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The streeets are open in Tagaytay

Last Saturday was a perfect day for a Mapping Party. Especially when it is the first in the Philippines, if not in South East Asia or Asia.

It was first planned around February or March, but due to some commitment problems, it was temporarily shelved. After the API upgrade (from 0.5 to 0.6 last April 17-21), I suggested that the OSM community should revive the plans for that mapping party. After a couple of weeks of discussion on the mailing list (and planning), the awaited day came. This story started between 4:30 AM to 9:30 PM, with a lot of gaps placed due to privacy and personal reasons.

It started when I was awakend by my cellphone alarm. Since Tagaytay (via Santa Rosa) is far, me and my mother (Cathy) decided to travel at around 5:30 AM. The only bad news is that there are no Garage to Terminal vans bound for Balibago (place where we take a ride to Biñan or San Pedro) at that time, we decided to take a bus to Turbina.

We are supposed to stop in Turbina, take a passenger jeepney to Calamba Crossing (the intersection in the middle of Calamba City, connecting you to Cabuyao, Los Baños, Santo Tomas/SLEX, and downtown Calamba City), then take another jeepney to Balibago, then take a jeepney to Paseo de Santa Rosa (now known as Paseo Greenfield City. Why there? I’ll tell you in a few sentences.) Instead, there is a jeepney that brings you to Balibago from Turbina. To be specific, it is just a few steps from the 7 Eleven (located at the Flying V gas station, accross Petron). After passing through SLEX, we stopped at the Santa Rosa exit.After 10 to 20 minutes of waiting for another commuter in a tricycle (a motorcycle with a side car used in transporting people in the Philippines), both of us were moving towards Paseo de Santa Rosa. According to the tricycle driver, it would take 20 minutes to go from the Santa Rosa SLEX Exit to Paseo de Santa Rosa, if and only if there is not traffic.

After that ride, we proceeded to Jollibee Paseo where we had our breakfast (around 7 AM. We ate slower than usual and finished at around 7:45 AM. Between that time and around 8:15 AM, we mostly waited. She was reading a book (don’t know which title and/or genre) while I was browsing my planner. After a few minutes, I received a SMS message from Eugene Alvin Villar, a fellow OSMer and Wikipedian (though I may have to semi-retire due to inactivity and a bit of apathy). He told me that he is riding in a Honda City and he is on his way.

After a certain amount of time was spent on driving and other things, we reached Starbucks Tagaytay, where we met other mappers on the second floor of the said establishment. I met Maning for the second time, and met other mappers as well. Ed Garcia of WaypointsDotPh (who had to leave Tagaytay at lunctime because he had to go to Nasugbu), Rally de Leon, Neil Nacario and Andre Marcelo-Tanner joined the team at Starbucks. Rem Zamora, who works for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, joined Rally and Neil in the mapping part later on. We had some mapping and OSM-related discussion, and divided the cake into four pieces, as shown below.

Ed and his family mapped the northwestern Tagaytay-Alfonso-Mendez area, while Maning and Andre did downtown Tagaytay. Rally, Rem and Neil did parts of Tagaytay between the downtown area and the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road. Eugene and I did areas east of the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road.

The Tagaytay cake and its slices

Above pic shows the Tagaytay cake and its slices (to get the full pic, please click on “View Image”. Other browsers may vary on how to get this image.)

We then proceeded to our respective vehicles and went on mapping Tagaytay. For the three of us (me, my mother, and Eugene) went off towards our slice. The first side street that we got into was Saint Francis Drive. Thankfully, it’s length is just around 200-600 meters. The first real mapping chalenge is the Picnic Grove Park. The zipline is too much, but we managed to get good details of the area. To be honest, it was tiring but worth it. The next one is the People’s Park in the Sky where I tried to take a set of pics for a future panorama pic. We saw a few signs that this place is being restored (hopefully to its future glory) and went back tracing a some nearby roads. We first turned right at a checkpoint (more of a guardhouse, which doesn’t notice our presence) and after reaching a point (at one point, a certain kind of landscape kinda repeated after a hundred meters), we turned back towards the checkpoint and went to another side street, which could be a potential shortcut.

As we come close to a dirt track, one of us realized that we are in Cabuyao, Laguna. After reaching a school, we had to turn back to Tagaytay (and find a few more side streets). But before that, the car headed for Tagaytay Highlands. The bad news is that it’s “members only”, as the sentry-slash-checker-of-the-Highand’s-“registry-list” said. (I do hope that they at least give some access to the main road/s.) Still, we’re back on the road back to Tagaytay and it’s side streets and more side streets. However, we “slipped into a private residential area” and got in because we somewhat posed to be buyers (almost the same strategy that Maning and Andre used to get in private subdivisions).Here’s what happened (in script form, very sketchy):

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Three people in a sedan tries to go inside a private subdivision, parts of it are still under construction. One of the security personnel asked us where we are going and if we had a brochure advertising the said place. Fortunately, the teenager with glasses that make him look too old told him that he had the brochure in his bag.

Security: Did you have the contact detail of the selling agent?

Teenager: Yes, but I accidentally erased it, thinking that it was the number of my ex(-girlfriend), who is now in California.

Security: Okay…

Suddenly, another selling agent went to the sedan and asks some questions to the driver. Fortunately, they were allowed inside the said area (and hopefully, Eugene gets to share his side of this experience)

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After going inside that place, which is beyond the six kilometer danger zone surrounding the Taal Volcano area (as noted by someone who’s inside the said place; this is ABSOLUTELY NOT Tagaytay Highlands. One clue: Swiss-themed.) we went off to map other side streets (after leaving the said private residential area), and Eugene decided at one point to map out a residential area (since it has some kind of grid structure). At one point, a rock which weighs at least 3-5 kilos hits the sedan and nearly screws the lower part of the car. At least the car was back on the road in 5 minutes and didn’t have to suffer anymore.

Back at Starbucks, we had another meet-up, which involved two more people (there are more on the web/IT side of things than on mapping) and we loaded a good number of our tracks for a video presentation (available here)

The final result: Tagaytay becomes one of the few places in the world where Google gets pwned. Bigtime.

Maning also has his post regarding the mapping party here. (UPDATE: Eugene posted his side of the mapping party here.)

Analysis: The mapping party means that future mappers (and potential tourists) that will use OSM in their trips to Tagaytay don’t have to get lost and waste time and money to ask for directions. It will help some of the said people to be potential OSM contributors. For now, Tagaytay is mostly complete. It only needs a few more refinements and some undiscovered streets, highways and tracks. (And also, someone with a membeship in Tagaytay Highlands, so that it can be finally on OpenStreetMap. Seriously.)

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