Racing to amazing Legazpi

(The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Legazpi City, Philippines  — Last Thursday night was not an ordinary evening as around seven million people were all eyes on this beautiful city with the majestic Mayon Volcano and its perfect cone as backdrop when AXN’s The Amazing Race Asia Season 4 contestants made it their playground from Sri Lanka. But what caught the attention of everyone was Misibis Bay Resort, the luxury island playground waiting to be discovered among the 7,100 islands the Philippines can offer visitors from sun up to sundown. Misibis Bay is a new haven to get away from the hurly-burly of city life.

To complement the multi-Emmy award-winning reality show’s adventurous feel, former Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and business tycoon Elizaldy Co staged The Amazing Race Asia Live Viewing Party at the Embarcadero de Legazpi. Mayor Rosal and Co brought in Season 4’s Richard Herrera, Richard Hardin and Lani Pillinger representing the Philippines to grace the event. Jess James, Lani’s partner was not present. The Amazing Race Asia Season 2 third placer Rovilson Fernandez and Kat Alano hosted the event. Bicolanos trooped to Embarcadero de Legazpi to witness how the two RP teams used their brawn and brains to step on the mat and reach the pitstop, Misibis Bay Resort’s Amphitheater.       

The crowd took a preview of TARA4’s Sri Lanka episode seeing Richard and Richard won the race with $4,000 as pitstop prize and Lani and Jess placed fourth. In Colombo and Galle, each team took an illustration from a store and looked for its match among a sea of masked people on parade. The challengers walked on a rope from one tree to another. Some learned new words to keep themselves on the right track. After, they were flying to Manila which could give the RP teams that advantage since the terrain is familiar.

...Misibis Bay Resort

From Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the remaining TARA teams had to either take a bus or take the first flight off to Legazpi City. After a 10-12-hour road trip for many and an hour air travel for others, the racers hit the clay pot and went to Ligñon Hill for the next clue. The place gave them a better vantage point of Mayon Volcano.

They were challenged to do the jig or pig. Among those who decided to learn and perform the detailed, stylized Ibalong dance were Lani and Jess.

“We are the party girls,” answered Lani when asked why they chose the jig. “...we do this for a living. We walked in there with our head held up high (thinking) we will take it over.”

“I’m a Bicolana,” adds Lani. “I’m happy to see the place (region) where my mom comes from. (She’s from) Camarines Sur.”

The two Richards, on the other hand, decided to catch pigs.

Amphitheater as fifth's episode final pitstop.

The next thing we knew, the racers were off to Misibis Bay Resort to do some clean-up activity in the shoreline. Then, they proceeded to a fish farm. The other half of the team had to paddle its way for the next clue. Then, the TARA contestants “jetskied,” braving the waters to arrive first on the episode’s pitstop.

Ethan and Khairie of Malaysia reached the mat first, leaving Richard and Richard behind. Lani and Jess came fifth.

“We thought we had a home (court) advantage,” says Richard Herrera. “We really wanted to win this leg for you, guys but we had a problem with pigs.” 

“We’ve been living here for over seven years,” adds Richard Hardin. “We’re half-Filipinos and we’re not quitting anything.”

Many Pinoys want to see the Richards and Lani and Jess in the final leg although it is too early to tell who will win the $100,000 grand prize. You can’t blame the Filipino viewers to have high hopes because the last two seasons saw Rovilson and Marc Nelson and Tisha Silang and Geoff Rodriguez giving a good fight. Tisha and Geoff placed second, the closest an RP team came to winning the show.

As the rest of the archipelago cheered for Team Pilipinas, Bicolanos couldn’t contain their happiness seeing the beauty of Legazpi City from Cagsawa Ruins to Mayon Volcano to Misibis Bay Resort. And Asia saw this. Before the Legazpi City episode wrapped up, neighboring countries discovered that there’s more to Mayon Volcano and the traditional cuisine Bicol Express. And that’s Misibis Bay Resort.

Also seen in the Legazpi-Amazing Race Asia TV viewing were JC Tiuseco, Stephanie Henares and Gino dela Peña of Q-11’s X-Life. Ely Buendia capped the night with Pupil and Eraserheads signature songs.

“Crazy, energetic and out of this world,” Lani describes her TARA experience. That’s true because racing from Colombo and Galle to Mayon and Misibis was a tough act. But it was an amazing experience to see two RP teams still in the race traveling across Asia.

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