TL;DR Being able to join PyCon Philippines 2018 was indeed very memorable and fun-filled. Though unexpected things could happen, it still did not stop me from being able to experience PyCon and learn more valuable discoveries and tools I can use in developing applications in the Python ecosystem.
One month has already passed and the PyCon hangover on me was still left uncured. I still can’t forget that even weeks before the event, I really was very excited to fly to Manila and attend the biggest annual Python convention in the country. It was currently my second year to attend PyCon—my first experience was last year’s PyCon Philippines held in Cagayan de Oro. Same as last year, I volunteered for PyCon as the head graphic designer, when Mickey of Python Philippines told me if I could make a design for this year’s PyCon. I willingfully volunteered and made a design that was used as the main branding theme material. Designing for tech events was never a new thing for me as I have been making graphic and motion graphic designs for GDG Cagayan de Oro as the community organization’s Creative Lead.
I haven’t met the other working volunteers who helped make PyCon Philippines 2018 happen but I was able to keep in touch with them through the team’s Slack channel and Messenger group. Later I discovered that I was the only student in the team and the other volunteers were already professionals and were already successful in their respective fields. It was really a new environment for me because last year’s PyCon volunteer team were comprised of Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science (CS) students from all over Cagayan de Oro.
That, however, didn’t stop me to converse with the other volunteers who are passionate enough to make PyCon Philippines 2018 happen.
When I left Cagayan de Oro for PyCon, I really was very excited as it was my first time to attend a tech convention outside CDO. I already have planned the places to visit whenever I arrive Makati and I already have saved enough money to visit new places I’ve never been before. I already have downloaded Grab and Uber on my Android phone to make sure that I never miss on going places around Makati. Flying alone was nerve-wracking yet memorable and fun-filled. I must say that I have checked one of my bucket lists—that is—to fly alone. I now can proudly say that I can fly to visit other places without other people’s supervision or a chaperone going with me.
Morning of the first day of PyCon came, and I really woke up very prepared to go to iACADEMY. Something really unexpected had happened that morning. Want to know that that was? My wallet with my pocket money and ATM card was stolen when I rode in a jeepney to the venue. Sad and traumatized over what had happened to me, I walked to the venue with no money left and wished that my wallet with all its contents returned to me. I had to cancel my plans of visiting places because of what had happened and I had no idea where to borrow money to be able to make it through my remaining days of stay in Makati. Good thing that when I told what had happened to me to Ms. Mickey, she gladly offered her help to lend me money for me to be able to make through the rest of my stay in Makati. I really am a very religious person and that experience has given me lessons and believed that God is really there, willing to help only if we are to ask Him wholeheartedly (Thank you so much, Lord!). That experience also led me into a decision to not continue my internship there in Makati.
Maybe I will consider working in Makati, soon, but this time, I still have to move on and forget the things that had happened a month ago.
Moving forward, that experience never stopped me to enjoy PyCon Philippines 2018 as a whole. The amazing line-up of keynote speakers are really something that I looked forward to. I was very interested to join talks that are related to Machine Learning and Data Science and have prepared my own Lightning Talk to leave a memorable experience in PyCon Philippines 2018. I must admit that as a Python newbie, the talks were really just jampacked and inspirational for me to continue pursuing on using Python as my main programming language of choice in the future. My favorite speakers were Dr. Erika Fille Legara Ph.D. Program Director, Master of Science in Data Science at Asian Institute of Management and Rolando Cruz Software Engineer at Freelancer.com.
I loved their talks not just because their talks are related to Machine Learning and Data Science but their talks relate to what my current hobbies are and I’ve seen how I emerged and started as a developer especially on Dr. Legara’s Talk.
Dr. Legara’s talk have had a special impact on me when she shared about her first programming experience with C++ and how she used that skill to better develop visualiations and explain phenomena through data analysis. I can see that she’s really into geek, deep mathematical stuff and I directly could relate to her because I really loved Math. My love for Math has helped me understand Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence concepts and formulae. By listening to Dr. Legara’s talk, I can say that I am willing to push through a Data Science or a Machine Learning Engineer career, perhaps, in the future.
Group lunches were really a thing in PyCon Philippines 2018 and I see that as an avenue for an introvert-exclusive audience to talk and mingle around each other. I really liked how group lunches have brought various developers from different backgrounds to talk maybe about how their experiences in PyCon or their favorite cartoon character. PyCon Philippines 2018 had provided a friendly atmosphere for professionals, students, and speakers alike to not just spend time listening to talks together but to also form bonds and friendship and that’s what I think and believe really matters in tech conferences. I was just amazed at how the speakers have conversed with the delegates unlike other typical conferences that delegates often feel inferior because speakers aren’t given an opportunity to really talk with the audience.
That’s what make PyCon different from other conferences in terms of how it provides atmosphere for friendship and getting to know more about other developers.
It was also my first time to have a lightning talk at PyCon Philippines 2018. My talk was entitled, “Image Inpainting with TensorFlow”. Being one of the only students in the line-up was nerve-wracking yet very fun experience for me. One of the speakers who was an eight-year-old kid also spoke about how he made a Minecraft application built with Python and Raspberry Pi. It makes me recount my experience and what I’ve accomplished as a former eight-year-old kid. One lightning speaker also talked about hand gesture identification with OpenCV.
Speaking of friendship, I have met new friends at PyCon Philippines 2018. Zorex, Ciara, Nikko, and Jessica to mention a few. They really were just very accomodating and friendly to me. I never have felt aloof during my PyCon stay at iACADEMY. Jessica was also able to share her experience of visiting Cagayan de Oro and being able to brave the rapids while rafting at the Cagayan de Oro river. It really was just a small world after all. Also, I was able to share Ciara and Jessica about my knowledge in Machine Learning and I really am very excited about their enthusiasm in developing applications in that field in the future. I felt so glad that I was able to inspire new developers to engage and start developing Machine Learning applications in the future. Also, I was able to talk at some speakers such as Al Sweigart who wrote books like Automating the Boring Stuff with Python and Manoj Pandey who is a passionate developer and student from India.
My PyCon Philippines 2018 was indeed very fun-filled an memorable. Though it didn’t start the way I expected it to happen, that experience, however, did not stop me from being able to mingle and learn more about new things I can develop in the Python ecosystem. I can say that I’m very excited for what’s in store for me now that I’m ready to develop Machine Learning application and to pursue a Data Science career.
Keeping the lessons I have learned from the talks at PyCon, I have realized that you have to start at something basic, something that’s simple. And as you grow as a developer, you continue to learn and apply them each day and you become the developer you want to be in the future.
Also, never forget to share the learnings or the things you have discovered and developed to other developers as well. In the end, the future of computing does not lie on the new discoveries you have made but in the contributions and the learnings you get from other developers. Having those experiences in me, I’m indeed very thankful and grateful for the people who have made me experience PyCon Philippines 2018 especially to Ms. Mickey of Python Philippines. Looking forward to next year’s PyCon!
If you’re interested in building your own Machine Learning application but you still don’t have any idea to make one, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can give you the slides and the Jupyter Notebook of my lightning talk at PyCon Philippines 2018.