The Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor has become the country’s first historical and heritage site with augmented reality-enhanced war museum after it launched the first phase of the digital innovation on Thursday.
The augmented reality (AR) system was introduced through the partnership of the Mt. Samat Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (FTEZ), the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and technology-based solution company Eastmart Reality Innovators.
“The introduction of the 3D Augmented Reality feature in the Underground Museum made Mt. Samat the first historical site and war museum in the country with the AR technology,” Mt. Samat FTEZ Administrator Francis Theodore B. Initorio said.
The breakthrough has also changed the historical tour experience in the Shrine of Valor as the AR makes the exhibits interactive, allowing maximum involvement of the visitors.
The first phase of the project includes the integration of computer-generated content and animation overlaid on the war museum exhibit. The animation, which will be seen through an AR mobile application, provides facts and information about the World War II. The AR mobile app can only be downloaded inside the museum but can be used anywhere thereafter.
Moreover, merchandises and memorabilia with QR codes for holographic displays were also launched.
The virtual reality system, meanwhile, will be unveiled in the last phase of the project, while more AR codes and digital features are expected to be integrated in various facilities of the Shrine of Valor in the second and third phases. These full features will be introduced to the public next year.
The Mt. Samat FTEZ, under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), initially proposed the project in 2018 as part of the initiative to have new curatorial design in the Underground Museum. More importantly, it is in line with the vision of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat to further boost the country’s tourism, especially the historical sites, by integrating augmented reality features in museums and destinations.
“The AR technology is actually being eyed by the DOT to be used in top tourist destinations and historical sites, like the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor, Intramuros and Corregidor. It’s an added feature that will encourage the youth to visit historical sites, and to understand the Philippine history better by using new technology and gadgets,” said Atty. Karen Mae Sarinas-Baydo, Assistant Chief Operating Officer of TIEZA for TEZ Management Sector.
Meanwhile, the representatives of the Mt. Samat FTEZ Stakeholders graced the launching program as they expressed support to the project.
“The PVAO supports the use of digital innovation in the war museum. We expect that this will lure more tourists to Mt. Samat,” said BGen. Restituto Aguilar, the Chief of PVAO Veterans Memorial and Historical Department, during his welcome remarks in the launching program.
To complement the developments under the FTEZ program, the PVAO is also planning to install a series of life-sized diorama of the Battles of Bataan in the war museum, which will also be equipped with AR and virtual reality.
“World-class facilities are expected in Mt. Samat as this not only helps us study the World War II history but also encourages the youth to see the importance of our history in relation to the independence that we have now,” Bataan 2nd District Congressman Jose Enriquez Garcia III said in his message.
“The Mt. Samat Underground Museum will benefit from the AR system. At the same time, the youth will also benefit from this interactive app, as they will have new and better ways to learn more about our history,” he added.
The Congressman added that the development is very timely as he recently presented a bill that will mandate the inclusion of visits in historical and heritage sites in the off campus activities of public and private schools in the country.
Bataan Gov. Albert Garcia, meanwhile, congratulated the Mt. Samat FTEZ, TIEZA and DOT for the project. He reiterated his commitment to fully support the developments in Mt. Samat, which he envisions as one of the most recognized heritage sites in the country and in Asia.
Phases of Implementation
The Augmented Reality project, developed by the Eastmart Reality Innovators, has four phases, including the introduction of new museum curatorial design and content, and virtual reality technology.
“It is our goal to spark new interest to the historical shrine by adding new ‘experiential attraction’. Employing AR will result to a compelling visitor experience and will create more emotionally-engaged and inspired viewers and tourists,” said Mr. Allan Inton, the president of Eastmart.
The initial phase and jump off point is integrated only in the Underground Museum. The second phase of the project is expected in the Shrine Site’s Memorial Cross. Eastmart will put QR codes on the bass relief of the Memorial Cross.
The third phase, on the other hand, will transform the right wing of the Memorial Cross Viewing Gallery into an AR Room. Lastly, Eastmart will also introduce a virtual reality (VR) experience. The VR technology will have role playing games, which will be incorporated in various facilities of the Shrine Site. Visitors can follow historical timelines depending on the roles they choose to play in the VR system.
Operation and Merchandises
By scanning museum quick response (QR) codes using Eastmart tablets and phones installed with AR mobile app, tourists can view animations and short videos excerpts from the World War II studies. The Eastmart tablets can be rented by tourists before they enter the museum.
Tourists can also buy AR cards for only Php50, which have mobile app link and QR codes for animated holographic display. Numbers are indicated in the museum panels to guide the visitors where to start their AR tour.
The AR souvenirs being sold also include printed and e-copies of photo booth, mugs, totebags, and dri-fit and cotton shirts. The can be purchased with the following price:
AR Mugs Php 100
AR Cards Php 50
AR Totebags Php 200
AR Drifit and Cotton Shirts Php 350
AR Photo booth with print and e-copy Php100
AR Photo booth with e-copy for social media posting Php80
AR Photo Booth wows guests as their image is augmented with virtual 3D props over a large-screen display. The guests interact and control the experience using hand gestures to create an extraordinary photo keepsake. Backgrounds and props are all related to Mt. Samat War Museum.
The AR feature is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Mondays to Sundays.
The Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor has been declared as a Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone through the inter-agency partnership of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Provincial Government of Bataan and Municipality of Pilar. The declaration is part of the initiative to make the heritage site the premier historical tourism hub in the country.