Meet the Pegman, the yellow statue beside the Google Street View car in the photo above. He's a Google Maps guide. Drag him somewhere in Manila on the search engine's map and he can give you a glimpse of how that place looks like. Thanks to Google Philippines' efforts and its collaboration with the Department of Tourism, panoramic and Street View imagery of the Philippines are now available on the digital map.
Over 30 areas and tourist destinations in the Philippines now have these 360-degree street-level panoramic views. To demonstrate what the Pegman can do, Google Philippines invited the Pacman--as in Manny Pacquiao--to give select members of the media a virtual tour of his hometown of Sarangani.
In case you missed our broadcast this afternoon: Manny Pacquiao joined Google at launch of Street View imagery in PH pic.twitter.com/lgwAOS2rMS— Top Gear Philippines (@TopGearPh) September 16, 2015
"Who wants to visit Sarangani?" he asked the crowd. When nobody in the audience wanted to be left behind, the boxing champ jokingly said: "I might need a rematch with Mayweather to buy plane tickets to bring you to Sarangani."
Through the Google Maps Street View, Pacman showed us the sights of Sarangani without us having to leave the Marriott Grand Ballroom. In our comfortable seats, we got the chance to see where Pacquiao used to sell pandesal. The facade of the gym where he used to train was also flashed on the screen. We still remember the vivid images of his farm's gates, so we'd know where to go should we finally book plane tickets.
This new feature of Google Maps should be useful for motorists who still get lost even when aided by a physical map. There are simply people who can't seem to locate a 20-story building even after noting down the street number and the street name. Thankfully, Street View can now provide them with 3D images of their destination.
The only downside is that this thing still doesn't provide real-time traffic information.
"What Google Maps provide is estimated travel time," Google Philippines country marketing manager Ryan Morales pointed out. "Traffic information and Street View will go together someday. We're working on it."
Google is conscious of the local laws in which it operates, so it has taken into consideration the privacy issues that the 3D images may pose. Morales clarified that only pictures of public areas are included. Thanks to its blurring technology and image-removal applications, plate numbers and faces are redacted. Should you find your house, home or family member included in a snapshot, you may even request for them to be taken out.
Since the Street View cars started roaming Philippine roads in January 2014, the following areas have received detailed imagery on Google Street View:
* Quezon City
* Las Piñas
* San Juan
* Baguio City
* Some parts of Benguet
* Some parts of Pangasinan
* Some parts of Pampanga
* Some parts of Rizal
* Some parts of Laguna
* Some parts of Quezon Province
* Iloilo City
* General Santos of South Cotabato
* Some parts of Sarangani
And because not every public area can be explored on wheels, the Trekker--the backpack version of the Google Street View car--has collected images from the following must-see places in the Philippines:
* Historic sites of Intramuros in Manila (San Agustin Church, Baluarte de San Diego, Plaza San Luis Complex and Fort Santiago)
* National Parks in Manila (Jose Rizal Monument and Paco Park)
* Corregidor Island (and its historic sites)
* Mount Pulag
* Tourist destinations and recreation areas in Baguio and Benguet
* Heritage City of Vigan
* Four official Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Miag-ao Church, Santa Maria Church, San Agustin Church and Paoay Church)
* The Gigantes Islands
* Tourist destinations and recreation areas in Guimaras
So, which part of the country would you like to see today?