Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Philippine Mapping Advocates in Feature - a 100th post special tribute to some of the people behind the maps we use.

Are you using Philippine maps to help you plan your travels? Or probably have used a GPS before and got lost along the way and had to use it so you can find your way to your destination or probably have to find your way back home? On Schadow1 Expeditions' 100th post, we will be paying tribute to some of the people who continue to devote their time and effort without any conditions to ensure that we have a reliable and precise map of the country. Read on and let us meet them.

Maps have always been important to a society. As it can be used for various reasons and instances. It can be used as a navigation assistance for drivers to help them reach their destinations without getting lost; have travelers plan their trips or simply give them an idea on the place they will go to. Mountaineers, trekkers and hikers very much depend on maps especially if local guides are not available to help them find their way through the wilderness. People in the government use it for traffic management and infrastructure planning. The most important of all, the mapping data is also used for disaster risk prevention and emergency responses during the height of a calamity. That is how important our map is.

It is the right time to meet some of the people behind the maps you use. The mapping data did not just surface out of nowhere. It came from people who devoted their time and money to ensure that we have an accurate Philippine map.

The following people are arranged in no particular order.

Rem Zamora - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Rem Zamora

Philippines is a very beautiful country. It is our country and we should be proud of it. Explore and contribute data so that others may discover it as well. However be a responsible traveler/ explorer/ road tripper/ mountaineer/ tourist. LNT. So that others may enjoy the beauty of our country as well.  - Rem

Rem has been mapping the country since 2002 when digital maps of the Philippines are not yet available anywhere. He started mapping using a Magellan SportTrak GPS by adding waypoints (in layman's term, a location) in different parts of the Philippines. May it be a tourism area, hotel, or favorite restaurants. Back then, he was also into motorcycle leisure riding with a Vespa which gives him the capability to go to different parts of the Philippines and map it.

His first mapping data was from his own backyard in Cavite and in Surigao when he was first assigned there for his work.

The data he obtained from mapping the areas he has been to has been first contributed to Waypoints.PH. Presently, his mapping data is also contributed to Openstreetmap Philippines, RoadGuide Philippines, Google Maps, and Waze.

Rem Zamora is a photojournalist, currently working for ABS-CBN News and is mapping while covering news and documenting stories of people in his photos. You may visit his Google Plus profile here +rem zamora  for more info about his work and photography.

Tutubi - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature

Keep on exploring the Philippines, don't be afraid to get lost, and leave the trail on the map, so others won't get lost. The Philippines is such a great country with diverse selection of destinations: explore, blog, share, map! - Tutubi

Tutubi, as he would like to be called, would like to remain anonymous on cyberspace. He is a backpacker and has been traveling the Philippines, Asia and beyond for years. He is a member of Waypoints.PH, a waypoint repository in the Philippines for a long time. It is only about 3 years ago that he started to be enticed with mapping the Philippines when he got his first GPS, a Garmin Nuvi 1300 to which he recorded GPS traces and contribute it to Openstreetmap Philippines.

His first mapping data was along Makati and Quezon City, as well on his/her hometown in Paete, Laguna. Mapping the Philippines was a result of "wanderlust".

His passion for mapping in Openstreetmap was fueled by fixing route errors while he use the map in his GPS as he drives primarily along Quezon City, Manila, Pasig, San Juan, and Mandaluyong.

Tutubi is an Electronics and Communications Engineer and is now working in Information Security industry for a financial service company in Makati. He is also a travel blogger for Backpacking Philippines, Asia and Beyond to which he also shares his budget travel adventures on his famous travel blog. Other blogs he owns includes Paetechie, an information security blog of a techie traveler.

Ed Garcia - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Edmundo Garcia

There is much fulfilment in mapping.  You get to show the interesting places and where they are and how to get there.  For most people, just knowing where a destination is and how to get there spells the difference between having a pleasure trip and a waste of time.  That is what WaypointsDotPH is all about. - Ed

Ed has been mapping the country since 2001 and he is the man behind WaypointsDotPH, the first website to collect waypoints and GPS traces of the Philippines that brought life to the first online database of Philippine mapping data. Later on, some of the data in his site has been donated to Openstreetmap Philippines.

His first mapping data was in Northern Luzon, primarily the alternate route to Baguio and also the route to Anilao in Batangas.

From contributing the data from his travels in his own website, he also contributes them too at Openstreetmap Philippines.

Aside from being a mapping advocate, Ed is a PADI Divemaster and a consultant for applications and web development in his own consultancy firm.

RoadGuide logo by Schadow1 Expeditions

Don't Get Lost!  - Jan

Jan could no longer remember when was the first time he mapped for the Philippines. He could just barely remember that it started when a friend of his had a GPS to which it saved a lot of tracks around the country in "track-back mode" to which he could not save them all at the same time in the device. He just googled "How to make maps" out of curiosity and that started everything. His mapping advocacy happened even before he had GPS.

The curiosity has paved way to him joining WaypointsDotPH and eventually creating a map and a group that brought life to a forum that was created officially on December 2008 which is RoadGuide.ph

He is the man behind RoadGuide.PH, which is a group of mapping advocates contributing data to create a map of the Philippines suited for Garmin GPS Devices. The contributor's version is downloadable to active mapping contributors.

His first mapping data was in Doomsville, Negros Oriental

Aside from being busy for RoadGuide Philippines, he is a seaman on crude oil carriers.

Jun Bolo - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Dr. Jun Bolo

Jun's mapping interest was poked by a friend when he learned that he can use GPS on his smartphone way back 2009. He was referred to RoadGuide.PH from then and started to contribute data to it.

His main goal back then was to put Sorsogon in the map as it is still empty during that time. That was his first mapping data contribution.

He was been bitten by the travel bug and as he acquired his first GPS unit, he started tracing and mapping even more.

He is currently one of the moderators in RoadGuide; collecting the data contributed by other contributors to which he adds them up in the final GPS map sent out to distribution for contributors' use.

Aside from being active in mapping, he is a physician in one of the hospitals in his hometown, Sorsogon.

Noriel Lubrico - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Noriel Lubrico

Let us continue to provide the country with a reliable and accurate map, be it for navigation and other purposes, as the benefit of having a good map is simply enormous. I sincerely believe that this is one of the most rewarding hobbies that a person can have, knowing that one became a part of building a map that many will find useful in their travels, while at the same time having fun exploring unchartered territoties. And best of all, we give it for free! - Noriel

It was the last quarter of 2008 when he started his interest in mapping, particularly in navigation maps. It started when Noriel went to Singapore with his family of September of that same year when a friend of his bought a car and used a navigation device and he was amazed how the device guided them to their destination with the voice prompts and real-time guidance. From then, he was wondering if it will work in the Philippines. This enabled him to buy a Garmin GPS even without the presence of a map. He researched on how to create a map from scratch.

He was able to create his first Garmin GPS-compatible map of Batangas City by December of 2008 and he was excited to see how the map he created guided him from to a hotel in the same city.

Noriel is contributing the mapping data at Roadguide.PH after he has learned about the group a few weeks before he was able to complete his own map version. Which is during that time, RG is also just getting started.

He is one of the moderators of RoadGuide and is involved in improving the map by processing contributions for inclusion in the next versions. He is also involved in administration when Jan, (RoadGuide's founder) is not around.

Noriel is a process operator in an oil refinery in Batangas to which he does control room work through monitoring different parameters and making the necessary adjustments to ensure the refinery operates safely and optimally at all times.

Pol Maleniza - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
 Pol Maleniza

To Philippine travelers,  a GPS map is available for free at RoadGuide. And to mapping advocates, let us keep mapping until the whole Philippine archipelago is covered. This will help our country in tourism and other government activities. - Pol

Pol is a Civil Engineer, currently working at JGC Philippines, Inc., an engineering company which engages in design and construction of oil and gas facilities.

He was first introduced in mapping the Philippines last February 2009 as soon as he bought this first GPS device from a fellow mapping advocate. To which his first contribution to RoadGuide are somewhere in the Pasig-Cainta area.

He is currently one of the moderators in RoadGuide to which his primary responsibility is to implement the rules of its forum, help other contributors of RG on mapping, and also to process contributions of the mapping advocates.

Maning Sambale - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Maning Sambale

Please use OSM when you travel and also contribute to the project. - Maning

Maning is a mapping advocate since 2006 to which it was his work that called him to be one. He was working back then in a biodiversity project somewhere in a national park in the Sierra Madre mountains (ref). The GPS device he used during that time is very bulky and the GIS software used is proprietary.

He has been contributing the mapping data to Openstreetmap Philippines eversince and continues to do so. Maning's first contributed data to OSM-PH  somewhere in Marikina,  and also at Rodriguez, Rizal as part of an expedition. There were other contributions from a mapping trip in Northern Luzon but was considered "too primitive" to be useful due to the old online map editor.

His choice on contributing to Openstreetmap is due to being an "open data" compared to other consortia. He has explained it further in his blog. He is also the Vice President of Openstreetmap Philippines.

Maning is currently providing geospatial support to many of the research and capacity building activities using free and open source geospatial software in a research institute, Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC). The institute works in collaboration with local government units, local communities, and academic institutions "by building people's capacities to collectively manage and plan towards an improvement of their way of life through a more responsive management of the environment."

Maning Sambale blogs at 4253, which is derived from his user number in OSM and is tackling about mapping, free and open source data in the Philippines.

Eugene Villar - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature
Eugene Alvin Villar

Keep on mapping! Crowdsourced maps are pretty much the only way that we can get up-to-date, accurate, and affordable maps of the Philippines so every effort extended in contributing to Openstreetmap (and even Google Map Maker and RoadGuide.PH) goes a long way to helping the Philippines. With OSM, we are already seeing the results in terms of helping local communities cope with, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters. So mapping the country will not be in vain. - Eugene

Eugene is interested in maps and mapping ever since he was a kid. Like most other geeky kids, the encyclopedia and the atlas were two of his favorite things. It is not a surprise that he will get hooked up into contributing to mapping work as he grew.

And so it happened. His first mapping contribution was given to Wikipedia last 2002 such as the map of Manila (see here) and the rest was 2007 in Openstreetmap, to which his first contribution on OSM is at Las Piñas city, his hometown. Although he already learned about Openstreetmap being established way back 2004, he considered it as a purely British project back then. It was only in 2007 that he realized that it has become a worldwide endeavor and so he got hooked up to it immediately.

Eugene primarily contributes to Openstreetmap although he also contributes at other consortia such as RoadGuide.PH and Google Mapmaker. This is to be able to learn the ins and outs of the other two projects and how they compare to OSM, to which for him is the best crowdsourced mapping project there is for ideological reasons (it is free and open unlike the others). "But in some aspects, Openstreetmap lags behind Google Maps and RoadGuide.PH here in the Philippines.", says Eugene.

Eugene is currently the President of Openstreetmap Philippines, a non-profit organization established 2010, whose aim is to improve the map of the Philippines. He is also the man behind Lakbayan that started the craze of Filipino travelers to ensure that they have to get to all the provinces in the Philippines and mark them all blue. He also blogs for Vaes9, his personal/tech blog and Vista Pinas, that features the Philippines through satellite imagery.

Aside from mapping the Philippines, Eugene is a hardware engineer in a local research and development arm of Canon (the camera and printer manufacturer). He took up Computer Engineering in college and his work is directly related to his major by designing microchips that are used in Canon's products.

San Pablo Map - Openstreetmap Philippines
 Ian Lopez

Keep on exploring the Philippines and don't just go for the usual tourist spots. And for the mapping advocates, do not hesitate to ask help from other mappers. Openstreetmap's good practices will help you a lot. - Ian

Ian has been mapping the country since June 2008 to which his first contribution was in Laguna. Before being a mapping advocate, he is already interested in maps and cartography. The mapping data he contributes goes directly to Openstreetmap Philippines. As such he was the one who mapped San Pablo Laguna extensively.

Aside from being a mapping advocate, he is a college student of University of the Philippines, Los Baños taking up Sociology.

You can go ahead and see his blog about politics, cartography and other ideas at his blog, Ian Lopez.

Bernardo Arellano - Schadow1 Expeditions Mapping Advocate Feature

Bernárdo Arellano III

Keep on traveling. Explore the world with an open mind and heart--and you'll see that the very things, even the most simplest of gestures to grand tourist spots, have beauty and happiness that exudes. As for my colleagues in the mapping world, whatever community we are into, let's keep on mapping--in the end, this is for our country, our service to our motherland despite the challenges we face in marking the paths and charting the uncharted lands. - Bernie

It was a childhood passion for Bernie. It started with mapping in a small subdivision in Imus, Cavite to where he lived. From then he started mapping everywhere he goes to. Using his trusted notebook, he was able to map each of those he went to one by one. The passion put cities and countryside outside the Greater Manila Area on the global map drove him more in mapping.

Bernie's first mapping contribution is a road in a small barrio in Iloilo way back 2008. It was contributed to Google Map Maker - Google Maps web application for contributing data to their map.

Currently, Bernie is based in Cebu City as a lead generation specialist for a BPO. He also co-manages the Google Business Group Iloilo in a "part-time" basis. To which, they promote and help local businesses, online marketing people, institutions, and individuals in Iloilo and Panay-Guimaras area to utilize Google technology in improving their businesses and others. One of them is also to promote Google Maps.

Bernie is behind his successful travel blog, Habagat Central.


There are still many other Filipino mapping advocates out there who were not covered in this article. And there were those that were invited to be featured but declined as they want to remain anonymous.

And this is one of the messages of a mapping advocate who wanted to remain anonymous as he still believes that he has not done enough; yet would like to bring about this message on why he chose to be one.

I remember in the past while mapping near the slums, people would complain. "They would not allow us to be connected with electricity because we are not in the map (MERALCO's map of service coverage, the electric company)." He's is not even a squatter but he happened to be in the middle of a rice field. And it is because the local government units did not do what they are supposed to do.
In pointing out lost creeks in the marshlands, At least in my own town, marshlands functioned as a temporary basin for floodwater, before it drain to Laguna lakes. On rainy days, those creeks disappear, in summer they appear. It only shows that not all marshland creeks are enough (from an engineer's point of view) to drain floods. Then here comes land conversions of these marshlands to residential and industrial zones for more profit of the more fortunate social class. Sometimes, it even encroaches entirely on the tiny creeks, or leaving the existing creeks to function as the "only" drainage canals for storm water to reach Laguna lake. But remember, the existing creeks only functions during summer and submerged entirely during the rainy season prior to it being developed to a residential community. Yet no engineering provisions were proposed or done when they put landfills on marshlands and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources even approved their environmental permit to allow the conversion amidst the danger. Sometimes, the real-estate developer just installs small man-made canals to prove they have complied with the provisions, without even justifying its capacity to deal with heavy rains with cubic meter/hour or something; which will obviously would not work looking at its sheer size. I don't know even how to say and explain my point. Yet that is the point, maybe graphically, in a form of a map, we can do simple math. And that is where the maps we create goes in to play.
A community in my neighborhood was engulfed in fire. And firemen as far as Pateros frantically tried to find ways to get to that burning community via a narrow road (eskenita). Once their water supply is out, they have to get out to let other fire trucks in with fresh supply. Now, this becomes ineffective because the Bureau of Fire Protection doesn't have a concrete emergency traffic routing plan with the use of an accurate map. At anytime, anybody can go to barangay/municipal offices to borrow those metal-framed tents blocking the already narrow roads (e.g. for funeral services, parties, etc) .. as in anytime without clearance from BFP and emergency services from Police and Ambulance. And this is done in exchange of votes for the upcoming elections without knowing, it is already endangering the lives and property of the community.

In summary,  the maps we use came from people, not only with an interest of mapping, but with an advocacy of making a society work through maps. Often, these people work in the background and unknown or forgotten; while people continue to enjoy the benefits of the latest technology to where you no longer need to be lost by using a gadget that fits well on the palm of your hand. People forget to see that behind those maps are people, such as the mapping advocates, who were once right where you are right now that paved your way ahead of you so you no longer need to get lost.

"Mapping the Philippines is like providence. You find your way to prepare directions for others so they have more time to rediscover than getting lost."


Digital Maps of the Philippines: Comparisons
Choosing to travel the Philippines, climbing its mountains and its effects for the Filipinos

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