Award-winning director Dante Nico Garcia launches an app that serves as an online resource for anything and everything about Palawan. 

A homegrown film director has launched an app that serves as an online resource for anything and everything Palawan. 

Award-winning director Dante Nico Garcia officially introduced ThePalawan Concierge in a virtual press conference on Thursday, describing it was a longtime dream that comes in an opportune time during the pandemic.

“Nag-start noong nalaman ko na ang Ploning ay mahal ang magagastos ko to show it to every Filipino community in the US that’s why I tried to make an app. Actually, 2016 pa lang, meron akong isang protégé na ino-offer niya sa akin na ito na ‘yong app na gusto mo, I can start it for you, pero hindi ko siya sineryoso,” he said.

“Until nitong lockdown, sabi niya sa akin, seryosohin mo na, kailangan na ng mga taga-Palawan ‘yong app. Ito na nga, gawin mo na. Noong tiningnan ko, it’s exactly the app that I was trying to develop abroad, in Vietnam, in big amount na ino-offer niya sa akin for very minimal amount. Regalo niya, grabbed ko na with a deal na the management of the app should be in Palawan para hindi mahal,” he added.

Garcia said he earned enough money to make this dream app a reality by the time he turns 50 but due to the pandemic, it happened two years earlier than his goal.

The application is available both in Google Play and App Store to cater to users of android and iOS systems. It hosts a directory of businesses, events, places, even individuals such as artists, skilled workers for connection, and potential job offers. His movies and other Palaweño movies made by his friends can also be streamed through the application.

The movie Ploning which starred Judy Ann Santos in 2008 is featured in the application. He is currently working on the portal of television within the app wherein he will put 3-minuter shows that will be released every week.

Garcia said he is working with some Cuyonons to provide additional  content talking a range of interests including religion, health, and even education to help students distance learning.

“It’s going to be fun. You are all welcome to pitch, to collaborate with us for a show. Iyon ang mga ginagawa namin na under development na show, hopefully magsimula gumawa. It will be three to ten-minuter shows, once a week, regular time slot para alam ng mga tao sundan,” he added.

Everyone could also send photos, videos, or articles to be contributed as the content of the app, he said. The app has many features which is a combination of different mainstream applications providing different services.

“Kaya ang claim niya ay concierge siya dahil everything you need in Palawan is supposed to be there,” he said.

Dedicated to locals
Garcia said that his objective through the application is to entertain locals and those who love Palawan so they could still visit the province from their digital devices.

He personally manages the app and has set for himself a goal to reach 100,000 Palaweño subscribers every semester. At least through the figure, he estimates that locals will get used to the application even after everything goes back to  normal in about two to three years.

“We want this to be fully functional for the locals bago siya, in time sa pagbalik ng mga turista. Kasi pagbalik ng mga turista, ano ba ang ginagamit ng locals na app. Kaya sabi ko, blessing siya na nagsimula ngayon, otherwise if it came at the time na punong-puno ng turista, mamamali ang idea ko of how to run it. Hindi ko madi-dedicate sa mga locals,” he said.

“If we will be able to have a directory, a database of all the skilled workers in Palawan, iyon ang goal ko. We will be able to find jobs for everyone and at the same time, iyon ang gusto ko sana. That’s why I’m trying to ask for help. I hope na by the end of the year, majority ng mga taga-Palawan, iyon na ang go-to app nila. Entertainment muna, I want to push for the entertainment fun, very masa para kaaliwan,” he added.

The app also wants to extend assistance to the community, he stressed. The 20 percent of the earnings will be in a form of cash prizes through contests and another 40 percent will go to the production of the content.

As Garcia and his business partner are both from Palawan, they want locals to benefit from it.

“On a serious note, akala ko mananalo ang Yes so this is actually supposedly my answer na kapag saka-sakaling mahati-hati ang Palawan, sa iisang app ay iisa pa rin ang Palawan,” he explained as supposedly the statement of the application in relation to the previous plebiscite.

After Ploning was produced 13 years ago, Garcia said wanted to embark on a new project for Palawan. He has now positioned himself as a creative producer to help a lot of directors to develop their content through his years of experience in film directing.

Due to quarantine restrictions caused by the existing health crisis, Garcia cannot go out to shoot as materials for the supposedly grand launching of the application he wanted.

“It’s a platform that every Palaweño could use. I don’t see any problem. I just hope it gets a bigger audience that we hope to get the soonest possible time pero, problema? Wala talaga, wala akong nakikita. Ang problema ko lang ngayon, I cannot go out to shoot while I am in the most beautiful island in the world pero hindi ako makalabas para maka-shoot,” he said.

Inviting businesses
Garcia stressed that it is hard to be creative while hearing sirens of ambulance every now and then. He prayed to figure out a way to invite locals to try the app after it was initially created a couple of months ago.

“Ang hirap lumapit sa businesses na halika, mag-add ka, wala pa naman tao. Magbabayad ka, wala ka pa naman kinikita, it is really a struggle pero I just waited for the time,” he said.

The first 1,000 individuals who will submit to be part of the directory will have a three-year subscription for only P1,000, he said.

“Para mapakinabangan nila, para siguradong makabalik. Siguro malaki na iyong kinaliit noon kumpara sa mag-boost sa Facebook. At the same time, if you will help me get to the goal of having a hundred thousand people (to) download and register sa user for the app, in three years time, 500,000 na rin ‘yon, 600,000 na tao na rin ang makakakita. Kumbaga half a year before your P1,000 expires, you’ve exposed to 500,000 people already,” he said.

Entrepreneurs who want to be added to the directory may choose if they want to be included under what portal of the app they think might be helpful for their exposure. Any size of businesses even fields of workers may enlist in the directory, he explained.

He also said that the app also aims to help online businesses who have no physical stores or were forced to close their businesses due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Just send it to me. As of now, I’m the one managing directly. Just send it to ThePalawan Concierge if you think something, photos, articles kumbaga playground natin lahat. May library ng written articles, may music, everyone is welcome to send in whatever they think needs to be in the app,” he said.

Garcia said he is also working on film projects, some of which are inspired by Palawan traditions.

He directed Ploning in 2008 which was the Philippine entry to 2009 Oscar Awards for best foreign-language film category, OMG (Oh, My Girl) in 2009, Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi in 2012, Mrs. Recto, and other projects.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.