June 25, 2019 Untold Stories of The Filipino Design Community – Topcoder Nation Ep. 07

Picture a beautiful green village, semi-asphalted sidewalks, houses that rest among palm, avocado and mango trees. It’s 5 AM in the morning, a 7 month-old baby girl wakes up along with her mother and father. Her dad, this young man, plays with the baby while mom gets ready to feed the heiress to the Iloilo throne and go to teach math in school. He goes downstairs, feeds 13 chickens in the farm, waters the plants, prepares a fried rice breakfast for the family, grabs the fed baby, says bye to mom. From this moment on, he babysits his daughter during the whole day. Topcoder challenges knock on the door. He distracts his baby with games while he works (as much as he can or he is allowed to) until mom comes back from work in the afternoon and he closes everything down; time to be with family again.

This is a regular day in the life of a cape-less hero, a type of lifestyle that people who have a family (kids) can easily relate to. Born and raised in The Philippines, Raymar [tototpc] is an absolutely fascinating young man, a true character. It’s a shame my poor words can not do him justice. I just wish everyone could have the chance to meet such a fantastic, dedicated, disciplined human being. He is truly an inspiration.

This short story shows us a man who lives a simple life by decision rather than by historical chance. Up to the level of not installing air conditioning in the house just because “we don’t really need that, fans are enough”. Consider that the average temperature is 89°F | 32°C with an average humidity of 80%, which makes sticky sweat pour off your body like a fountain or to give a better example, it’s like asking a European person to cook herself slowly to death. Yet it’s not that he cannot afford it, he wisely built his dream house from scratch using his Topcoder earnings as part of the founding – again, it’s a simple life by decision rather than by historical chance.

Graphical representation of a European pain process caused by extreme heat exposure.

Out of the 5,713 members (all tracks) from the Philippines, why do I start with tototpc? Aren’t there other members or virgin beaches to talk about? Simple lifestyle, which leads to one of the most beautiful consequences in self behavior: humility. Personally, I think it’s a connecting characteristic among the Filipino members we had the chance to meet from Topcoder, as well as other people overall. Such kindness is not easy to find, like some sort of phenomena, maybe they put something in the water, too much love for being homo sapiens to my taste ?

The three traveling idiots visited The Philippines and they couldn’t have been luckier than to count on the Topcoder community members to guide them through. Special honors to Raymar who was our host, tour guide and life teacher during this trip – welcome to another episode of Topcoder Nation!


Once a new Topcoder member spends some time within the community, it becomes inevitable to think of the quality and quantity of Indonesian members, country-wise. I can not fool myself by taking Indonesia out of the design strength equation; however, even though The Philippines has fewer members it holds a significant amount of achievements that could open an interesting debate.

Let me try to break this down by sharing some untold stories and facts about these outstanding members who represent not only the technical quality of a designer but the incredibly human quality of a Filipino.

Kristoffer [kristofferrouge]

This man is a living legend. You must think of him as the reason why Topcoder saw potential in creating a design track. He was the first person to ever win a design competition, the very first challenge of the experimental design track back in 2005 (see item #1 in this article for more details).

It’s hard to say that without him I likely wouldn’t be writing these lines for you today or that the design track wouldn’t exist, but something sure is his contribution. Quality wise, he made the dream of having a design track possible  for the Topcoder admins.

I must mention that personally, it was particularly fulfilling to finally meet this legend. During my learning days, I used to follow his practices and design style. I could fairly say I started winning more challenges thanks to Kris, my secret mentor.

Niño [oninkxronda]

A veteran designer holding a huge sack of wins over his shoulders, extremely talented logo designer, and winner of many logo competitions (TCO12 and TCO14 logos among them), he was the reigning TCO08 Design Champion. Lately, he competes only in logo challenges when he has time as his family and full-time job require his dedication. He made it to TCO19 as a trip winner through Jessie’s Design Month Dash Challenge.

Gerald [gh3ablo]

Fastest designer on Earth! This doesn’t mean he doesn’t take care of quality; on the contrary, his designs are incredibly thoughtful. He can be called the challenge sniper with lethal selective capability. If you check his stats, he gets a placement in the podium in almost every challenge he joins. Something worth mentioning: he is the 2018 Superlative Awards Winner in the category of Funniest Member – totally accurate!

Adam [trivia79]

New kid on the block, popularly called the DViz boy for his winning streak in data visualization challenges. He has a strong software development background, winning challenges in the Dev track. He recently joined the blogging team and it’s very likely we will see posts cracking the mental process of visualizing data in such a unique way as he does.

Raymar [tototpc]

This is the interesting character I mentioned at the beginning, a human potential. We can not leave behind his design skills which make him another important figure in the community. Already qualified to TCO19 as we speak, he was an on-site competitor of the TCO15 finals and is a skillful icon designer.

James [quesks]

Veteran copilot, developer and designer, holder of the keys of the TCO websites. Similar to Kris, James is another pioneer of the design community. To think that before the Indonesian dominance era, there used to be a time where Kris, James, and Niño used to rule the podiums of the challenges in which they were involved.


PereViki, mahestro, gh3ablo, oninkxronda, ravijune and kristofferrouge

Coming to The Philippines without seeing any of the pinoy boys was an inconceivable idea. What was even more inconceivable to me was to find out all these folks, after so many years of virtually hanging out never met face-to-face, except for James-Niño who used to work together in a company.

It took us a dozen of jeepneys, a few tricycles and lots of hours to make it there but it was darn worthy! What an honor to be part of this ephemeral event, a moment to write in the Topcoder Nation history books. June 9th 2019, three idiots (Viki, Ravi and me) witnessed and shared the first Philippino community meeting ever! After all, a trip is worth the knowledge you gain and the people you meet. The people we met were way beyond fantastic. Selamat po amigos! 

Special mention to gh3ablo who bused his rear parts off during a 9.5 hour trip to get to Manila, the meeting point (plus the same time coming back home).

That’s all folks. See you next time for another episode of this series. Peace out!



Are you living the gig economy lifestyle at Topcoder? Want to join fellow members? Share your story, your travels, and experiences about the ultimate goal of working at Topcoder; the freedom, the flexibility, and the earnings that make it happen! Join Topcoder Nation.

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