LGBT advocates and allies map the most unmapped towns in the Philippines on OpenStreetMap

Updated: Jan 5

MapBeks, an emerging mapping community in the Philippines and one of the 2020 Facebook and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Community Impact Microgrant awardee, launched its UNMAPPED PH (Unmapped Philippines) campaign last September 2020. This project aims to map the most remote and unmapped towns in the country on OpenStreetMap (OSM) through training and encouraging LGBT advocates and allies.

The selection of the towns was based on a study by Thinking Machines PH last June 2020. The study showed the level of OSM building footprint completion at the community, town, and provincial level in the Philippines. The results also identified 24 towns that did not have a single building footprint on OSM. These areas are home to more than 500,00 individuals or 100,000 families, and are located in the most remote areas in the country.

(Left) OSM building footprint completion by Thinking Machines PH. The orange shades represent areas with low completion. (Right) Location of towns with no single building footprint on OSM.

With the limited time and resources, MapBeks only planned to map out 3 of the 24 towns and conduct 3 OSM webinars for various LGBT organizations, individuals, and allies. This would also include to train more than 150+ contributors and promote OSM mapping in the LGBT community. The target communities for the project will be Ferrol and San Andres in Romblon island and the municipality of Mangudadatu in Maguindanao.


The OSM Trainings were schedule for the month of October 2020. These were then divided into 3 smaller trainings to accommodate participants from the 3 island groups of the Philippines - Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. A total of 111 participants joined the webinars while 24 partner organizations helped out in advertising the project to their social media networks.


UNMAPPED PH partner LGBTQI+, AIDS Service, and Ally Organizations.

With the amazing progress of completely mapping the first 3 towns, MapBeks launched 5 more towns including

  1. Pio V. Corpuz (Masbate)

  2. Santa Maria (Romblon)

  3. Bacolod-Kalawi (Lanao del Sur)

  4. Lumbaca-Unayan (Lanao del Sur)

  5. Tubaran (Lanao del Sur)

They partnered with the HIV and AIDS Support House (HASH) to link it with the Bikes for Beks Project - a donation driver which aims to purchase 4 bicycles for 4 LGBT frontliners from the said organization. With the transport restrictions set by the pandemic lockdowns in Metro Manila, the bicycles will allow our community frontliners to provide community-based HIV screening, psychosocial support, and delivery of life-saving medicine to the persons living with HIV community (PLHIV). Aside from in-kind donations, each building footprint created with the hashtag #bikesforbeksHASH was a direct donation in the purchase of the bicycles. MapBeks was successful in donating 3 bicycles and getting a lot of support in completing the newly opened tasks.

Pink Rainbow bicycles donated to HASH by MapBeks through the #BikesforBeks Campaign.

MapBeks also launched an online mapping competition to include the remaining 14 towns. The contest run through the whole month of November. The top OSM contributors of each week will get to win cash and phone credits. Participants are judged based on accomplished tasks, buildings created, and quality of edits. A total of 87,832 building footprints were accounted for from among 15 active contributors for the whole competition. We were able to open a wild-card 25th town (Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur).

Despite the succeeding typhoons that hit the Philippines last November 2020, MapBeks, with the Ministry of Mapping, UP Resilience Institute Youth Mappers, Mental Health AWhereness, Geoladies PH, and HOT PH, was able to activate and help through disaster mapping in Bicol Region, Marikina City in Metro Manila, and Rodriguez and Montalban in Rizal.


The organization would want to send its utmost gratitude and rainbow love to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and the Facebook Community for the opportunity, empowerment, and trust for the group to jumpstart the project. As we end 2020, MapBeks did not only completely map and validate its planned 3 towns but was also able to amazingly launch and nearly close down ALL 24 towns.

UNMAPPEDPH 2020 Mapping Tasks as of January 2020



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