Motif Swatches
Population Symbologies

The best thing in life is when you engage in an activity that holds a fusion of multiple goals. When you hit two or three birds in one stone, you accomplish more and the joy is double.

Today, in my case, it was the selection of the proper color swatch for my upcoming wedding fused with the appropriate symbology palettes for the maps that I make for the my client. For the first one, I have full rein of color selection, and I was looking only at certain shades of blue. It’s quite hard to memorize names of the many shades of blue, but I know what I want when I see it.

For my wedding, I need no technical know-how but just the right color palette to choose from before I start thinking of flowers and event venue styling issues:

shade of blue

In the technical scheme of color selection, this translates to representing the data appropriately through a carefully chosen symbol:


Symbologies and swatches both play with the elements of the color wheel. Personally, I like minimalistic maps that are not overly ostentatious and equally minimalistic outfits that go with anything I do.

In my outfits, I like veering safely in the throes of the acceptable classics. No large prints especially in the leg area which makes me feel like a clown. In my personal self-expression and mapping design expression, I likewise prefer to produce something informative, understated, and goes well with any conceivable deliverable whether it is for a Powerpoint presentation or for a PDF report printed out for use.

I find it very interesting that making a map of NCR’s informal settlers can form a silhouette (or so it seems to me) of a female head in side view. 🙂 (And basing on my choice of point colors, she’s a female head with chicken pox concentrated on the face and lots of wrinkles. HAHAHA.)


That did not just happen by merely mixing a bunch of colors. Prior to this, I had to sift through numerous rows of Excel data. Aside from ruminating on how it seems nice to live in the south due to less informal settler congestion, I was also thinking that I needed to present this information well using a color scheme acceptable to the client.

One of the most popular attributes that are depicted visually through maps is population. When I was in college, this was also one of the first lessons taught in our GIS class exercises. Vitamin A is a requirement because you need a very good eye for detail when it comes to doing well in a job like this.

In my present task for mapping the informal settlers, two things posed to be the stumbling block to producing a seamless map almost immediately (aside from color selection!). The first one is the missing puzzle pieces often brought about by incomplete data:

missing barangays

That holed blue chunk looks like a monster staring back at me grumpily and daring me to fix it.

It took me a while to find those missing barangays which seemed like unruly holes in my otherwise full land mass. It did help that there are some Open Source data sets made available by awesome individuals in cyberspace like Philgis and that my present work had a treasure chest chock full of base maps from previous projects that can serve as a worthy comparison. Oh, and it’s good that plate tectonics don’t move too much, otherwise we’d have different shapes and it will be a crazy endeavor to keep track.

Always, there is the not-so-glamorous but ultra-vital task of checking if the data actually makes sense. Columns and columns of information like these need to be thoroughly checked before using these information on the map:

population discrepancy

I had to double check the encoding of the population data on a barangay level so that all the possible maps to be produced out of it make sense. It is much harder to troubleshoot data errors than prevent them, so this painful exercise is a good practice for setting up your base spatially. NSO population data proves to be comprehensive and organized with its yearly publication but when you are going to analyze an NPA-inhabited area, for example, it’s hard to tell if the household survey staff was really able to count everyone or they just made estimates for fear of not being able to return to civilization.

The mountainous regions are also problematic to take census data of. Someone merely looking at the map’s raw data without prior knowledge of these tiny geographic considerations will find it anomalous. So, it’s really important that you somehow know the area of interest before you make maps out of it. That way, you will be able to make maps that make sense even with the weird factors in the bag of mapping considerations.

The principles of color are really fascinating and I feel really happy that I am REQUIRED to master it to a certain extent to be able to do my job well. It just has a lot of tangible applications that I did not give it sufficient credit when I was still studying in UP.  These color exercises are really quite a charm to look into on a daily basis. <3 <3 <3 I actually think mapping subjects are good prerequisite courses for knowing more about how to mix and match outfits, accessories, and shoes. Aren’t map sheets like canvases of the cartographer’s artistry? In the same light, our bodies can be like maps: they speak a language and they respond to colors in different ways, depending on what you’ve been given.

Some months back, I have heard someone say that geek is actually the new sexy. I think I agree. Just imagine this: if you master these RGB thingamajigs of mapping and translate the universal principles well through the clothes that you wear, I doubt if there’s anyone on earth who will dare call you a fashion impaired person. 🙂 And thanks to GIS software’s numerous color palettes, any mapping girl can actually stroll inside a mall and know the precise shade that she’d like in your next pair of sweater or shoes. 🙂

And while I ruminate on my luck that my work pursuits are in sync with my personal styling pursuits, I just pleasantly discovered that my wedding swatch of choice happens to fall between the RGB values of Dark Navy and Ultra Blue. 🙂 Sweet, sweet, mapping life!





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