58 days and counting until the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge! Local leads at 70 sites all over the world are in the midst of preparations to engage their local communities in building and creating better tools to explore and communicate about space. We invited Manila local lead Dean Marc to share about why he and his team got involved in Space Apps and their plans to lead the event in the Philippines. (Banner image is the Philippine archipelago from ISS, via ESA.)
On my walk back to the Hive, as we call our team at the Dungeon, I am again struck by a fleeting gloom whenever I look up at the night sky and see something completely ordinary: nothing; well, almost nothing.
Aside from the passing glitter of planes en route to their destinations, a spatter of wispy clouds, and the lambent glow of the urban sky, I see no stars. While I am aware of the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, skyglow, and the effects of weather conditions and air pollution in visibility, no amount of excuse cheers me up at that point in time.
But, surprise! Upon reaching the Hive, on a piece of recycled A4 hanging on one of our pin walls is writ “NASA MANILA, nasa Manila.” The word ‘nasa’ also happens to mean ‘in’ or ‘at’ in our native language to denote location. I still cannot believe our team has been afforded the chance to host the International Space Apps Challenge in Manila. While we are still advocating to ensure logistical and participation feasibility by allying with partners and sponsors through varying levels of sponsorship (i.e. Planetary, Lunar, Stellar, Galactic, and Cosmic), we are very hopeful and confident.
While I am proud to say that our teams are perhaps some of the geekiest, smartest, and purpose-driven bunch in this part of the globe, we humbly operate mostly in the shadows and under stealth.
We do not see the Space Apps Challenge here as a chance to prove to the world that our country or our industry has developed sophisticated technology or solutions nor is it a statement of competence in relation to the level of vibrancy and intensity in comparison to other economies, locations, or technology startup arenas.
You would be surprised to know that when we spoke with some very knowledgeable technology people here, it takes more than a few seconds for them to recall what NASA is and the significance and benefit it has offered to the world at large.
We are aware that taking this initiative to bring and promote the International Space Apps Challenge here is fraught with difficulties on cultural, social, technological, professional and community aspects. Fail or succeed, we take it on upon ourselves to be catalysts for the future in our tiny, little way. We start here at our own backyard.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
This is the spirit of the event. This is the spirit of our long-term commitment to this endeavour. This is the spirit within everyone who truly wants to make a difference.
Per aspera ad astra and see you soon!