What the Hack? On the Scene at Foursquare Hack Day Philippines

Filipino developers flock to Foursquare Hack Day Philippines for a day of fun, competition, and some serious location-based mobile app development.


On December 1, the elevators leading to SMART Communications 12th floor cafeteria “Sadoce” at its Makati HQ were jammed with software developers headed for Foursquare Hack Day Philippines (an event also known by its Twitter hashtag #4SQHackPH). For that Saturday, the cafeteria had transformed into an enormous “hackerspace”, with its tables filled with developers, laptops, power strips, and energy drinks, eager to hunker down for a day of coding with the Foursquare API.

Judging from the numbers alone, the event was a huge success – 119 developers showed up (comprising 26 teams out of the 46 that had registered online) to compete for cash prizes and complimentary accounts to pricey developer cloud services. It was one of the biggest local hackathons assembled at a single venue. But apart from the competition, the developers also came to hear a talk straight from an actual Foursquare engineer how Foursquare’s Connected Apps API could help them create great location and venue aware apps.

Organized by SMART Developer Network (Smart DevNet) and WebGeek Philippines, Foursquare Hack Day Philippines was actually the very first authorized Foursquare-themed hackathon held outside of the USA. New York-based Foursquare usually has its developer events in NYC, but SMART had especially flown in Foursquare platform engineer Sajid Mehmood for the occasion.

“It’s my first hack outside of the US,” noted Mehmood later.

SMART and Foursquare had partnered on projects before, such as enabling the first Philippine Foursquare badge (The SMART #LiveMore badge that debuted during the 2012 Lady Gaga concerts) but the Hack day was their first joint event. In commemoration of the Hack Day and Foursquare’s first Philippine event, the SMART badge was reactivated for just one day on Dec. 1, giving some attendees the chance to add the Smart badge to their virtual Foursquare badge collection.

Ace developer Ken Daganio, acting as WebGeek’s Evangelist, was the emcee of the day and introduced the speakers for the day. First up to speak was Chito Bustamante, Smart’s Group Head for Product Development.


Bustamante’s talk started off with a series of questions, among which; “Who among you is a part of a hackateam?”, “Who here is an entrepreneur?”, “Who among you guys work from 9-5? “ and “Who among you guys are searching for a job?“.

He then discussed Foursquare as a SoLoMo (Social Location Mobile) app, how it can be used, and pointing out that developers could monetize from tt. He also asked questions on how many hackathons were the participants participated within the year and said, “I think we need to do more”.

He then discussed Smart’s goals and contributions on fostering the internet and mobile “ecosystem”.

Ken introduced the next speaker, Cyril Vendivil, a junior developer on Smart platform services. Cyril discussed Smart’s Network API which currently contains SMS Sending, MMS Sending and Location Based Servicses. He then showed a quick demo of an application that used the API.

The last speaker that morning was Sajid Meehmod, a Software Engineer at Foursquare who focuses on the Foursquare Platform. Sajid discussed the basics of the Foursquare API.


Sajid then discussed the procedure for developing a Foursquare API-based application; how to create a new application on Foursquare, information can be fetched using the API, and a sampling of existing applications that other developers have created.

Among the applications shown were:

* Muggle Clock, a location based clock which shows clock hands (represents the users) pointing to that user’s current location.

* Trips Q, shows a quick summary of the information taken from your Foursquare account.

* Localmind, which provides real time info on current venues such as ratings and traffic.

Sajid also gave the participants a starting point by showing what was used in the Foursquare API in order to create each of the applications that were shown.

After Sajid Mehmood’s talk, Ken gave the audience a quick review of the hackathon’s rules and sponsors and finally announced the theme for the hackathon: “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.

Right after announcing the theme, the 9-hour hackathon begun in earnest.


After the 9 hour hack, the developer teams went up on stage one by one, and presented their apps to teh jusges and the audience.

The judges assembled for this event were Migs Paraz of Novare, Dave Quitoriano of RedMedia, William Yu of Novare (and a professor at Ateneo de Manila), Sajid Mehmood from FourSquare and Bryan Bibat, VP for Technology of DevCon Philippines.


Each team was given a strict three minutes of presentation time, followed by another two minutes of Q and A from the judges. After the judges’ deliberation, three teams emerged as the winners:


First Prize went to Team Triple A (AAA) composed of Aci Cartagena , Danielle Padilla, and Mikko Asis won as the grand winner with their app: “PicXplorer” – this instantly creates a “More Fun In The Philippines” poster, using the Foursquare API to pull photos posted on venues near your location or a pinned location.

The grand prize winner romped off with P30,000 in Cash, plus the following services and dev tools:

  • Atlassian OnDemand (worth over $900)
  • GitHub 1-year Silver (worth $600)
  • Corona SDK – Pro (worth $324)
  • Pivotal Tracker $500 Credit


2nd Place went to Team Zinder, composed of Dexter Brylle Matos, Marco Padillo, and Hyubs Ursua for their incremental social good app called “8 Small Things” which according to them “Make Philippines more fun by doing small things connected to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals for 2015”.

The Second Place team won:

  • P20,000 Cash
  • Atlassian OnDemand (worth $900+)
  • GitHub 1-year Bronze (worth $300)
  • Corona SDK – Indie (worth $199)
  • Pivotal Tracker $500 Credit


Third Place went to the team “Self Servants” composed of Melvin Fetalvero, Jason Sia, Mai Cervantes with their “It’s More Fun In the Philippines Experience” app which allows the user to have quest-like location-based experiences. The experiential app described by the team as “An Alternative Reality Game” brings popular experiences in to the Philippine Context.

The third place winners won:

  • P10,000 Cash
  • Atlassian OnDemand (worth $900+)
  • GitHub 6-months Bronze (worth $150)
  • Corona SDK – Indie (worth $199)
  • Pivotal Tracker $500 Credit

A total of 16 teams made it to through the hack and presented their applications. After a little over 12 hours, Foursquare Hack Day Philippines finally wrapped up and called it a day. It was an intense experience, but also punctuated with the spirit of fun (after all, it’s more fun in the Philippines) and a coming together of sorts for Manila’s small but tight-knit developer community. For Webgeek and SMART Devnet, it was another developer event down, another hackathon was in the can. And a fitting wrap-up to a packed 2012 events calendar.

For Foursquare, it was a chance to show off their API to Philippine developers. meet with local Foursquare advocates, and experience their first hackathon outside the USA. And for developers, the event gave them new insight into the workings of the world renowned location and venue API.

From the developers to the organizers, the popular consensus was it was a job well done, well documented in social media via the #4SQHackPH hashtag. A number of them went off into the Makati evening to celebrate the day’s coding extravaganza over some more food and drinks, checking into Foursquare venues along the way. For Sajid Mehmood and some members of the SMART DevNet team, winding down the evening meant celebrating over late night waffles.After checking into Foursquare of course.

Other #4SQHackPH event links you can check out:
Event Archive: http://eventifier.co/event/4sqhackph
Event Photos: http://facebook.com/webgeek
Taghuddle: http://taghuddle.com/4SQHackPH
Gallery: http://4sqhackph.karaniwan.org/
Video Coverage: http://eventifier.co/event/4sqhackph/videos


Thank you for your comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: