Dubai: Visitors to Bangkóta, the Philippine Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, will enjoy a game-based learning app and interactive mobile tour for “an immersive experience into the nation’s ancestral origin and culture,” the lead implementing agency of the country’s participation at Expo 2020 announced on Tuesday.
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Bangkóta Trivia Quest, a gaming app, and Mobile Visitor Journey app will “acquaint users with the ancestral origins of the Philippines,” spanning an era of four millennia.
The app users will interact with an adventurous, nimble, and playful animated character named Magbun, also known as Ube Boy, the official mascot of the Bangkóta. Ube Boy translates the Filipino identity in animation to reach the Expo’s younger audience who will seek to cultivate a keen understanding and appreciation of the Filipinos’ Austronesian lineage.”
“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 Bangkóta and the Philippines, players have the opportunity to win prizes from the Go Lokal! Boutique at Area 6 of the Pavilion,” DTI explained.
Bangkóta, the ancient term for “coral reef” in Tagalog, is the name and inspiration for the Philippine Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open its doors on October 1 and will run until March 31 next year. It is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the first to be hosted by an Arab nation.
The Philippine Pavilion is organically shaped like a coral reef, showcasing an archipelagic nation that nourished a collective, sea-oriented culture for thousands of years.
Filipino game developer James Palabay and his team at Digital Art Chefs, who created Bangkóta Trivia Quest, said: “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. 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.”
Austronesians are a large group of various peoples in Taiwan (collectively known as Taiwanese indigenous peoples), Maritime Southeast Asia, Oceania and Madagascar who expanded outward from the southeastern shores of continental Asia to Taiwan and then on to Southeast Asia, the islands of Oceania, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands, and eventually Madagascar off the east coast of Africa.
Join Ube Boy’s journey
Meanwhile, Magbun or Ube Boy, a Filipino seafarer and adventurer, will help users of the Mobile Visitor Journey app navigate the Bangkóta Pavilion. The animated character was created by Filipino filmmaker and animator Avid Liongoren as wells as production firm Twenty Manila, led by its creative director Manny Angeles.
Liongoren said: “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 added: “Bangkóta celebrates the extent of how we Filipinos have spread ourselves across the world. It also shows that the Filipinos have a thriving culture before ‘welcoming’ guests from overseas in 1521.”
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. Aside from new media, DTI 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.