I have not been active in the Iloilo blogging/vlogging community. It is by far more Filipino than foreigner, and I quite frankly have not met any of the others (except Mike Philippines when he was here). I am unsure where I heard about the WordCamp Iloilo but I sure am glad I did!
WordCamps are run by volunteers in countries all around the globe. They are conferences to teach & promote WordPress. I have used WordPress for my blog for almost 10 years but pretty much just for a basic blog. I really had no idea how much it could be used for. WordPress is the fastest growing CMS (content management system) and runs 30% of the web. That is a pretty big piece of the pie. So why not learn more? Also, WordCamp Iloilo seemed like a good excuse to spend the weekend in the city. Even my wife joined me (not at WordCamp Iloilo, but in the city & hotel).
Anyway, I have always been into tech. My first college programming course was Basic, using DOS 1.1,,, yeah.,. I am older than dirt ha ha The conference sounded like a fun weekend – I have an odd sense of fun?
Check in and lecture organization
The conferences are heavily sponsored, so the ticket prices will not keep too many people away. For the 2 day conference, 17 speakers, a t-shirt, and way too much food, the cost of a basic ticket was only p750 ($15 USD!?). Can’t argue with the price. They even had t-shirts in fat American sizes ha ha
The check-in was fast and efficient. I was pleasantly surprised. There were approx 300 attendees and they got us processed and settled very quickly.
Day 1 had two lecture rooms. One for beginners and one for advanced. I was going to be mostly in the beginner room. There was only one advanced lecture I wanted (and luckily the beginner class at the same time was one I did not want to attend).
The 2nd day was all plenary lectures, so only one room. First day lectures were more specialized, like block editing, plugin writing etc. The plenary lectures were more general and applied to all (or at least most) of us.
One small glitch
The only glitch of the weekend was a schedule change in the order of lectures, after lunch on day 1. After lunch I was planning on going to the first session in the beginner room, then the second session in the advanced room. But due a last minute schedule decision… the two I wanted were going to be simultaneous. I had to attend Gutenberg For Beginners, so missed Design to Server (In the cloud). Big bummer, but I survived.
Most of the lectures were very informative. Not all applied to me, but I am sure that my favorite lectures may not have applied to everyone either. Good mix of information.
With 17 lecturers not all will apply to everyone. That is to be expected, but a vast majority of it was exactly what I was looking for. My main goal was to learn more about the new editor on WordPress – Gutenberg. It is a block form page editor and feels very clunky to learn (it really makes me miss FrontPage!). But after talking to 2 of the lecturers, and following some of their tips, I am getting hang of Gutenberg and am really starting to enjoy it (check out my About page, I had fun with it). This post was also written using the new editor (my first blog post with it).
That is one thing I really liked about the conference – all the lecturers were available for questions after their lectures. There was a “happiness table” where they hung out to chat. I spoke to a couple and we agreed it would be a happier table with some gin but alas, no alcohol allowed ha ha. I talked to 2 of the guys about the block programming and they agreed the package released by WordPress is a bit lacking. Then they recommended some good Gutenberg plugins for to install. Man, that made all the difference in the world.
If you are blogging with the new Gutenberg editor and not using Kadence blocks and Ultimate Addons For Gutenberg – you should be! Otter and Jetpack also have some nice blocks, but Kadence and Ultimate are really useful. The 2 lecturers I talked to recommended one each, then looked at each other and both said ‘yeah, that is a good one too’. So with both making the same 2 suggestions, I would be a fool to ignore their advice. That was, after all, the main reason I attended.
So for me, the first couple lectures more than paid the price of admission. And I had a really good time, too.
One thing I found interesting, and it shows my age ha ha… I was using pen & paper to take notes. Most of the other attendees were taking pictures of the slides. Pretty good idea!
So I ended up taking quite a lot of pictures of slides as well. It is actually a great note taking system – and saves trees.
I should not have been surprised. During check in WordCamp Iloilo said not to print your ticket, but show the email on your phone. Again, to save trees. I am too old to think of those things 😎
Good food, and plenty of it
The food must also be mentioned. It was provided by the Iloilo Convention Center (ICON) but ended up being a really nice part of the weekend. I knew they were providing a buffet lunch each day but did not know they also were giving us breakfast and merienda.
Day 1 was arroz caldo for breakfast, a nice buffet lunch, and pancit bihon for merienda. Day 2 was pancit molo for breakfast, another nice buffet lunch, and a pork siopao for merienda. All I had to buy was dinner, and a little rum to sneak in, in my cokes… oh… did I say that out loud?
Final thoughts #WordCampIloilo2019
Again I must say that the volunteer organizers of WordCamp Iloilo did a great job! Very well organized and efficiently run. The first day ran like clockwork. The second day they were ready on time, but many of the attendees were late. So we were 1 hour late is starting, but by lunch were back on schedule.
I found out the Iloilo WordPress group has monthly meetups and I think I would like to go to a meeting to see how it goes.
Who knows, I might be a volunteer next year.
Another big thanks to the great volunteers at WordCamp Iloilo 2019 for all their hard work. https://www.facebook.com/WordPressIloilo