Smart’s Digital Catechism Program shines at 18th Philippine Quill Awards

PLDT’s wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) recently reaped recognition in Digital Catechism at the 18th Philippine Quill Awards.

The recognition, part of the group’s stable of winning programs and campaigns, champions combined efforts for advancing innovations to strengthen nationalism and faith in the Philippines.

Smart’s Digital Catechism Program: Road to PH’s 500 Years of Christianity received an Excellence Award under the Communication Management Division, while the program’s Heritage Tour Series won a Merit Award under the Communication Skills Division.

“Over the years, Smart’s Digital Catechism Program has unlocked limitless opportunities using digital technologies in expanding Catholic faith education and formation, strengthening the protection of religious heritage structures, and supporting the country’s push for faith tourism,” said Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, AVP/Center head Smart Group Corporate Communications VisMin.

Organized by the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Philippine Quill Awards honored programs and campaigns which exemplified IABC’s global standards of excellent, effective, and purposeful business communication.

Creating a #BetterWorld for all Filipinos

Smart’s Digital Catechism project is an expansion of its Digital Tourism Program, which is among the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives aimed at creating a #BetterWorld for all Filipinos.

Launched in 2012, the program highlights the use of mobile technology to deliver cultural, historical, and travel data to smartphone users. It involves the creation of apps, mobile guides, and interactive materials that easily provide tourists and locals comprehensive and localized information about a destination, thereby equipping travelers with their own virtual tour guides or travel companions.

Aside from the Excellence and Merit awards of Smart’s Digital Catechism efforts, the wireless arm and its parent company, PLDT Inc. (PLDT), bagged 59 group-wide wins, including the Company of the Year and 1st runner up titles.

Digital Catechism: Innovations of faith formation and heritage conservation

The primary innovation of Smart’s Digital Catechism Program is to provide pilgrims, foreign and local tourists alike across all age groups with information and historical data about relevant physical structures and locations via today’s most ubiquitous tool — the smartphone.

Smart’s collaboration with the different dioceses around the country paved the way for the expansion of this initiative. The program has accomplished the following:

* Installation of Interactive Markers. To date, a total of 42 interactive tourism Quick Response (QR) code markers with NFC chips have been installed in various religious and historical sites in the Archdiocese of Cebu, and Dioceses of Dumaguete and Jaro, Iloilo.

* Heritage Tours with smartphones as travel companion. Smart, in close collaboration with the different Archdioceses and Dioceses in the country, organized a “Heritage Tour Series,” featuring pathways highlighting heritage religious sites installed with interactive QR markers. Every heritage tour ends with a short discussion emphasizing on the importance of protecting heritage sites and imparting how these structures are used as effective tools for evangelization.

* Development of Faith Mobile Apps. The Visita Iglesia Mobile App was primarily developed to provide religious devotees with a handy guide to notable heritage churches in Cebu. This was first released in 2014 and updated recently to incorporate new developments and information. The app provides cultural, historical, and religious information about the featured sites. This will also serve as a virtual visit to those who can no longer physically attend Visita Iglesia every Holy Week.

Recently, Smart launched the Panaw sa Pagtuo: A Journey of Faith at 500 Years of Christianity Travelling Exhibit, with the Archdiocese of Cebu through its Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, and InnoPub Media. Unveiled on April 11, 2021 at SM City Cebu Northwing Atrium, the exhibit takes the form of a Spanish period church replica and makes use of several digital innovations such as QR codes and virtual reality (VR) devices to reinvent guests’ experience of Cebu’s religious treasures. All year round, the travelling exhibit will follow a specific pathway and will be visiting nine mother parishes in Cebu.

“This is the end-product of many hours of hard work and collaboration with our partners, The Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and InnoPub Media. We have been able to innovate and integrate digital technologies to strengthen the Archdiocese of Cebu’s church heritage conservation efforts. These were mostly done via digital productivity tools, amid the pandemic,” Smart president and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio said.

Smart’s initiatives in Digital Catechism and Tourism leverage on the company’s nationwide mobile network, which covers 96 percent of the population from Batanes to Sulu and enables other CSR programs in education, livelihood, disaster preparedness and response, and environmental stewardship. (PR)