Digital Halo-Halo Hackathon: A Unique, Unforgettable Experience for Filipino Freelancers
There are competitions and there are competitions, but a Facebook-sponsored, Affinis Lab-organized one is something truly memorable to Filipino freelancers like me- especially if you end up winning it.
Since it’s really special to me, allow me to be your “Lola Basyang” this issue. Instead of my usual VA/writer tips and tricks, I’m going to tell you of my unique, wonderful, eye-opening experience in Digital Halo-Halo Hackathon.
From This Filipino Freelancer to You: My Digital Halo-Halo Story
When I first saw Digital Halo-Halo’s ad, I did not want to join. Why? The word “Hackathon”, to a not so techy person like me just seemed to be out of my league. What in the world would a 51-year-old writer do in such a competition? Other than basic HTML codes, I have nothing.
Then, Ms. Janette Toral, The Mother of Philippine E-commerce, founder of Digital Filipino, posted the same ad on my FB group, Writers’ Forum and Blog Sharing Group. I read it again and found out that yes, there’s a place for writers and storytellers there!
So I applied, but in my haste due to overexcitement, I was not able to add the required attachment. Sigh. I just blew my chance. Goodbye, Digital Halo-Halo. Lesson number one: Haste makes waste.
But I guess Lady Luck smiled my way. Two days before the Hackathon, I received an email from the organizers, saying:
After reviewing the overwhelming responses from qualified candidates, we are pleased to announce you have been selected to be on the waiting list.
Please do let us know immediately if you wish to remain on the waiting list for the Digital Halo-Halo Hackathon, to be held in Manila from Nov 24-26. If any participant cannot make it to the hackathon, we will invite people on the waiting list in the order they were put on it.
If we have a spot open to participate, we will let you know.
Wow. Just wow.
I know I have a lot of work, but this is one competition I would not miss. So I replied immediately, was accepted with equal speed, signed the Participant Agreement, read the Briefing Package, and started packing my bags.
Day One: Registration and Social Media Workshop
The event took place at Acceler8, a co-working space in Paseo De Roxas. The staff was friendly and polite.
Participants were welcomed with a very tasty, tummy-filling buffet sponsored by Facebook. In fact, all the time we were there, FB fed us well. No, not just well but exceedingly well. Service from Jal N Jio was great, food overflowed, snacks and chips, soda and energy drinks were provided too.
After dinner, we had the social media workshop led by luminaries from their specific fields of endeavor:
Apple Allison of Bicol Bloggers. She’s a very talented, very vibrant, very passionate young blogger who talked about online storytelling.
Clair Deevy from Facebook. Ah, yes. The Facebook that changed the world. Her topic was random hacks of kindness. She’s not only very pregnant with her third baby – but with ideas too.
Tawanda Kanhema from AJ+. Watch one of AJ+’s videos and you’ll be amazed at what this guy and his team can do.
Day Two: And the Hackathon begins….
Call me lucky. Or perhaps it’s my non-conventional manner. I chose to sit on the table directly in front of the facilitators, whereas others chose the ones on the sides. Their empty seats filled immediately. I sat alone.
When it was time to group, Wajahat encouraged others to join me. He even said, “Come, she doesn’t bite.”
First to join me was Joemar Belleza – staunch advocate of HIV awareness, LGBT rights, and the promotion of the purchasing power of the pink peso.
Then came Dexter Rustia and Gabriel Sumalinog Patalinjug.
Dex is an IT undergrad from the Asian College of Technology. He just took the subjects he liked, especially programming subjects. His skills and knowledge were honed from the jobs he did and from a very able mentor.
Gab, on the other hand, is a Computer Engineering graduate from the University of San Carlos. Again, most of his skills were learned from an able mentor. He’s the second person on the right. (Sorry, Gab, missed you when we did the photos)
Then came Raymond de la Cruz, the group’s assigned Graphics Designer. He took a two-year Computer Software Technology in Datamex Institute of Computer, but focused more on Graphic and Web Designs. Most of his skills, he learned by himself.
And finally, we were joined by Seth Tujan Abangan, the group’s bandmaster. He’s a badass creative techie into app development seeking business partners to build big-impact solutions. MError was actually his idea. And – he is Dex’ and Gab’s mentor. He’s the guy on my left.
Five guys and a granny. Yes, we are “In the Mix“.
After grouping us, Shahed and Wajahat guided us on the ideation process. They asked us what we thought were the most pressing issues in the country today. We wrote on sticky notes, stuck them on a board then grouped similar ideas.
After that, we continued designing. I first thought of gamifying internet etiquette. Seth proposed a Grammarly-like tool to make FB users aware of what they are writing on their walls.
Then, our ideas were tested by local mentors. They provided their important feedback on what we had on mind.
Day Three: Storytelling and Campaign Building
After considering all factors, we decided to go with the Grammarly-like tool. Seth named it MError. A blending of two words – Me and error. I proposed several taglines to go with it. One that’s catchy and would fit with the logo. We voted for “Your online conscience”. Lesson number 2: When Yoda talks, better shut up. Yoda knows better when it comes to IT. Lol!
Looking back, the secret to our success was teamwork. Once we zeroed in on what we wanted, we moved like gears in a machine. Seth, the leader, gave clear instructions to Gab and Dex. He also created the slides for the presentation. I used my writing skills for the content. Joemar prepared for the presentation. Mon did all the graphics and prettified the slides.
Then came pitching time. All six groups presented our project proposals, wearing shirts with the Digital Halo-Halo design – specially created by Alfox Printing Services.
Care to watch the video? Here’s the link:
Yes, we just made history. We will be placed as the first group to win in Digital Halo-Halo Hackathon!
To Facebook, Affinis Labs and AJ+, please continue supporting Filipinos. We have a wealth of creatives who have great ideas that can make this world a better place.
A better Facebook, a better world. How happy can that be?
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