Filipino teens showcase DIY droids in World Robot Games

Arthur Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2017 08:18 AM | Updated as of Nov 10 2017 11:27 AM

James Louis de Luna, a student from Tagaytay City Science National High School, prepares his "sumobot" for competition. Nov. 9, 2017. Arthur Fuentes, ABS-CBN NEWS

SINGAPORE - High School student James Louis de Luna and his team hope to give the Philippines its best showing at the World Robot games here that starts on Friday with their "sumobot" or wrestling droid.

The 16-year-old and his teammates from the Tagaytay City Science National High School won a silver medal in the Australian Robotic Challenge in Queensland ahead of the weekend games here, where 125 Filipinos will compete.

“Nung bata pa po ako, mahilig na po ako sa mga technology. Gumagawa ako ng mga laruan. Noong ni-launch po yung (robotics) program sa school namin, nag-join po ako,” said De Luna, who dreams of becoming an aeronautics or communications engineer.

(I was always interested in technology, even as a kid. I would make toys. I joined the robotics program in our school when it was launched.)

A delegate from the Philippine Science High School got the most number of medals by a student in last year's WRG in Bandung, Indonesia, where the Philippines won 47 medals.

“Kung sa preparation, prepared kami. Pero magagaling din kasi yung taga ibang bansa,” said De Luna's coach, Mervin Boco. 

(We are prepared, but the delegates from other countries are also good.)

Members of the Philippine delegation to the World Robot Games pose for a group picture at Changi Airport in Singapore, Nov. 9, 2017. Arthur Fuentes, ABS-CBN NEWS

Twenty-one schools in the Philippines are joining the WRG, showing growing interest in robotics, said the Filipino team's sponsor, Data Science Corp vice president Josephine Legaspi.

Even public high schools are launching robotics programs despite expensive equipment costs. Some students get creative, using tin cans and other recyclable materials for their robots, Legaspi said.

Open source microcontrollers like Arduino, the brains of the robots, have also made robotics more accessible, she said.