Pokémon GO craze hits PH

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THE GLOBAL craze over smartphone game Pokémon GO has reached the Philippines, with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) joining in the fun Sunday as aspiring Pokémon “trainers” began hunting for cartoon monsters.

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In a Facebook post, the MMDA announced that its Metrobase, which is frequented by traffic violators, has been designated as a “Wallflowers Pokémon Gym,” where captured Pokémon creatures can be trained for battle.

Since its global launch in July, Pokémon GO has sparked a worldwide frenzy among users who have taken to the streets with their smartphones.

The Philippines was one of 15 new countries and territories where the popular game was made available on Friday.

The iconic Newsboy Statue of The Manila Times on Bonifacio Drive in Manila, sculpted by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, is among the countless PokeStops were players can get items such as “Poke Balls” used to capture Pokémon creatures.

The free app uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

In jest, the MMDA reminded players who will troop to the Metrobase to observe the dress code in government offices.

“The MMDA administration reminds those who will troop to the agency that those wearing slippers, shorts, sando and those who plan to go during ungodly hours will not be allowed to enter,” it said in Filipino.

In a subsequent Facebook post, the MMDA said it had acquired the services of traffic aides called the “Avengers” to secure the Wallflowers Pokémon Gym. Players and trainers will also have to go through the roster of “superguards” to get to the “Gym Leader,” it added.

“Our guards will roam round the clock to catch all violators,” the Facbook post said.

The game, which could very well be this year’s biggest mobile phone game, has sent legions of Filipino players in a frenzy, with some venturing into dark streets and unfamiliar neighborhoods in search of Pokémon.

Authorities urged the public to always place their personal safety above catching the creatures.

MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos reminded users not to play the game while driving, and not to trespass into restricted areas and private property.

Carlos said Pokemon players caught “playing while driving” would face a fine of up to P15,000 for violating the Distracted Driving Act.

Aside from the Philippines, the game was launched on Friday in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ AND AFP

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