The Riches' amazing ride of a lifetime

The Philippine Star

SINGAPORE — Richard Herrera and Richard Hardin of Team Philippines lived up to their nickname Rich as they took home the $100,000 grand prize after winning AXN’s The Amazing Race Asia (TARA) Season 4. Richard and Richard also known as “The Riches” arrived first at the Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark making Singaporeans Claire Goh and Michelle Ng and Indonesians Hussein Baron and Natasha Sutadisastra second and third placers, respectively.

Herrera and Hardin joined the winners’ circle comprising of teams from Malaysia (Season 1), Singapore (Season 2) and Hong Kong (Season 3).

“You know it is great to represent the Philippines,” says Richard Herrera during the TARA4 finale party at the Marina Bay Sands. “We’re half-Filipinos. My mom is from Bulacan. My father is from the US. We don’t speak the greatest Tagalog in the world. But we know the Philippines well. We love it. We love being there. We love our friends there. It is a natural thing to come up here and represent. And thank, God, it worked out. We are proud to represent the Philippines.”

Richard Hardin couldn’t also contain his happiness and gratefulness. “Thank you (the AXN team) for selecting us. That was a blessing. Thank you for the opportunity to do this. (If) there’s one person I should talk about, that’s my partner, Rampage (Herrera). I’m not the easiest guy to listen to. This guy doesn’t like listening to anybody. He really stuck it up on the race and put it up with me. Every time I got the chance, ‘Rich, did you do this? Did you do that? Did you run there? Did you run it? Did you do this? He put up with it. We came up victorious. I would like to say thank you. A lot of people say we’re cousins… we’re good friends. This is the first time I would like to say this. I consider Rich as one of my best friends.”

But there’s another best friend Hardin thanked that night whom he considers his “other half, my better half, my woman.” She is Andrea Violago Barandiaran. To the delight of everyone present, Hardin made a marriage proposal and Andrea gave her yes.

“The race is very tough,” shares Hardin. “…you need someone to turn to. I’d always think about her… she’s always in my head (saying) ‘C’mon, baby. You can do it.’ She supports me. She got me going.”

Before that, some racers received their pitstop prizes with host Allan Wu. Everyone was all eyes watching the finale episode.

The 10 teams of two started the race around Asia and Oceania in Kuala Lumpur. The number, however, was narrowed down as the teams hopped from one country to another. TARA4 went to eight countries and two continents.

The show also went to Legazpi City and Misibis Bay for episode five with the help from Mayor Noel Rosal and business tycoon Elizaldy Co. 

Prior the finale leg, Herrera and Hardin, Hussein and Natasha and Claire and Michelle flew to Pohang, South Korea from Bali, Indonesia. They searched for the Hands of Harmony statue where the clue was located. The teams used their brains and brawn to outwit each other. The next scene saw them going to Singapore for the last set of challenges.

A lion dance welcomed the Indonesian team first, followed by the Philippine and Singaporean groups. The racers had to peel one kilogram of steaming hot crabs at the Red House. After, they had to choose between surfing or taking reverse bungee. Herrera on a harness bravely crossed one tower to another of the Marina Bay Sands which sealed their fate at the season’s last leg.

Herrera and Hardin went to the hotel’s infinity pool first. And they became the first RP team to win The Amazing Race Asia.  

Looking back, it has been a slow but sure climb for Team Philippines. Aubrey Miles and Jacqueline Yu and Ernie and Jill Lopez left the race early in the reality show’s maiden broadcast. Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez finished third. Last season, Tisha Silang and Geoff Rodriguez placed second.

Representatives from the Philippines have always been strong and determined to win the race. Hardin and Herrera have shown Pinoy’s winning spirit to surpass detours, roadblocks and fast-forwards. Of the 11 legs, the Riches arrived in the pitstops four times and placed second five times. But it wasn’t a walk in the park for them as they arrived fourth and sixth in the two other legs.

But it wasn’t only the pair of Richards who campaigned harder for the Philippines. There was the team of Jess James and Lani Pillinger that made Filipinos proud. The party girls won the legs in New Zealand and Australia seeing Herrera and Hardin behind before Jess and Lani finished fourth and were eliminated during the ninth leg of the game. It proves that TARA is everybody’s ball game.

“It definitely made us stronger,” replies Herrera when asked how TARA affected his friendship with Hardin. “And after tonight, there’s a whole another road for Rich to travel and accepting me as a friend to be there for them no matter they go through. I’m excited for the future and let’s see what happens to the both of them.”

“You know winning some cash and everything, I think it is more important the people we have met along the way,” he adds.

Does Herrera see himself joining show business?

“Manila is my home,” he answers. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I’m hoping for the best.”  

Without a doubt, it was a ride of a lifetime for Richard Herrera and Richard Hardin.

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