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Smart backs Church heritage conservation through digital tourism

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications supports initiatives toward conservation of the Roman Catholic Church’s cultural heritage as it joins the 11th Biennial National Convention of Church Cultural Heritage Workers at Parklane Hotel, Cebu City, May 6-9.

The convention is organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, University of Santo Tomas Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, and Archdiocese of Cebu. It is supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Defending Family Values Foundation.

Smart recently unveiled interactive tourism markers at Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church in Bantayan, Cebu, as part of a digital tourism and catechism initiative. The markers contain QR codes and NFC chips that mobile users can scan using their phones to get more information about the history and heritage of the place.

Smart’s digital tourism program covers travel destinations and heritage sites, among them nature parks, historic cities, and notable churches.

The initiative harnesses technology to deliver cultural, historical, and travel information to mobile users. It involves the creation of apps, mobile guides, and interactive materials that give tourists and locals comprehensive and localized information about various destinations in the country.

The digital tourism program has also been implemented at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and in heritage churches in Carcar, Argao, Dalaguete, Sibonga, and Boljoon, among other areas in Cebu.

Smart aims to contribute to heritage conservation efforts by disseminating information and promoting awareness of the historic, cultural, and symbolic significance of distinguished churches all over the Philippines.

“Heritage awareness is important in conservation and management efforts. One of the most effective ways to instill respect for culture and heritage is to raise community awareness,” said Smart Visayas-Mindanao public affairs head Maria Jane Paredes.

The convention is part of activities in the run up to the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021. “As the bastion of Christianity in the Philippines, Cebu is home to some of the most prominent churches in the country. We Cebuanos and Filipinos are blessed to have these historically significant churches within our reach, and we should do our best to help take care of these national treasures,” Paredes added.

The digital tourism program is a collaboration by local government units, tourism offices, and dioceses with NCCA, Department of Tourism, Smart, and InnoPub Media. Launched in 2012 in Cebu, it has been implemented in Antique, Baguio City, Bicol Region, Davao and Metro Manila, among other areas.