I was watching a re-run of The Amazing Race Australia yesterday and I was surprised to learn that the first episode of Season 2 (and the first pit stop) was shot in the country particularly in Quiapo and in Albay.
This is where the balot-eating challenge of The Amazing Race Australia took place – in Plaza Miranda, Quiapo.
After the race started in Australia, the 11 teams flew straight to Manila, the Philippines via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I felt chills when I heard the racers read the Route Info and mentioned "Manila, the Philippines".
From NAIA, the 11 racers drove taxis to Plaza Miranda and ate 8 pieces of Balot. I also loved the way the host described Manila and introduced the challenge. I love the way foreigners pronounced the word "balot". There's a half-Filipino amongst the candidates and it's his first time to eat balot. I actually envy him because I haven't eaten a balot yet. I’ll tell you more of that story soon.
Anyway after the balot-eating challenge, the racers drove to Cubao to a bus station. It was my first time to hear such bus company. They were divided into 3 groups that left Cubao at 30 minutes interval. They went to Cagsawa Ruins to celebrate in the town fiesta. It's also the venue for a Detour -- a choice between two tasks. The first task is "agawang-baboy" (I love the way Grant Bowler pronounced all the Filipino words) and the other choice is to participate in a dance ritual called the Ibalong Dance.
It was my first time to hear such a dance festival that I even Google it. Only 3 teams selected the dance challenge but the panel of judges (dressed in baro’t-saya) was a bit strict that the 2 teams were forced to do the other Detour choice. The third team who choose to stick with the dance ritual were the hippies and they got it by the 2nd or 3rd tries. I was surprised that the blonde girls (who danced gracefully) didn't pass that challenge.
Most of the teams choose the "agawang-baboy". They are required to catch 4 pigs per team but it seems that the racers only caught 1 pig per member. I love the way the pig pen was designed -- circular, made of bamboos complete with banderitas. The venue even featured the "poso" and drum as a means to wash away the dirt from the "agawang-baboy".
After the challenge, the racers took a marked Jeepney on the way to Mosboron beach. Again, it's my first time to hear such a beach. Their next challenge is raft-making. They were supplied with bamboos, blue containers and abaca rope to make a raft and paddle their way to the other beach which is the pit stop. Some teams aced the raft-making challenge while others needed help from locals to make the raft.
I also loved the way the female greeter at the pit stop (at Misibis Bay) greeted the racers -- "Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines". She's like a Bb. Pilipinas candidate dressed in elegant Filipiñana. I might need to Google her name to know more about her.
The Amazing Race Australia introduced a new twist to the game -- the Salvage Pass. It is the prize for the winners of the first leg. This is their version of the Express Pass of the US version. The Salvage Pass can be used to gain 1 hour lead time in the next leg or to salvage (save) the last team from elimination. The winners of the first leg, Ross and Tarryn used their Salvage Pass to save the last team from elimination.
I believed that The Amazing Race Australia did a fantastic job in presenting the Philippines as a tourist destination. The show also featured the Pinoy culture -- balot, Quiapo, salakot, Cubao, Mayon Volcano, town fiesta, "agawang-baboy", Ibalong Dance, Mosboron beach, baro't-saya and our national greeting -- Mabuhay!
Pictures (except Quiapo Church) were taken from The Amazing Race Australia website.