For around 4 years now, I've been helping organize PyCon PH as one of Python PH's volunteer organizers. It's an amazing experience that I can never fully describe, but since I've decided to write about it, I can only say that it's something I would recommend for everyone. Community involvement not only helps one learn more about their craft together with others, it also improves social and management skills. For me, the biggest benefit is that it ultimately lets you take part in shaping the community into the one you always wish you had.
We may come from different backgrounds. You may be lucky to have chosen this course from the start or maybe some circumstance made you into someone who codes. Maybe you're into some specific technology or you have something you want to build. I was a career-shifter so I had to find peers in this new world ahead. I had to learn as much as I can and make progress as fast as I could because I was "late in the game", having come from a different industry. So with this, I started attending meetups and that's when one day, I found myself in a local Python meetup.
In this post, I'll share photos from past PyCon PH from 2015 until PyCon APAC 2019, which was hosted by the Philippines for the first time.
From one Python meetup to another, suddenly I was attending my very first PyCon as a volunteer. It was an easy decision for me since it was in my Alma Mater, which was a bit near my place. I got to meet fantastic people, even people who wrote libraries a lot of people use, including me. It was very tiring, but it was a lot of fun. Volunteering is hard work.
This was the third PyCon PH. The first one was in 2012 and the previous one was in 2014. By this time, the conference has been held in the top three universities in the country. We decided we wanted to bring PyCon to the other islands of the Philippines. The Philippine archipelago has three major island groups. Our first stop was Cebu, in Visayas, the central island group.
PyCon 2016 was the first one outside Luzon, the northern-most island group where Manila is located. I was surprised that there were this much attendees since Visayas is made up of many separate islands, so the overall cost would be higher for attendees. Cost is always a concern we think about so we try to keep ticket prices affordable.
PyCon PH has two days, and in one of the evenings, we host a dinner for volunteers, sponsors and speakers. It's a good time to meet everyone involved in the event, and it's a break from all the behind the scenes work happening. The seats for the dinner are limited for this event and not everyone is available to attend, also some leave early. I felt like I had to explain why there's only a few people in the photo above.
The island group farthest from Luzon is Mindanao, which is the southern-most island group in the Philippines. This would be the first PyCon in Mindanao so we didn't know what to expect. It turned out better than expected.
This is a decent selfie while some preparations are happening.
After going around the country, PyCon is back in Manila at iAcademy. This is in their orignal campus. I need to mention that because PyCon APAC will be in iAcademy's new campus. It's great to see more and more attendees coming in every year.
Aside from having dinners, we also have adventures. After PyCon, we take our visitors to some place so that they can see more of our country. They came all the way to the Philippines so we host an after-PyCon trip in some tourist spot.
There are two Xoxzonians in this photo, Iqbal and Zaki. I wasn't part of the team yet during that time and PyCon PH 2018 is where I met them. This is then my journey with Xoxzo was about to start. Shaurya, a former Xoxzonian was there too, and he had a blog post about it.
PyCon PH 2019 was this year's PyCon APAC. It's the first time for the Philippines to host PyCon APAC. It's amazing when I look back at these pictures. The community has grown so much and I met a lot of people who I can consider as friends. Smartphone camera technology has improved a lot, too! ;)
I'm very happy about being involved in my local Python community. Whether you're just curious or you're really into what you do, I suggest trying to volunteer at least once. It's an experience that can never be completely shared with words. I'm grateful, thankful, I learned and grew a lot.
Look how the community has grown. It's hard work and I feel sad about not having the time to do volunteer work anymore. Starting this year I'm going to attend PyCons not as an organizer but as a typical attendee and just enjoy the conference. And I'm not just talking about attending PyCon PH, I'm planning to attend and support all the hard work of volunteers in nearby countries by attending their PyCons. In fact, I was in PyCon MY last year. Wherever you're reading this from, hope to see you in your local PyCon!
Oh and if you're in the Philippines and are interestested in attending tech events, checkout the events calendar I'm consolidating. I hope you see something you like!