The Journey

I was known for bringing the flag of the Philippines to the World Robotics Olympiad in Hungary. However, the challenges behind this success story was one that required a lot of convincing for financial support.

September 5, 2019. Hoops Dome Arena at Lapu-lapu City, Cebu. Where my body pumped enough adrenaline in my veins to overtake Lightning Mcqueen. The time where I led my team and my school from a 3-year, always-at-the-bottom-of-the-rankings lose streak, to a spot on the international stage. 

I could already foresee our obvious loss against the likes of prestigious schools with the capability to provide gear and knowledge. So I did what any sane leader would do: I switched categories on a whim. Call it instinct, but I was tired of losing and craved for the thrill of new challenges. We broke down the robot we tried to perfect for a month, and, with our passion reignited, rebuilt it to fit a completely new world. 5 minutes to build and code on the spot for Robot Soccer. God favored us that day, as we won against the third placer due to an own goal. 

Now, we move on to the national competition in Manila. Where, long story short, we were practically banned from playing. The parts used in our robots were compromises since our school was not financially capable enough to provide us with the proper sensor to detect the infrared ball. The sensor used, instead, was an ultrasonic sensor, one intended to supplement the robot's effectivity in scoring goals. Luckily, we made it into the semi-finals by manually coding the logic alone--without the appropriate sensor. Fortunately, on the day of the finals, one team who did not make it lent us the parts. We lost that year but it was a learning experience. 

The following year, we continued the same path and thankfully made it to the nationals again. The only difference was, the community in Lapu-lapu lent us parts and we tapped into an engineer friend for guidance. He played a significant role in our success by introducing us to the PID Control System: a self-correcting algorithm. This sounds good, right? Wait 'till you realize it actually happened a few days before the actual national. I vividly remember the night before the competition proper, we, 2 timid grade 10 students, had to study a few college-level concepts to hone our bot even more. In the contest proper, we made a few friends in Manila and managed to land 3rd place, securing my team a spot in the finals. 

Before the glorious nights in Europe, we were faced with yet another financial dillema: the money needed to fund our flight and stay in Hungary. We knocked many doors, hoping for kind hearts to open up. It was a long, but rewarding journey. In the end, the mayor of Lapu-lapu City, Hon. Ahong Chan, came to our aid. A core memory that will forever inspire me and my team.