Home › Newsroom › Filipinos win at Facebook ‘hackathon’
Contest judge and Sony Mobile Developer World Senior Community Manager Marcus Hansson awards Team Chikka members (L-R) Jason Sia, Miko Ignacio, Melvin Fetalvero, and Josh Basarte the Best Use of the Open Graph API prize during the Facebook Mobile Hack event in Singapore.
A contingent from Filipino company Chikka Philippines, Inc. (Chikka), a wholly-owned subsidiary of wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) Monday showed just how hardcore Pinoy programmers can be when it comes to software and app development.
During the Facebook Mobile “hackathon” event in Singapore, an annual contest among crack teams of developers from several Asian countries, Chikka engineers Miko Ignacio, Jason Sia, Josh Basarte, and Melvin Fetalvero bested their counterparts from Thailand, Indonesia, and India as they won the Best Mobile Open Graph award for creating “Hear Me,” an application that lets users post audio notes on their Facebook home page.
A hackathon is a contest where a developer team conceptualizes, programs, and presents an application to judges, all within a very short period of time. In this case, it was just four hours.
“I don’t think we won because of what we came up with in four hours, but because of what ‘Hear Me’ can become, in the hands of other Facebook users and the developer community,” said Chikka team leader Melvin Fetalvero.
“They can surely build on it, run with it, to launch very engaging content; think rapping bouts and ‘pick-up line’ battles. They can now bring those experiences to social media,” Fetalvero explained.
For now, “Hear Me” is an iPhone app that allows users to record a greeting and to post it on a fellow Facebook friend's wall or news feed. Other users can then listen to the recording, like it, and even share it with their friends.
Using open web systems and Facebook’s Open Graph Application Programming Interface (API) which enables developers to create apps that take advantage of Facebook’s social ecosystem, the team was able to create Hear Me in just four hours and without the need to use expensive IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and VOIP (Voice Over IP) systems—technologies used in popular Internet communications software such as Skype and Yahoo! Messenger.
“Like fish to water”
“It seems like only yesterday when we were called the text capital of the world. Today, it’s well documented how we are the ‘social media capital.’ It is why the world tends to expect innovation in this area from Filipinos; we take to social media like fish to water,” said Chikka founder Dennis Mendiola.
Chikka’s flagship Chikka Text Messenger, which in 2001 united online communities with the sea of texters, is probably the world’s first commercially successful integration of web and mobile utilities.
According to Mendiola, Filipinos also invented the card-less over-the-air and peer-to-peer exchange of load between mobiles, now adopted in major mobile markets all over the world. Filipinos further pioneered in user-generated status broadcasts to a base of mobile followers, a precursor to such popular social media apps as Twitter, he said.
“It’s in our DNA. The Philippine delegation to the Facebook hackathon represents some of the world’s finest mobile applications developers. Beyond expertise, talent, and creativity, there is passion and pride in what we do,” said Chikka founder Dennis Mendiola.
The Philippine contingent to the recent Facebook mobile applications competition was composed of veteran and crack programmers from Chikka.
The company recently merged with Wolfpac Mobile Inc., also owned by Smart Communications, to form one of the largest web and mobile applications developers in the Philippines catering to mobile Internet communities that demand apps of high utility and high entertainment value.
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