PH to launch inter-active game-based apps at Dubai Expo

Published September 30, 2021, 12:31 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippines will launch two apps at the Dubai Expo integrating its deep story of cultural sustainability with the power of technology through highly engaging, interactive digital mobile applications.


The Department of Trade and Industry said the two apps are 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.

DTI said these two apps 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 at the Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open Friday, October 1 until March 31, 2022.

The Covid-delayed Expo 2020 with the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” is the world’s biggest event since the pandemic. The expo will highlight architectural marvels and a long list of technological innovations among the exhibits, or pavilions, showcasing the ingenuity of more than 190 countries.

The launch of the two apps is set to elevate the Philippines creative industries in animation, software and game development, DTI said.

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.


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,” 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 guide, it utilizes multimedia elements such as visual, and 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 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 @ 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.

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.

DTI explained that the Philippine pavilion, organically shaped like the Bangkóta—the ancient term for “coral reef” in the language Tagalog—updates knowledge about the Philippines, an archipelagic nation that nourished a collective, sea-oriented culture for millennia.

The Philippines pavilion presents contemporary expressions in architecture, art, and design that links the deep past with the future of connectivity for the Filipino. It is conceptualized and actualized by Architect Royal Pineda of Budji+Royal Architecture+Design and independent curator Marian Pastor Roces.