Appreciation: Happy 10th Anniversary to The Amazing Race Philippines!

Happy 10th Anniversary to The Amazing Race Philippines which premiered ten years ago today on October 29, 2012!

CBS’ trio of Survivor, Big Brother and The Amazing Race (along with the Idol franchise) were considered the top tier reality formats of the time. They still are, I think.

It’s actually quite a feat that the three major Filipino networks had taken the marquee reality competition pioneers and done well: GMA Network with Survivor Philippines, TV5 (then-ABC) with Philippine Idol and (though there’s certainly a lot to be said about it) ABS-CBN with Pinoy Big Brother.

The Amazing Race was the logical next format to get its own Filipino adaptation. But with all the difficult logistics of producing it, not to mention the budget required, it was understandable that perhaps it wasn’t going to happen.

I’ve been a fan of The Amazing Race since it premiered in 2001. And of course, being Filipino-American, I was so excited to see the Philippines get its own local adaptation of the format. I remember when it was first announced in 2011. It was a mix of surprise and excitement.

I’ll be the first to say that The Amazing Race Philippines had its shortcomings. Back in 2015, I outlined my criticisms of the TARPH format and suggested ways to perhaps improve upon it for a potential season 3.

For The Amazing Race Philippines, I was initially confused and sometimes annoyed by the daily format. In hindsight, I definitely have a better understanding and appreciation of what TARPH needed to do to just get to air. It was definitely a Filipino adaptation of the format in the truest sense. And seeing how other TARs have “tweaked” the format, TARPH’s tweaks don’t seem so crazy anymore.

Filipino audiences are much more used to their daily soap operas rather than weekly airings like the original formats. And with such high costs to just license the formats, not to mention actually stage the production (especially for The Amazing Race), more airings mean more potential advertising revenue which in turn means a better return of investment. Television is a business, after all.

These considerations make the fact that TV5 was able to stage not just one, but two seasons is a major accomplishment. And two respectable seasons as well. Of the marquee reality formats, The Amazing Race is certainly the most challenging (and most expensive) to bring to life.

Both seasons featured solid casts and some unique tasks as well. Traveling around Asia would’ve been great. But as someone who’s only ever traveled between Metro Manila and my family’s home provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga, it was wonderful seeing the diverse locations and cultures around the Philippines.

Which makes it a shame that episodes of The Amazing Race Philippines aren’t more readily available online for fans and audiences around the world. (At least, episodes that aren’t 240p with large watermarks of malware-infested pirate blogsites stamped on them.) When I realized earlier this month that it was the 10th anniversary of TARPH, I decided to reach out to TV5 and people involved with the show to take a chance and see if it was possible to change that.

Over the years, especially during COVID, I guess people stumbled upon my recaps of TARPH and would ask if I could point them to where they could watch. Truthfully, I could only point them to a Google Drive of the low-quality recordings from the Filipino TV pirates which have now made their way to YouTube. (TV5! Please don’t copyright them!)

I can definitely relate to those people that messaged because I also would look for episodes of foreign TARs over the years, like those of Asia, Australia or Ukraine or Israel. I’m so grateful that TAR Vietnam and TAR China actually upload their full episodes, unrestricted, onto YouTube! (I definitely recommend checking them out!)

TV5 had randomly uploaded a few episodes to YouTube during season 2 (though now geoblocked to the Philippines only). So I can’t help but wonder what’s keeping TV5 from uploading the rest of it?

Though most of my contact attempts with TV5 went nowhere, I’m grateful to the kind people that did reply and were sorry that they couldn’t help. And if past Racers can’t even get copies for themselves, I doubt we’ll ever see them either. So we will just have to settle for the 240p uploads of season 1 and the incomplete, sporadic uploads of season 2. Some of season 2’s episodes, especially, will apparently be lost to the TV5 archives forever.

But I was really hoping that somehow, more people would be able to enjoy The Amazing Race Philippines. Again, as a Filipino-American, it’s always exciting to see something like TARPH. Getting to see a local adaptation of a popular international series with all the touches and cultural influences unique to the Philippines makes it very exciting for me. And having other people around the world able to experience everything the Philippines has to offer through a familiar format like The Amazing Race is something to be proud of.

That’s really partly why I’ve continued to do The Amazing Race Philippines: DryedMangoez Edition. I started it in 2014 to channel my excitement for season 2 into something and help promote the then-upcoming season. Afterwards, I continued as a fun way to hopefully, in some very tiny way, encourage TV5 to renew and continue producing the real Amazing Race Philippines as well as nudge them into going international.

And while as of October 29, 2022, it seems very unlikely The Amazing Race Philippines will ever return (both because of this COVID Era as well as TV5’s current state of operations), I somehow still find myself doing TARPHDME as a fun little wishlist-type of thing in my spare time. All in the hopes that maybe someday, by some crazy miracle, the real Amazing Race Philippines will be resurrected.

It’s crazy that ten years feels like so long ago, yet also not. But I definitely appreciate the two seasons we did get. Though it’s regretful that there isn’t a better way to relive those seasons, it doesn’t take away from their accomplishments. Having a Filipino adaptation be part of the now-legendary TV franchise is very much something to be proud of. And considering some recent seasons of The Amazing Race around the world, it just makes me want to go back to 2012 and 2014 again to enjoy TAR when maybe things were a bit more… amazing. =)

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