Arts & Entertainment

LOOK: A ‘Game of Thrones’-Themed Map of the Philippines

Kid Villafuerte Soltis has made over 30 different versions of the Philippine map.
IMAGE Facebook/Philippine Map
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The premiere of the eighth season of Game of Thrones is just days away. Ahead of the final season of the acclaimed fantasy drama series, a GoT-inspired Philippine map has its made rounds on social media.

Cartographer hobbyist Kid Villafuerte Soltis posted the map on his Facebook page on March 14, 2019. Using the distinct epic style of GoT, he charted the diverse ethnic groups found in the country.

“I was inspired to do the GoT-themed map because it is my favorite TV series and I know a lot of people will relate to me. So one day I thought, ‘Why don’t I do a GoT theme for my Philippine map, and our ethnic groups will be the houses just like in the show? And I will think of the sigil symbols of each ethnic groups.’ It really got me excited that time,” Soltis shared.

But while many appreciated Soltis’ work, several also criticized the lack of proper representation on the map. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2013, the Philippines has an estimated 110 ethnolinguistic groups all over the archipelago. Soltis’ map, however, only presented 25 ethnic groups.

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The 34-year-old full-time architect acknowledges this and explained that it wasn’t his intention to misrepresent the ethnic groups in the country.

“It took me two days to finish [the map], including designing every sigil. It didn't take me long to research—my references were Google and Wikipedia only. I'm not an expert in ethnicity and apparently, it sparked a lot of debate. I didn't expect it to actually reach millions of people,” he explained.

Still, the map has gained a lot of traction on Facebook—almost 22,000 reactions, 47,000 shares, and over 3,600 comments as of this writing. The GoT-themed map is Soltis’ most popular posted work so far.

Kid Soltis, the architect/cartographer

Soltis has been enamored by maps for as long as he can remember, but he only started making them in 2018. He said that seeing the works of David Garcia, a Filipino geographer and cartographer based in New Zealand, inspired him to finally try out his own map-making skills.

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“I remember asking myself then: ‘How many Jollibee branches [are there] in the Philippines and where are they located? David Garcia probably won’t do it. Maybe I can do it [instead].’ That’s how it started,” he said.

Soltis only does maps in his spare time as he is a professional architect based in Singapore. A graduate of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Soltis has been working with an architectural firm since 2009.

“I do it as a hobby, whenever I'm not doing anything. It’s for personal fun and is a therapeutic thing for me,” he said.

In the last two years, Soltis has made and posted over 30 versions of the Philippine map on Facebook. The themes are broad, ranging from the location of airports and museums to more complex ideas, such as charting the wealth distribution and types of climates experienced all over the country.

When asked if he ever thought of monetizing his maps, Soltis said: “Monetize my maps? Probably not. It’s for all who want it.”

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About The Author
Pauline Macaraeg
Esquire Philippines
Pauline is Esquire Philippines’ data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg.
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