A car made from abaca, coding for kids, and more by young Filipino creators

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

EJ Escanilla of Fablab Mindanao, one of the exhibitors at the Manila Mini Maker Faire, demonstrates his prototype of a door powered by facial recognition technology. "It detects your face, and then it converts it into a black and white image. Then it runs an algorithm that creates a histogram of how your face looks based on the blacks and the whites of the image," explains Escanilla. Photo by NIKKI BONUEL

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Here is the simple premise that links the annual Maker Faire as it happens across the globe. Every year, artists, engineers, crafters, and scientists gather in major cities to exhibit their work and interact with a community of curious minds. For the maker movement, everyone is a maker.

The robust field of making includes robotics, woodwork, textile arts and crafts, and even artisanal food and beverage production. The maker faire is a spotlight on problem solving and individual ingenuity. In the Philippines, “making” is both an opportunity to showcase local talent, and a campaign to transform consumers into creators. This weekend, Manila joins the global community of makers once again as it hosts the second Manila Mini Maker Faire. The faire is open to the public from June 23 to June 24 at the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. 

Manila Mini Maker Faire is organized by Make Magazine, the Mind Museum, and co-presented by 3M Philippines. To answer the obvious question, 3M Philippines President and Managing Director Ariel Lacsamana says that a maker is anyone who is “always curious, asking why, why not, and what if.”

IMG_0657.jpg This giveaway will allow attendees of the Manila Mini Maker Faire to learn simple electrical wiring and soldering. Photo by NIKKI BONUEL

To stimulate local talent, Lacsamana believes that collaboration between the public and private sector is necessary. “Our agreement with the Department of Science and Technology is good for five years, and we hope to continue that. What’s great is, now, the Department of Trade and Industry has jumped in on that relationship, too. We’re very optimistic about our collaborations with the government,” Lacsamana says.

Asked about what will be done differently on the Maker Faire’s second year, event lead Art Galapon says the sheer volume of attending makers will present an exciting change. “From over 70 makers last year,” he says, “we now have exactly 99 makers. We have more diverse kinds of makers, too. Mas marami na ‘yung crafts, marami nang mga robotics, 3D printing. May mga international makers na rin na pupunta.” Makers from Malaysia, Singapore, China, and Canada are set to arrive for the faire.

“We have a small community of makers who don’t even consider themselves makers yet,” says Galapon on the state of the maker movement in the country, “Maker Faire is basically a celebration of making. We wanted to strengthen the community of makers here in the Philippines.” To supplement the faire, organizers will also host networking events for this year’s makers.

This year’s exhibitors include Jason Pechardo, a materials scientist and engineer. Pechardo will be presenting his prototype of a car body fabricated from abaca. His prototype is designed to be lightweight and energy-efficient. Meanwhile, Arvin Encarnacion of Coding4Kids will be exhibiting his Coding & Robotics Kit, containing basic parts for robot construction and a “robot brain” microcomputer. The kit is intended to introduce children to coding and robotics.

Art and Science collective Trial and Error will also be present. The group of scientists and graphic illustrators will be displaying their illustrated post cards and comics. Trial and Error’s designs are made with a view to further science education in the Philippines. Julius Sempio, a graphic illustrator and science major, shares, “Nagsimula talaga kami with the idea to use art as an avenue for teaching science.”

As a testament to the broad scope of “making,” exhibitors from outside the field of science will also be present. MA+D Manila, a social enterprise café, will highlight hand-brewed local coffee. Kwago, an independent bookstore, will be there to discuss their mission of creating a platform for independent publishers, writers, and creatives.

IMG_0633.jpg One of the reclaimed wood projects by Michelle Millana of FabLab Mindanao, the region's first digital fabrication laboratory. Millana handles the sourcing, engraving, painting, and varnishing of this decorative item. Photo by NIKKI BONUEL

Some exhibitors, like EJ Escanilla of FabLab Mindanao, are visiting from their hometowns just to showcase their creations. The group will be exhibiting a prototype of a door that opens with facial recognition technology. “We arrived just this morning,” he says on a preview of the event on Thursday afternoon. “I still have to finish the back in time for the fair. I have to put a proxy in the molder.” The young scientist says he hopes to make people understand the basic concepts behind the technology we use everyday.

FabLab is a shared service facility that assists students and small to medium enterprises in Mindanao. The lab works on the production of prototypes and engineering of concepts. FabLab works with DTI, DOST, and the Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology, where EJ is currently studying electronics and computer technology.

FabLab will also showcase the reclaimed wood projects of intern Michelle Millana. Millana sources the wood from scrap and junk shops, and then engraves designs into the wood with FabLab’s milling machine. “She’s quite an inspiration to people, especially to women,” EJ says of Millana, “because they get intimidated and think, ‘It’s just a man’s world.’ In reality, we have lots of girls who use other types of machines.”

IMG_0626.jpg Assorted products were conceptualized by students at the Mindanao State University College of Business Administration and Accountancy and rendered in local bamboo by FabLab Mindanao. Photo by NIKKI BONUEL

Marlo Novino, assistant professor at the Mindanao State University College of Business Administration and Accountancy, also flew in with EJ and some of his students to present their creations. A laptop sleeve that combines a local banig weave with leather accents, and notebooks bound in local bamboo are just some of the selections that will be available for viewing at the MSU CBAA’s booth.

The maker movement now finds itself at the crossroads of science and art. Unlike the fields it fuses, making is free from rigid demarcations. It is deliberately inclusive, freeform, and open-ended. In the come-one-come-all community of makers, there is no seniority or bureaucracy.

Intentionally or otherwise, Philippine big business and government have begun to take part in this global movement. Within our developing nation, the simple premise of the maker movement takes on a specific tone toward developmental progress. If to create is to want for something better, then perhaps we should be making.


For more information about the Manila Mini Maker Faire, visit the Mind Museum website.