Preview of Philippines ‘Bangkóta’ Pavilion’s game-based learning app

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – In the run-up to the forthcoming opening of Expo 2020 Dubai on 1st of October this year, the Philippines integrates its deep story of cultural sustainability with the power of technology through highly engaging, interactive digital mobile applications that will take Expo 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 Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (PDTI), the lead implementing agency of the Philippines’ participation at the Expo 2020 Dubai, 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.  These 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 Filipino game developer 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. 

In this light-hearted, educational game app, 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.

For Palabay, Bangkóta is a brave and aspirational undertaking that provides an insight into 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,” said Palabay.

Meanwhile, 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 guides, it utilizes multimedia elements such as visual, text-based, and voice-based interfaces, which will enhance the visitors’ journey experience.

The users of the ‘Bangkóta Trivia Quest’ and the ‘Mobile Visitor Journey’ will interact with an adventurous, nimble, and playful animated character named Magbun, a.k.a ‘Ube Boy’, the official mascot of the Bangkóta. Acquainting the app 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 Expo 2020 Dubai, using Ube Boy as the main character.

Liongoren stated, “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.”

Angeles underscored, “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.”

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-traveling culture with the waters connecting them, the 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, the PDTI will also stage Philippine creative industries spanning from architecture, design and crafts, visual arts, and performing arts to gastronomy, media, and publication at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Bangkóta Trivia Quest’ and the ‘Mobile Visitors Journey’ apps will soon be available for download through the App Store for IOS and Google Play for Android users.  For more information, you may visit the Philippines Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai official website at    

The Expo 2020 Dubai runs until 31 March 2022. ♦

Date of Release: 7 May 2021