The Amazing Race " 26 " (or beyond!), Legs 1 and 2 – San Francisco → Albay → Ilocos Norte!

You’d think when The Amazing Race moved to Fridays, it would never be pre-empted or delayed, let alone by an awards show. But that’s what happened this week.

And already halfway through TAR25 (which has been the best season since TAR17!), it looks 50/50 that they’ll be making their long awaited return to the Philippines this season. Bertram’s tease in that TARPH promo in May must have meant TAR26.

And speaking of, CBS made the surprising, but welcome announcement that TAR26, first of all, would actually exist. But also that it would have a 90-minute premiere after Survivor‘s premiere in February.

So with no TAR this week, I started thinking about what TAR could do for its 90 minute premiere to help bring in new viewers and bring back old viewers who may have tuned out. Throwing in my wishlist for a San Francisco > Philippines opening Leg and here we go!

The city of San Francisco is one of the most recognizable cities around the world. And on the other side of arguably its most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, is Fort Baker.

More than 13 years ago, Fort Baker was the site of what was and still is the closest and most exciting finish ever in Amazing Race history. Today, it will serve as the Starting Line for 11 brand new teams as they set off on a Race around the world.

The 11 teams, being brought to the starting line on a tour bus across the Golden Gate are 😉
#TeamSexyBesties – A pair of basketball wives and tv personalities who hope to showcase their faith in God while delivering biting one-liners.
#TeamBlondies – Determined blonde sisters who will break the “dumb blondes” stereotype and will support each other and fight to the end no matter what.
#TheChefs – A pastry chef and her boss who are out to prove they can be just as successful out of the kitchen.
#TeamDatingCouple – Half-british couple who have been dating for 2 years and are out to test their relationship on the Race.
#TeamJuanD – Best friends and YouTube sensations who hope the language barrier will not be too much of a disadvantage on the Race.
#TeamFatherSon – College baseball player and his strict Coach father who have a tendency to clash and be hot-headed.
#TeamNerds – High school friends and college scholars who want to Race using their brains by coming up with formulas for every task in the hopes of making Top 5 and helping their charity.
#TeamTravelBuddies – While they may not be as fit as other teams, they make up for it by Racing with plenty of heart and determination and never giving up.
#TeamHandsome – Best friends who met as competitors in a television male pageant. They may be targeted by other teams early on for being an all-male team, but they won’t let that stop them.
#TeamSiblings – While they may come from a wealthy background, these long-time Race fans want to show they have what it takes to compete. Big brother also wants little sister to live life after having always focused only on school and work.
#TeamWorldChamps – These friends and training buddies have accumulated a long list of accomplishments on the world stage, but they hope the Race can bring them the recognition they deserve. But will spending all this time together for the first time affect their relationship?

The teams’ bags are waiting in front of brand new 2015 Ford Focus Electrics across the golden gate at Crissy Field. To get there, teams will first need to complete several tasks.

Behind the teams are 350 international maritime signal flags. There are 26 distinct flags representing each letter of the alphabet. What teams need to do is to find the flags corresponding to the letters they will need to spell out the first country they will be visiting on this Race: PHILIPPINES.

When Phil says “GO!” teams will run over to pick up a cheat sheet with all the flags and corresponding letters as well as a rope they will be stringing the nautical flags along.

The first team to bring Phil the correct flags will get business class seats on the transpacific Philippine Airlines flight from San Francisco to Manila.

But more importantly, the first team will also win an Express Pass.

And that’s not the only Express Pass available. The winners of this first Leg will also win an Express Pass!

Once teams have shown Phil the correct flags, they can run down to the pier on Horseshoe Bay and hop onto jet skis and follow the buoys to the beach at Crissy Field.

There, teams will find their first clues on top of their waiting backpacks.

That first clue points teams to 12 posts in the sand along the beach. Attached to each post is a ticket for one of two modes of transportation teams will use to get from Manila to their first destination, Legazpi City, Albay.

There are six tickets for each mode of transport.
First is a 1 hour flight from Manila to Legazpi City.
Second is a 7 hour bus ride from Manila to Legazpi City.

Teams can choose either one. What teams will not know is that the bus leaves directly from the Manila Airport as soon as teams arrive and exit customs around 6am and arriving in Legazpi around 1pm. The Philippine Airlines flight departs Manila at 1:10pm and arrives in Legazpi at 2:10pm

Once teams have taken a ticket, they can hop into a brand new 2015 Ford Focus Electric and drive to San Francisco International Airport.

All teams will be on the same direct Philippine Airlines flight departing at 9:30pm and arriving in Manila at 5:15am.

Once teams arrive in Legazpi City, they must make their way to the top of Ligñon Hill.

With the ever restless Mayon Volcano as their backdrop, the bus teams open the next clue telling them to choose a marked jeepney and direct their drivers to take them to the Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga. Built in 1724, this Franciscan church was destroyed by the 1814 eruption of the Mayon Volcano.

And it is here where teams will find the Detour!

For this Detour, teams will get a chance to take part in the local Ibalong Festival with the choice: Pig or Jig.

In Pig, teams will take part in the traditional festival game of Agawan Baboy, or Catch the Pig. After oiling themselves up, teams must enter a mud pit and catch a total of six pigs, three by each team member, and transfer them to a nearby pen to receive their next clue. Only two teams can be in the mud put at any one time and teams have only 3 minutes for each turn before needing to exit and go to the end of the line (if there is one).

In Jig, teams must dress up in traditional costumes and learn the traditional Ibalong dance which they must perform with a group of dancers. Once the judges are satisfied with their performance, they’ll receive the next clue.

Once teams have completed the Detour, they will return to their jeepneys and direct their driver to Luyang Beach in Bacacay to find their next clue.

And that clue tells teams to use the provided items to build a raft they will use to paddle themselves across Misibis bay to the Pit Stop at Mosboron Beach.

But teams will be surprised when Phil tells them to keep racing!

Leg Two: Albay to Ilocos Norte

The second leg begins immediately as teams will hop onto one of two charter buses leaving 30 minutes apart to their next destination, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

After the 13 hour bus ride, teams will be dropped off in front of the Ilocos Norte Capitol the next morning. Teams must search the plaza for their next clue.

That clue tells teams to choose a brand new Ford Escape and drive to the Paoay Sand Dunes.

There, teams must hop onto ATVs and follow a marked course across 88 hectares of sand dunes. There are 20 checkpoints, each with a basket. Only 3 of them contain their next clue. The other baskets contain either a Travelocity Roaming Gnome or an hourglass.

A Roaming Gnome will tell teams to skip ahead 3 baskets. If teams find an hourglass, they will need to wait for that sand to run out before proceeding to the next checkpoint. If teams reach the end of the course without a clue, they will have to go again.

The next clue tells teams to drive to the Bangui Wind Farm. And there, they will find the Road Block.

For this Road Block, teams must choose a key from a board and use it to unlock the correct door to one of the 14 windmills to retrieve their next clue.

And that clue contains the Detour for this 2nd leg, Condiment or Main Dish.

In Condiment, teams must pick up five large burnay jars used in the fermentation process for the traditional Filipino condiment made of fermented fish or shimp known as bagoong, or bugguong in Ilocano. After delivering the burnay jars to the bagoong factory, teams must then choose a filled burnay jar of already fermented bagoong.

They will fill 10 small jars which they will deliver to the Laoag Public Market to be sold. After making delivery, teams will be given a traditional snack for their efforts: green mangoes and bagoong, which they must eat before receiving their next clue.

In Main Dish, teams must make their way to the Laoag Public Market and buy the ingredients needed to cook the dish traditional to the northern Philippines, Dinengdeng. They will be given a list of the necessary ingredients, but in English. After delivering the groceries to the restaurant, teams must then eat a serving of the delicious dish before receiving their next clue.

The ingredients they need are:

Jute leaves (saluyot), Lima beans (patani), Moringa (marunggay), Eggplant (tarong)

Kabocha squash and flower (karabasa), String beans (utong), Bitter gourd (parya)

Okra, Tomato, Onion, 1 Milkfish (bangus), Bugguong

After completing the Detour, teams can now make their way here to St. Augustine Church, also known as Paoay Church. This more than 300 year old church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Pit Stop for this leg of the Race.

The last team to check in here WILL be eliminated.


“Director’s” Notes


Since this is supposed to be for a 90-minute premiere, it’s got to be filled with more than just two tasks, like TAR25’s premiere had. (Though still enjoyable.)

And since this premiere is supposed to air right after the higher rated Survivor, naturally you want to have a big event right at the start to keep those Survivor viewers past 9:30pm.

I’ve always wanted a San Francisco Starting Line. My last premiere Leg wishlist had teams starting on Yerba Buena Island with the brand new Bay Bridge as the backdrop. Here, I remembered, Why not have a Starting Line at the site of what is still the most exciting Finish Line ever? Plus, you’ve got the Golden Gate Bridge behind the teams as they prepare to set off.

I’ve always loved Starting Line tasks. Some have been better than others. With this I hoped to make it a little challenging. First of all, “PHILIPPINES” is usually misspelled with either two “L”s and one “P” or two of everything. So that in itself may present some teams with trouble. What’s worse for a team to go up to Phil with a spelling of PHILLIPPENES, all confident, but then get the thumbs down?

But instead of simply having teams look for letters, using maritime flags makes a little more sense as well as makes it much harder, or at least time consuming. They’re given cheat sheets anyway. So it’s both a physical and mental challenge. (I hope.)

Since the Starting Line task is a little more challenging, an Express Pass may be a nice prize.

The jet skis across the Golden Gate, with the Golden Gate Bridge itself right next to them should provide a thrilling task as well as a stunning backdrop.

The tickets on the beach are just another way of separating teams, as is the usual in an opening leg. The drama aimed here is teams realizing, or not, that the more uncomfortable mode of transport (a long bus ride) will actually be the better choice.

I’ve hoped for an opening Philippine Leg. Nothing crazier than having ELEVEN foreign teams running around the Philippines. I had to think about what would make an attention grabbing and eye catching premiere episode? That’s when I remembered the 2nd season premiere of The Amazing Race Australia. It was amazing. So why not recycle it? Nothing wrong with that if done well.

The cluebox on Lignon Hill is actually borrowed from TAR Asia’s visit to Legazpi. Having the Mayon Volcano in the background, welcoming teams to Legazpi should provide opportunities for more stunning views. TAR, after all, is also a great travelogue and beautiful travel porn. =D

TARUS NEEDS to do Pig or Jig. And this is what one would hope gets people glued to the episode. Teams rolling around in mud trying to catch pigs should be a lot of fun to watch. You get the hilarity as well as gratuitous scenes of half-naked Racers oiling each other up.

The Jig Detour should provide the more dramatic moments of this Detour since teams always struggle with dancing tasks. And the hope with the restrictions on the Pig side of the Detour is that teams will want to do Jig instead of having to wait in line or get dirty.

Building rafts presents one final challenge on this full leg worthy of 90 minutes. Teams will probably be here after sunset, so we’ll need buoys and large search lights at the pits top. Flags maybe.

But the biggest part of this episode that it is a TBC/SuperLeg/Double Leg/Keep on Racing Leg. What better way to get new and returning fans to follow the show to Fridays than to end this episode with a cliffhanger?

And for the 2nd Leg, it recycles some tasks and locations from the awesome Ilocos Leg of The Amazing Race Philippines 2.

The ATVs/Sand Dunes tasks from other TARs have been good. It’s a relatively simple task that still provides big challenges for teams. The Paoay Sand Dunes are another great location.

An even better location? The stunning Bangui Windmills. The HD camera drones will be used to the fullest at the Sand Dunes and here at Bangui. Beautiful, stunning shots.

The Bangui Road Block proved to be more of a physical task than luck task on TARPH2. Its a solid Road Block that is made even more great by the location.

TARPH2’s Detour was too simple and already done on TARUS. So needing to think about a fresh Detour, I thought about what is very Ilocano or something very North-like? Why not a food task?

Dinengdeng is very Ilocano. For that side of the Detour, shopping tasks in busy Asian markets is pretty much a TAR staple. The extra challenge here is the list of ingredients are given in English. And even I have never heard of the English names of the vegetables I’ve grown up eating. This Detour also “forces” teams to interact with the locals. That’s always something that’s been lacking in recent TAR. And by interacting with locals, this task may become easier since they’ll be glad to help find ingredients for a dish they’d be very familiar with.

Bagoong, or bugguong in Ilocano, is very Filipino. It presents that “gross” factor to these American teams since it definitely is foreign and not a pleasant smell, even though it is delicious. It has several parts, but depending on how fast teams can figure out English names to vegetables, this should be a pretty balanced Detour. Transporting burnay jars can get very fun. Teams will need to immerse themselves in the smell while filling the jars/bottles. And they’ll then get to go to the same public market the other teams are at and enjoy a little, and delicious, snack.

This Leg will likely finish after sunset. And TARPH2 showed a night Pit Stop in front of Paoay Church can be very stunning.

So there you go! I definitely hope TARUS visits the Philippines soon. Plenty of opportunities for great TV in the country. =]

5 thoughts on “The Amazing Race " 26 " (or beyond!), Legs 1 and 2 – San Francisco → Albay → Ilocos Norte!

  1. Its almost a year since the filming of TAR 24. Is Dave & Connor already gotten over with the U-turn? Are they okay with Brenchel now?

  2. Why S.F.? It already gets (and has gotten) tons of exposure. I’d much rather see San Diego with its famous zoo and previous TAR winners, Meghan and Cheyne, involved with maybe a quick dash into Tijuana (can you imagine crossing that border on foot?) or Washington D.C. and all those historical landmarks.

    1. San Francisco’s never had a Starting Line though. And after Los Angeles, SF would have the next most flights to Asia and Australia/NZ.

      San Diego should definitely have a Finish Line though. And we just had Washington DC for TAR22’s finale. 🙂

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