Your first time will be unforgettable… I’m talking about meeting all the challengers for filming, of course! There is a perfect split of 5 guys, and 5 girls including myself. The exciting and frightening butterflies of “what-the-heck-did-I-get-myself-into” kick into the bottom of my stomach. Every single male here. Is. So. Tall! Their 6 feet frame tower over me with silent power, and I smile at each girl here trying not to judge who might be better than the other – but I’m secretly intimidated.
Is everyone here better than me? Who am I? What am I doing here?
There’s absolutely zero time for insecurities. We are whisked into massive production meetings, and try to get rest whenever we can. First stop of the filming trip is somewhat of a secret paradise (like literally – the producers don’t share with us the details to keep us always in suspense), and it’s already time to pack our bags and jet.
The service on this plane is genuine and efficient, and the cabin crew are beyond beautiful – some of the guys let out nervous laughs every time we’re served. I wiggle around comfortably in my spacious seat, chatting up my fellow TV contestants (“challengers”), leaning over them to get a good scenic pic of the Philippines.
The unending atolls of the Philippines – there are 7101 islands exactly – float gracefully past us and twinkle in the vast blue waters below. Oh, what a tease beneath our toes! I know I won’t get to see all of the Philippines this trip – as much as I one day wish to – but I hope to take in as much of the majestic landscape that awaits.
The quick and steady yellow fellow, Cebu Pacific Air, delivers us safely and smoothly to all our exotic locales. The place I’m most looking forward to visiting on our filming schedule is Bicol, because I’m a watersports-always-wanted-to-be-a-mermaid kind of girl and there would be so many adventures waiting to happen there. The place I’m most looking forward to eating at? What an easy decision – Cebu’s tasty Lechon and the chicharon that crackles in your mouth, of course. Some balut would be a hoot.
“Sometimes we don’t know that Paradise is so near, and we seek it somewhere far.”
It seems like happiness lives here in Illocos Norte. Every local on the street has unfailingly smiled at me, while the children giggle a bit more uncontrollably. We wave hello at everybody – they love us already! It must be Jonathan’s blonde hair and Claudia’s Caucasian looks – they are walking Barbies here. I pop into the historic grey grounds of Paoay church and say a quick prayer – maybe this old world wonder can give this newbie some much-needed charm.
We wait with bated breath on fuzzy green grass, under bright blue skies and the silhouette of ancient Paoay church. Chef Sherson is our host with the most – you may recognize him from “5 Rencah 5 Rasa”, a popular food programme in Malaysia, and “Great Dinners of the World” on Asian Food Channel. When Sherson proclaims, “Mabuhay”, I thought he said, “Welcome to the Hunger Games.”
What did I hope for from a food and travel reality TV show that will be on an international scale? I for sure expected sampling exotic dishes, dancing in the jungle, meeting traditions and on the road adventures with locals. What we got instead was the Amazing Race meets Survivor meets Masterchef. Why is everyone yelling at me?!
I wish I performed better today. I wish I was a better cook. I wish I was a better person. I think I must be the lousiest “cook”, contest or no contest. But for a girl who’s cooked less than 10 times before in my life, I think I sailed through it spectacularly! All the other challengers already know that my skill sets are somewhere else… Even if no one’s proud of me, I’m proud of myself today.
The judges had nothing bad to say about my dish, except for… the bits of burnt plastic from the tongs that Jonathan melted. Oh that. Even I wouldn’t have done that. Having me as the obviously worst cook, paired up with Jonathan, is just an explosion of bad on bad.
If you’ve watched the episode, you would already know that the show has clearly made it look like I’M THE ONE who melted the plastic tongs, which my teammate Jonathan did and I defended him. Can this really allowed be on TV? Watch and weep as this handsome goldilocks burns up the screen with me… In more ways than one!
The Amazing Food Challenge is an all-new original production and incredible travel and food show that I am a part of, filmed all over the beautiful Philippines. Airing on AFC from 11 MARCH 9PM onwards SG time, in 12 territories across Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam).
It’s more fun in the Philippines! Fly to the Philippines and around the country at low cost and maximum value with Cebu Pacific Air, like we did.