activity we had for the year was the Drone and Field Mapping Training. This activity was organized by OSM Philippines (Feye Andal, Leigh Lunas, and Mikko Tamura) and was conducted at UP Tacloban with our YouthMappers chapter as its partner. It aimed to boost data quality by capacitating local OSM communities in the Philippines. Along with the organization's members, the training was also attended by students from other universities and professionals of different specializations. Therefore, this not only served as a skill-building activity but also became an opportunity for us to forge collaborations between this diverse set of people for future mapping endeavors.
Yet another noteworthy part of the year was when we attended the Pista ng Mapa x State of the Map Asia 2022. As a YouthMappers chapter with no members under any geography-related degree program, we needed more knowledge about the vastness of the mapping field. Hence, attending the conference was an enlightening experience, to say the least. We were introduced to different applications of mapping, the tools we can use, and existing mapping initiatives directed toward community development. All the presentations and activities at the conference will serve as an inspiration to the future of our organization. Our active participation also helped us get to know other YouthMappers chapters, both local and international. As a starting organization, we needed that experience to understand what was possible, gain ideas for future projects, and make connections within a larger community.
It was a fruitful year of laying foundations in our knowledge, skills, and experience. This helped us inspire more students, resulting in our chapter's unique element: the diversity of our members. Having students from different degree programs helps create a multidisciplinary view towards mapping and will enable us to provide extensive and inclusive contributions to the community. The greatest impact we achieved so far was establishing an organization that advocates mapping and its power. This was only possible thanks to the organization's members, our advisers, the university, and especially Ms. Feye Andal for her continuous support and guidance. For the year 2023, we plan to continue developing the core capacity of our chapter by continuously training our members, all while contributing to the community.
About the Authors
Sophia is a BS in Applied Mathematics student, while Joshua is a BS in Computer Science student; both studying at the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College. They are founding members of UP Tacloban YouthMappers, and are currently serving as officers of the organization.