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Cebu’s Pari-an

Smart Communications, Inc.

Posted on Monday, January 09, 2012

300 years of history goes online


The Heritage of Cebu monument at night


Quaint, charming, and antiquated—perhaps these are the first words to come to mind when you see Pari-an. Described by historians as the premiere center of trade during the 16th century, this small district, once dominated by Chinese merchants, has long been relegated as a mere concept in popular history text books.

Today however, old Pari-an has found new life—not through traditional trade, but through high tech tourism. With the help of QR (Quick Response) codes , the smartphone in your pocket, and wireless broadband, the locale is once again spurring the interest of both locals and tourists as it did over three hundred years ago. Editor Marlen Limpag demonstrates how to use the QR Code


Arousing QRiosity

Though only a few blocks large, Pari-an holds a bevy of secrets that are just waiting to be uncovered.

The old Filipino saying  “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan”, which literally means  “those who don’t look back at where they’ve been will not make it to where they’re going” is probably the best description for modern Pari-an.

Through the help of Max and Marlen Limpag of, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and Smart Communications, Inc., Pari-an has found a new home online. Markers scattered across the various places of interest feature brief descriptions which can be accessed via the internet using unique QR Codes.

Anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone or even tablet device can scan said codes using a free QR Code reader which are available for free in most online app store such as Google’s Android Market, Apple’s App Store, and BlackBerry’s App World. In mere seconds after scanning the code, users are then instantly privy to additional information about the tourist spot on the website.

A deeper experience


Modern day Colon St.


Some examples of the sites that benefit greatly from the technology is Colon St.—the oldest thoroughfare in the Philippines. While the street no longer bears any resemblance to its former glory, visitors can now take a rare glimpse at the road’s heyday simply by scanning the QR Code perched on the Colon St. monument.

Similarly, the Jesuit house of 1730 is able to make people aware of its existence despite being hidden inside an ordinary-looking junkshop. It is small advances and discoveries like these, the type that even locals take for granted, that make the marriage of tourism and technology more significant.


The Jesuit House of 1730 still uses 90% of its original material according to its current owner


The other sites in Pari-an, such as the San Juan Bautista Church, the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral Home, the Heritage of Cebu Monument, and the Casa Gorordo residence, also have their own stories to tell—all of which can now be told simply by reaching for your trusty mobile phone.

Only the beginning

There’s more to come, though, as Pari-an is but the first tourist area in the Philippines to officially use QR Code technology.  There are plans to scale up the use of the technology for the country’s tourism hotspots.


The humble San Juan Bautista Chapel was where Pari-an’s once magnificent Church stood until it was ordered demolished in the late 1870s.


What’s more exciting though is that QR Codes are but the prototype of an even brighter future for micro-tourism. Soon, the DOT and Smart hope to tap Near Field Communications or NFC for a more convenient means of transferring information to portable devices.


The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral house: the oldest Chinese house outside of mainland China


NFC is a technology which allows for contactless data exchange between two devices in close proximity to each other such as phones, debit cards, and even posters.


Casa Gorordo: bishop’s residence turned museum


Sinulog Guidebook

In yet another effort to take advantage of the power of the Internet to help promote its tourism activities, DOT, Smart, and partner bloggers have made available the Sinulog Guidebook which can be downloaded for free in .epub and .mobi formats.

The Sinulog Guidebook, features facts about the Sinulog festival and important information about the city such as contact numbers (police, tourist assistance, etc.) and lodging information for tourists.

Both formats can be viewed in most mobile devices using free reading applications such as Aldiko and Stanza.

SMART supports the Department of Tourism’s “Pilipinas, Tara Na” program. The company helps promote the agency’s efforts with the help of Infoboard, a web-based SMS broadcast service that facilitates information exchange and communication between the tourism department and its publics.

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