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Rappler uses its app to crowdsource public feedback for Intramuros Administration

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Rappler uses its app to crowdsource public feedback for Intramuros Administration

CROWDSOURCING. Participants of the Born In Film World Photowalk gather in front of Rappler staff to download the Rappler Communities app. Photo by Adelainne Balbin/Rappler

During Born In Film's World Photowalk 2024, participants use the Rappler Communities app to make suggestions to the agency managing the Walled City

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler, with the help of its recently launched news and crowdsourcing app, gathered public feedback on how to improve visitors’ experience of Intramuros, and relayed this feedback to the Intramuros Administration (IA), the government agency in charge of the heritage zone.

Photographers, tourists, and heritage enthusiasts used the Rappler Communities app on Saturday, April 20, during a photography event organized by photography club Born in Film, inside the Walled City.

Born In Film’s World Photowalk 2024 was part of celebrations in honor of IA’s 45th anniversary. The heritage zone management agency agreed to formally receive all public feedback gathered through Rappler’s app during the photowalk. The exercise is part of Rappler’s campaign, Make Manila Liveable, where journalists and communities collaborate to improve quality of life in Philippine cities, one city at a time. Stories about balancing heritage conservation and economic development in cities is part of the campaign.

As part of the five challenges of the photowalk, the first station asked participants to download the app, enter the Liveable Cities chat room, and answer two questions regarding their thoughts on the current state of the heritage site and how the Intramuros Administration manages the area.

The Rappler Communities app gathered a total of 78 responses from the participants, dubbed “love letters” to Intramuros.

Rappler turned over the formal report on public feedback to IA on Thursday, May 2.

Here’s a look at what the photowalk participants had to say about Intramuros and IA.

Appreciation for the ‘time machine’ in Manila

An overwhelming majority of participants expressed gratitude and appreciation for the existence of Intramuros and how the IA has maintained it.

While there were many points of improvement suggested, participants were glad to have Intramuros as a place where they could reconnect with history and practice their photography.

PICTURESQUE VIEW. A stately view of Manila Cathedral, as seen from Fort Santiago. Photo by Ian Capoquian/Rappler

For several, they have made repeated visits to Intramuros. For others, the photowalk was their first time in the Walled City, proving the value in events that bring in new visitors to the heritage zone.

Commenters lauded the preservation initiatives within Intramuros, praising the Intramuros Administration for its commitment to maintaining the historical authenticity of the site.

Photographer John Paul Pinson remarked on how the IA has managed to preserve some areas within Intramuros.

In line with this, Gabby dubbed the Intramuros “a time machine in the heart of Manila,” where he can still see traces of history through the cobblestone streets and cannons in the Walled City, and compared the heritage site to those of top-notch theme parks, but for the fans of history.

Improve accessibility, safety

There were suggestions to make Intramuros more pedestrian and bike-friendly by installing more secure bike racks or bike parking. Some asked for more waiting sheds and benches to give visitors places to rest when exploring the area on foot.

Multiple participants raised concerns on safety, especially at night. To address this, they recommended installing more lights and deploying more guards. 

Tourism and enhanced visitor experience

Numerous suggestions were to boost Intramuros’ appeal to both locals and tourists. Recommendations include enhancing event promotion, establishing an accessible events page, and leveraging social media for visitor engagement.

Additionally, consensus exists on enhancing the overall visitor experience through initiatives such as guided tours, interactive exhibits, multimedia guides, and approval of drone photography.

In the app, @rmcia mentioned that the free events and activities headed by the IA make her love the Walled City.

Larry Castro asked for more events on weekends and expressed the belief that Intramuros could become a hub for creatives – artists, poets, photographers, and history buffs.

Meanwhile, @JP appealed to have more visuals and infographics along with greeneries in the vicinity.

“I hope there [are] visible frames that [include] history per corner of the Intramuros. Also, have more green living things,” he said on the Rappler app.

Cleanliness and more trees

Participant Philip Midem asked the IA to improve the drainage system to prevent flooding or sanitary problems. Dan Payumo suggested a Pasig River cleanup drive and maintenance of the cleanliness of Intramuros.

Several participants suggested planting more trees to help provide more areas to cool down, and to improve the ambiance. They want more parks, open spaces, green spaces.

Participant misbasic suggested making Intramuros more pet-friendly and for the IA to help the stray cats and dogs in the area.

There were concerns raised about the community within Intramuros itself. While one participant thinks the management of informal settlers within Intramuros is the biggest issue the IA must handle, another participant suggested tapping the community in or around Intramuros as staff to help uplift the local economy.

Photography concerns

Because all the participants are photography enthusiasts, it was natural for concerns about the practice of their craft within Intramuros to crop up.

Several still feel that photographers must be given more freedom to take photos. But one participant said the solution could be for IA to just make sure all guards are correctly briefed about what photographers are allowed and not allowed to do.

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IA Administrator Joan Padilla, preempting these concerns, had explained during the photowalk opening ceremony that photo-taking for souvenir or travel shots was allowed without a permit. But photo shoots for commercial purposes or for special occasion shoots that would require closing off portions of Intramuros required permits.

Joene requested that drone photography be allowed so that photographers “have more options to showcase the beauty” of Intramuros. Kyrjames Jairo Mariñas suggested the IA install markers that tell visitors that specific spots are perfect for photographing certain views or scenery.

Modernization, technology

Several participants pitched the use of technology to enhance visitors’ Intramuros experience. Two participants suggested the use of mobile apps to help give visitors an immersive experience whether through augmented reality or through a simple “treasure hunt” app that would help visitors discover little-known aspects of Intramuros.

Multimedia exhibits or simple printout brochures that could double as souvenirs were among the suggestions.

Crowdsourcing from ordinary citizens and formally relaying their inputs to decision-makers and government officials is one way Rappler is using its app to fill information gaps.

The chat rooms within the Rappler Communities app allow Rappler journalists to bridge the public with their leaders, who could use public sentiments to better craft or implement policies.

The app is downloadable, for free, from both App Store and Play Store and can also be accessed via desktop link. See the action by joining any and all chat rooms in the Communities tab. – With reports from Ian Capoquian/

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