We delivered UX+AI and other tech to Cagayan

Jordan Deja
Apr 23, 2018 · 7 min read
Here’s a photo of me during the Day 2 of the #DiMSum2018 Conference. Photo credits belong to the Shareable and to their team. It was a warmer day so I decided to dress down. It just so happened that I got a dark grey shirt.

I was supposed to go to Canada to attend the most prestigious Conference in my academic career yet. Due to logistics and other operational concerns, I could not make it on time. I missed the SEACHI Symposium and the HCI Education Symposium hosted in the CHI 2018 Conference.

Thankfully, I got invited up north, around 490km away my home to deliver the good news of UX+AI to around 600 CS, IT, CpE students in the Cagayan Province. The event was named #DiMSum2018, short for Digital Media Summit 2018, with the theme “Co-Create Cagayan’s Digital Future”. It was part of a series of events organized by the Google Business Group (GBG) Pangasinan, GBG Cagayan and GBG Isabela. It was delivered with the help of Shareable Inc.

The Province of Cagayan, if my memory serves me right, is the second largest province in the Philippines in terms of land area. It has a long river which according to experts is the source of its name: “Karayan” or river. You can know more about it by checking out its Wiki page. It was also hot. It has an agricultural sector. Cagayan State University had around 9 campuses in the province.

A team of speakers, around 13 of us were invited to speak and share their knowledge to Junior and Senior students of Cagayan State University. We had a taste of their awesome hospitality and we visited the famous Callao Cave.

The Shareable Team along with the speakers during the Tour along Callao Cave, in Penablanca Cagayan.

A lot of topics were arranged from CyberSecurity, IoT, General Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and of course, UX+AI. We had people from the industry, from abroad and even from Senior High School! It was a awesome mix of speakers and there were always a lot to learn from each other.

The kid on the right is Joseph Dulay. He just graduated from SHS. And he has won a lot of competitions globally and locally. The guy in green is his mentor Sir Yuri Rancudo. They’ve done this country a lot and here you can see them doing a demo of their Robotics stuff to the participants.

All speakers got an opportunity to speak to around 3 batches of 200+ students all in 2-days time. I wanted to introduce UX+AI and the importance of design, not only in their careers but in coming up with solutions to people’s problems. I brought with me the Myo device because the organizer wanted us to demo and to ‘wow’ the audience with the awesome stuff we do. You see, Cagayan province being 480km+ away from Manila would also mean that some of the technology we take for granted may be like rare gems to them.

Here you can see me holding the Myo and offering it to the students who approached me during the demo.

So there were demo’s and talks and both avenues gave us the opportunity to share what we could impart to the graduating youth of Cagayan Province. During my stay there, I’ve learned that the superstar Dado Banatao was also from Cagayan. I may not be a superstar like Dado, but we hoped that our team was able to inspire and motivate them to keep on dream, push their boundaries and contribute to society.

In my talk, I mentioned again the importance of UX in the development of AI and how it should be to augment people’s lives and not end or replace them. You can read them again in my other blog “Should you really make an AI for it?”. I was wearing the myo armband. I have a creepy smile too. I really need to lose weight too.

I wanted to share that this Cagayan trip has taught me a lot of lessons that I will always hold dear to me. Here are some of them:

A photo of me beside Vincent, currently wearing the Myo Armband. I was demonstrating to them the technology behind it and how to do some basic pre-calibrated gestures with the device.

People are always willing to learn and each of us have their own learning styles. Some might just need a little boost or a little motivation. When you have the desire to teach, all of these should be standard. Education should be accessible to all. You do not have to be rich or poor, smart or stupid to learn. You just have to be willing. And if we are gifted with the knowledge, we should also possess the wisdom to share. Imagine a smarter world, a world smarter than yesterday.

Here’s a photo of my friend Reymart. He’s a Tech Engineer who works on Google Suite and its products. He was doing a demo on Facial Recognition using Google Cloud. And of course there’s me in the background. The room was full of demos. We would like to thank the President of CSU for allowing us to accommodate these students in his conference room.

We can always learn something from anyone and learning never stops. During the #DiMSum2018 it was two rooms full of speakers and demos. But it was also two rooms of sharing, collaboration and there was always somewhere to go.

Upon arriving in Cagayan and learning that we are to talk to around 600–800 students, I asked myself this awkward question:

If all these 600 students graduate, where do they go? What kind of jobs do they get?

While not every one of us may have the privilege of having all these technology products and even if we do not every one may have accessibility to resources and expertise to use these, there are those who are willing to learn no matter what boundaries there may be. We should be able to extend our hands, give them the means. This lesson made me want to do more talks in really far and remote regions in the country. I may not be able to give them the financial support to fund and buy for them the pieces of technology we brought, we could always give them a reason to dream and aim for the stars.

In almost every talk I give, I always use the quote that I have learned from Doc Arnie way back in Grad School. It goes like “Planes dont flap their wings to fly, but birds dont take off from trees either.. A car can run faster than a cheetah but a car can never climb a tree..”.

Planes dont flap their wings to fly, but birds dont take off from trees either.. A car can run faster than a cheetah but a car can never climb a tree.

While the message of the quote spells the power of Biomimicry and the importance of referring to our basic nature when developing and coming up with solutions, it also gives us the insights on the various possibilities of the things we can do.

Had I known, I wouldve volunteered first to teach them the importance of Design Thinking and how to do Design Sprints. I immediately jumped to showing them UX and AI and the different types of intelligent interfaces that we could develop when they would need better the skills and techniques to diagnose a problem, emphathize, and all that. I feel like I may have missed delivering the most important lesson before I could ask them to dive into all of these. But even though I did not have that chance, Im pretty sure I was able to do something else…

I mean look at that. Those faces. I may have said a funny joke or I may have sparked something back there.

I hope to be able to return to the North again for a longer session so I could keep on helping and inspiring the youth from over there. I know we’ll be going for another leg of talks, this time in the Isabela province but so far everything is still in the works.

Just less than two days and we already got this awesome feedback from one of our learners:

I’d like to leave some more questions as I end this blog post such as: (1) What are the extra steps that we can do to increase the level of awareness and appreciation towards UX in the country?; (2) How willing are we to help our countrymen towards a stronger more fortified society?; (3) How many among us are really willing to step down our Ivory Towers and actually reach out to those who needs us the most?; (4) How might we democratize the different technologies, expertise so that we may able to manage knowledge in empowering the future generations?; (5) If we wont help our country, then who would?

I think helping the rest of our countrymen is way, way better than helping our selves, our family. Towards a data-powered society, the right motivation and experience would lead towards sustainable progress.

Jordan would like to thank again the following personalities and entities who made all of these possible: GBG Cagayan, Shareable Inc, Ms. Vanj Padilla, Mr. Reymart Canuel, Cagayan State University Carig Campus and its College of Information and Computing Sciences, Mr. Ralph Regalado and the Senti Techlabs Ph Team, AIPilipinas, The UXPH2018 Team, DLSU, CCS and COMET.

You can also check the social media posts in FB thru this link:

Specifically, this post they made about me:

Here’s when I tweeted about it (I practically used the same photos tbh)

And you can learn more from the hashtag they used #DiMSum2018

User Experience Society — DLSU

The first organization in DLSU focusing on UX, HCI…