BARELY had typhoon Yolanda left Cebu in November when local developers buckled down to build systems to help in rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts.

Couple Kristoffer Vincent Loremia and Yvonne, who sought shelter with their newborn child Xhian Kriztoffer in Carmen, created a separate page for Yolanda in their award-winning Tudlo project.

Tudlo, a system and mobile application that helps people prepare for, deal with and recover from disasters, was among this year’s top projects to come out of Cebu.

The Tudlo team is a recipient of a grant from Smart Communications, Inc. through the Manny V. Pangilinan group-backed IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. It was a finalist in IdeaSpace’s first nationwide search for startups to fund and incubate held this year.

It is now being piloted in Albay with the help of its local government unit, one of the trailblazers in disaster preparedness in the country.

Tudlo was also named one of the winners of the 10 Young Innovators Competition organized by the United Nations-backed International Telecommunication Union.

Emergence of community

Another team led by Albert Padin of SpellDial fame held a hackathon the day after Yolanda left Cebu to build a website to help in relief efforts. They came up with the foundation of what will later become the #BangonPH website that very same day.

Various other groups in Cebu coordinated and helped spread word on relief efforts using online tools like Facebook.

A year defined by twin calamities that caused horrendous damage in Central Visayas saw the emergence in Cebu of the local tech startup community, which had largely been working in the fringes of the business community for years.

Tudlo, SpellDial, MiCab, MediFund, MyNimo and Edroll are some of the Cebu startups

that rose into prominence this year.

In June, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry included for the first time Startup Weekend Cebu as an official activity of its annual Cebu Business Month., a community founded by Tina Amper, successfully organized the country’s biggest tech and startup gathering “Geeks On A Beach” in Boracay Island last September 26 and 27.

Amper and Jojo Flores, who started the ON3 Startup Pitching Competition, were among the early community organizers who held pitching events and meetups that snowballed into the active and growing local startup community Cebu is seeing now. Apart from leading, Amper is also the organizer of Startup Weekend in Visayas and Mindanao.

Supporting local startups is the incubation facility hosted by the University of the Philippines Cebu. The UP Cebu - Department of Science and Technology facility Cebu Business Incubator in IT, which is currently filled up with locators.

2013 saw Cebu startups starting to take a more active part in the community. This year, they are poised to take an even bigger role.