With its cerulean waters surrounding stretches of white sandbars, majestic nature trails harboring rare flower species, and sites honoring a not too distant historical event, Antique has piqued the interest of travelers who prefer the off the beaten path.
Antiqueños are proud of their province and are spreading the word about it further by tapping into the digital space with the help of mobile innovations.
PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications and InnoPub Media recently released the Antique Guide app, bringing the digital tourism program to the province. The app contains information useful to visitors and students, such as historical background, local folklore and other interesting cultural trivia. It also lists things to do and places to see.
Improve tourism, communications
Did you know that Rafflesia speciosa, one of the world’s largest flowers, can be found in Antique? Or that the first Malay inhabitants in the Philippines established their permanent settlement in the province? Facts and other details such as these are available on the app.
“We hope more people will discover what our place has to offer,” said Gov. Rhodora Cadiao. “We thank Smart for helping to improve our tourism and communication efforts by making these services available and accessible through mobile phones.”
The digital tourism program also includes the installation of markers with quick response (QR) codes and near field communication (NFC) chips in popular tourist spots and heritage sites. Through an NFC chip or QR code reader, mobile users will get on their phones detailed information about the said landmark.
The app is now available as a free download for both Android and iOS devices. The guide may also be accessed at myguide.ph/antique.
“Our technology for development initiatives aim to use mobile innovations to help improve lives in our communities. We are pleased that Antique will now benefit from digital technologies,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.
The initial batch of QR code markers will be deployed to the following sites: Anini-y town and its Spanish-era church; Hamtic, home to the Malandog marker commemorating the establishment of the first Malaysian settlement in the Philippines; Antique provincial capitol; the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park, named after the former governor whose heroism was seen as catalyst in the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship; and the capital town of San Jose de Buenavista.
More QR code markers will be deployed in other areas within the province, according to InnoPub cofounder Max Limpag. “We hope to showcase more of Antique into the digital space, and the best way to do that is to bring the information straight to users’ mobile phones,” Limpag said.
To help enhance efforts in communication, as well as disaster preparedness, Smart also turned over to Antique its Infocast system. Smart Infocast is a short message service (SMS) broadcast platform that will enable the provincial government to send news updates, weather alerts, and other important information to its constituents through text message.
With the Smart Infocast, provincial authorities can send relevant updates to subscribers, who, in turn, can also send reports and feedback by replying to the message.
Deliver tourism, cultural, historical information
In partnership with government units, the digital tourism program of Smart and InnoPub is a nationwide initiative that harnesses technology to deliver tourism, cultural, and historical information to more mobile users. The program was launched in 2012 and has since been implemented in Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Baguio City, and Metro Manila, among other areas. It involves the creation of tourism apps and e-guides, and the installation of interactive markers in selected landmarks to trigger the download of more information.
Smart Infocast, for its part, has boosted the communication efforts of the institutions where it has been implemented, among them government units and agencies, and other organizations. It is part of Smart’s #SafePH advocacy, which promotes the use of technology to help mitigate disaster risk in communities.