PH PRIDE. The Philippine Pavilion takes the shape of the bangkóta (coral reef) at the Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The event will run from October 2021 to March 31, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Expo 2020)

MANILA – In the run-up to the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai on October 1, 2021, the Philippines integrates its deep story of cultural sustainability with the power of technology through highly engaging, interactive digital mobile applications that will take visitors on a journey of discovery, allowing them to dive into the nation’s ancestral origin and culture, while introducing the Philippines as a creative nation.

The Department of Trade and Industry (PDTI), lead implementing agency of the Philippine participation, is set to elevate its creative industries in animation, software and game development as it launches a game-based learning app, Bangkóta Trivia Quest and an interactive mobile tour guide app called the Mobile Visitor Journey, together with the Filipino-made animated character, Ube Boy.

The digital creations are exclusively developed by a dedicated powerhouse of gameplay developers, software creators and animators for the country’s participation in the global event.

The Bangkóta Trivia Quest game app, developed and created by James Palabay and his team at Digital Art Chefs, seeks to cultivate a keen understanding and appreciation of the Filipinos’ Austronesian lineage. It will also serve as a “digital gateway” for those who will not be able to visit the country’s pavilion.

The players’ mission is to earn as much stars and suns as the game progresses. By providing the correct answers to a pool of questions covering a diverse range of themes about the Bangkóta and the Philippines, players have the opportunity to win prizes from the Go Lokal! Boutique at Area 6 of the Pavilion.

Understanding PH culture

For Palabay, Bangkóta is a brave and aspirational undertaking that provides an insight of Filipinos’ true origins, inspiring the player for a deeper understanding of cultural sustainability and truthfulness.

“I think what struck me the most as new information was the Austronesian connection. It made me feel more connected to so many other cultures and people. It gives me a richer feeling about our origins as a people and a deeper connection with other people beyond our islands,” he said.

The Mobile Visitor Journey app conceptualized by BBDO Guerrero provides visitors a convenient yet comprehensive guide through all 1,386 square meters of the Bangkóta.

The app features a location identifier that helps visitors navigate through the eight distinct areas within the pavilion, while providing key information about the exhibits and galleries that drive the Bangkóta’s narrative.

Replacing the need for the traditional print maps and actual tour guide, it utilizes multimedia elements such as visual, and text-based and voice-based interfaces, which will enhance the visitors’ journey experience.

Ube Boy

The users of the Bangkóta Trivia Quest and the Mobile Visitor Journey will interact with adventurous, nimble, and playful animated character Magbun, also known as Ube Boy, the official mascot of the Bangkóta.

Acquainting the apps users with the Philippines’ ancestral origin and enduring culture that span four millennia, Ube Boy translates the Filipino identity in animation to reach the Expo’s younger audience.

The animated character was created by Rocketsheep Studio founder, Filipino filmmaker, and animator Avid Liongoren and his team, as well as production firm Twenty Manila, led by its founder and creative director Manny Angeles.

The team of Liongoren and Angeles also co-produced two animated teaser videos about Bangkóta for the Philippines at the Expo 2020 Dubai, using Ube Boy as main character.

“In my field of animation, most Filipino animators are used to either making things look Western or Japanese – it's either superhero style or anime. As a studio, we want to focus on using our own local visual elements in the films we create in hopes of contributing to the creation of a Filipino animation identity,” Liongoren said.

“Bangkóta celebrates the extent of how we Filipinos have spread ourselves across the world. It also shows that the Filipinos have a thriving culture prior to welcoming guests from overseas in 1521,” Angeles added.

Ube Boy’s nature is reborn in every Filipino seafarer and adventurer, which drives the pavilion’s message of Filipino cultural sustainability – water-oriented and seagoing, and thriving in different parts of the world to form communities like coral reefs.

With the Expo 2020 Dubai theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, the Pavilion’s digital creations perfectly attune with the Filipinos’ innate hyper-connectivity – an enduring culture since their earliest ancestral origin.

Emerging from an ocean-going and world-travelling culture with the waters connecting them, Filipinos, scattered across the globe, remain culturally linked to their ancestors and digitally connected with each other through technology.

Aside from new media and audiovisual sectors, DTI will also stage Philippine creative industries spanning from architecture, design and crafts, visual arts and performing arts to gastronomy, media and publication.

Expo 2020 Dubai was scheduled to be a World Expo on October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic reset it to October 2021 until March 31, 2022. (PR)