Recap: The Amazing Race Philippines, Episode 1 – “Nautical phrase!? Ano ‘yon!?”

The Amazing Race Philippines, Episode 1 (Leg 1, Day 1)

Host Derek Ramsay stands atop the RCBC Plaza building in Makati, happily describing the diverse and bustling culture of Metro Manila.

Eleven teams are each aboard helicopters flying over the metro…
Anton & Armand, brothers and football/soccer players. They think being brothers will be an advantage over the other teams.
Dani & Mish, Dani is a former Miss World Philippines and Mish is her friend from Canada.
Boom & Cheng, “magkumpare” or best buds. Jokers.
Angel & Ed, father and daughter who have been through a lot together.
Pamela & Vanessa, “Real Housewives of Alabang,” self-confessed shopping addicts. Pamela wants to prove to herself that she can be “an adventurous woman.”
Sheena & Gee, “All the other teams can suck it!!!!” On-again, off-again friends. Sheena is a dancer with the Philippine All-Stars, Gee is a TV host.
Fausto & Dayal, brothers in law. Fausto used to be a drug addict, Dayal is a model.
LJ & CJ, childhood friends, both actresses. CJ is a huge fan of TAR.
Crystel & Mykey, dating, but both are still married to previous spouses.
Marc & Kat, former fitness champions and gym buddies.
Saida & Jervi, “amigas,” Saida is a former dancer for noontime show Eat Bulaga, Jervi graduated magna cum laude from University of the Philippines, Diliman.

The teams are taken to Paco Park in the historic walled city of Intramuros where Derek awaits at the Starting Line.

Derek starts his spiels. There are 13 legs in the Race. He gives them a rundown of the rules; tasks, be careful with spending their money and read the clues carefully. There will be a Salvage Pass and an Express Pass.

The teams cheer as Derek announces the grand prize is P2 million (provided by Brother Industries). But, Derek says they’re going to have to earn it.

“The Race will be longer and of course will have more challenges to test your endurance and determination.”

He points to their first clue sitting on top of their bags.

“Naghihintay ang buong Pilipinas.” / “The Philippines is waiting for you.”

“Race safe. Race hard. And Race fast.”

Derek says “Go!” and the rain starts to fall (very cinematic, lol).

The bags are sitting on top of a raised walkway above burial walls. While other teams decide to go the long way up the path, some teams decide to just climb up the wall. Anton and Mykey don’t have any problems dropping their bags down, but Marc slips and takes a huge fall a good couple of feet to the ground below. He gets up quickly and proceeds to retrieve his and Kat’s bag.

Teams open the first clue telling them to head to the Manila Yacht Club where they must decipher a nautical phrase by decoding marine flags hanging atop one of the yachts. Each flag equals a letter of the English alphabet and they can find a cheat sheet somewhere at the club.

The rain continues falling as teams get into taxis. Pamela & Vanessa decide to take a tricycle, thinking it would be able to weave in and out of the notorious Manila traffic. Boom & Cheng decide to walk a ways away before arriving on Roxas Blvd.

Saida & Jervi arrive at the Manila Yacht Club first, find the flags, but have no idea what to do until every other team arrives on the dock.

Marc & Kat are the second and while running toward the yacht, Marc takes another spill.

With everyone, nakatunganga or clueless, Mish says she thought they’d change the challenge or something. But she and Dani manage to find a nautical book in a nearby yacht which they use to decode the phrase.


Episode Thoughts
And so here we finally are! The Philippines’ own Amazing Race. And I must say it was a pretty good premiere.

Now, the judgment is still out on this six-episode-a-week schedule. Having only watched maybe a total of 15 minutes of Israel’s TAR, HaMerotz LaMillion, I don’t really know what to expect to these multi-episode legs. But I can see how it might be able to work out well (and also how it might fail horribly).

This first episode had about a 25 minute runtime. Tough to judge since half of the episode was devoted to the usual team introductions at the beginning of any Race. But everything felt very familiar, which is a good thing.

While I wish that opening credits sequence/OBB was more slick, the editing for the episode itself was quick, fast and comparable to what we’ve seen with The Amazing Race Asia and The Amazing Race China Rush.

The teams are distinct and this expanded format allows us to meet them all instead of having the usual “Only gets screentime if they’re about to be eliminated” type of editing we have with most TARs. We’ll also probably get scenes that would usually be bonus “secret scenes” that’d get posted at and the like.

Also, I like to point to Derek saying the Race would be longer and with more challenges. So I would wager that the extra tasks they would have each leg (like the “nautical phrase” one we got right off the bat) would easily fill one of the six episodes. Road Blocks and Detours would take up maybe 3 episodes together. Add in another task, couple that with all the apparent drama and meltdowns we’re going to get and you’ve easily got 5 episodes of 25 minutes each and maybe a longer episode on Saturdays featuring the Pit Stop.

Derek Ramsay, so far, is a good host and really one of the few Filipino actors or personalities that would be able to handle this type of assignment. (Oy, are there some bad reality show hosts in the Philippines.)

I’m a little disappointed with the P2 million prize though since there were rumors it’d be P4 million cold hard cash as opposed to the usual car, house and lot and food cart prizes on other shows. In fact, TV5’s own Artista Academy handed out prizes worth P10 million to TWO winners last week. Maybe we’ll save the “Double Your Money” twist for TARPh2.

Anyway, it was a great start overall and the fact that it was “bitin” or in other words, “left you hanging,” it means you’re that much more likely to watch tomorrow. And what Filipino primetime series wouldn’t want that?

Episode Quotes
Sheng: “Is this Manila?  We’re in Manila right?  Manila tayo, no?”

Cheng: “Kasi lahat ng jeep, pwedeng overtake-an ng sorbets at tsaka fish ball.”

Jervi: “I-spell ang mga nautical phrase gamit ang mga flags sa yacht.  … Nautical phrase!?  Ano yon!?”

Jervi: “Paano ang nautical flags na yon, ang hirap i-decode kasi, ako, wala naman akong background ng nautical churoos no!”

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