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A game app is raising awareness on Filipino-Austronesian culture

By Create Philippines
June 23, 2021

Did you ever wonder where the similarities in Southeast Asian languages come from?

“Austronesian” might be the word you’re looking for — a language family attributed to populations in the Malay Archipelago and the Pacific Ocean such as Indonesia and Taiwan — even Madagasar and Chile. Major Austronesian languages include Malay, Javanese, Tagalog and it is spoken by 4.9% of the world’s population. While specific cultures vary between regions, Austronesian-speaking people are united, at varying degrees, by their linguistic heritage and traditions like seafaring and tattooing.

The Philippines are among the largest Austronesian-speaking people in the world and this October, a game-based learning app is launching at the Philippines’ “Bangkóta” pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai, hoping to widen our understanding of this Filipino-Austronesian connection.

Developed by Filipino game developer James Palabay and his team Digital Art Chefs, Bangkóta Trivia Quest puts players on a mission to earn points from answering questions about the Bangkóta pavilion and the Philippines. Bangkóta translates from the ancient Tagalog term for “coral reef” and Palabay believes this concept speaks to a desire for cultural sustainability, providing a glimpse into the Filipinos’ true origins.

“I think what struck me the most as new information was the Austronesian connection,” he said. “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.”

The Department of Trade and Industry Philippines (DTI) is the lead implementing agency of the Philippines’ participating at Expo 2020 Dubai, representing the country in animation, software and game development. Another Filipino app showcasing at the Expo is Mobile Visitor Journey, a mobile guide app providing a tour of the Bangkóta’s 1,386 square meters. Both apps will interact with an animated character named Magbun or “Ube Boy” — the official mascot of the Bangkóta, created by Rocketsheep Studio and Twenty Manila.

Both 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

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