Bloggers Conquer the Max Road Challenge 3

2:33 am PHT

We won! Team Bloggers, which consisted of Benj, Jeff, Hannah (whom I only met then), and me, conquered the 3rd Max Road Challenge, organized by 103.5 Max FM. The Road Challenge happened last Sunday, December 13, and had us traveling all the way from Caltex along Julia Vargas in Ortigas to Leslie’s Restaurant in Tagaytay.

The challenge

Our victory was quite unexpected since you really can’t tell who was leading or not during the event. You see, the Road Challenge is unlike the Amazing Race. It’s not even a race but a game to get the most number of points. Points are obtained by answering questions found in three road books, one for each leg of the event. The first leg ended at Caltex Filinvest, the second at Caltex Mamplasan along SLEX, and the third at Leslie’s. The questions were mostly trivia about the radio station, Christmas, the sponsors, and Tagaytay, while other questions were Tagalog riddles (bugtong). Some of the Tagaytay-related questions could only be answered by visiting the place mentioned, so it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt as well.

Points were also given to very minor tasks (like putting the Max FM car sticker on the car, or buying bottled water from 7–11) and one very major task: to perform a Tagalog Christmas carol in front of the DJs, the other teams, and bystanders at Caltex Mamplasan. What our team did was to put a twist to “Pasko na Sinta Ko”. Hopefully there isn’t a video of our embarrassing performance on YouTube.  :-P

I first learned of the Road Challenge when Benj plurked about it last Thursday. I was initially hesitant to join since I would have a busy Saturday the day before and I wanted to rest on Sunday. But I decided, what the heck, I should join since these type of events are few and far between. It’s a good thing that I did since it was awesome winning at something like this.

Interestingly, three of my officemates, Amiel, Homer, and Caloy, also joined the contest. They named their team after another officemate, Gem.  :-)

Points for improvement

While I approve of the event not being a race due to safety concerns, I wish that there were more non-trivial tasks instead of it being 90% answering questions. For example, aside from the performance number, the previous Road Challenge had the teams make beaded necklaces for the children at an orphanage in Tagaytay. I also wish that there were puzzle-solving and clues either to get to the next pitstop or to get more points. That would make the event intellectually stimulating. Hehehe.

There was also a quite a few bits of logistical failure on the part of Max FM. They announced in an SMS before the event the expected pitstops. The first pitstop, Caltex Filinvest, was named as Caltex Zapote and this puzzled me since I did an ocular and found that there were no Caltex stations in Zapote. Besides, going to Zapote would be a substantial detour when driving towards Tagaytay from Ortigas. I guess they meant that it was Caltex along Alabang-Zapote Road, but that’s problematic as there are several Caltex stations on that road.

Moreover, it seems that Caltex or Max FM failed to inform Caltex Filinvest about the event. The people at the station were bewildered that the station was a pitstop. Some of the first teams to arrive there were actually instructed by the station attendants to go further west towards Zapote since the teams were told by the organizers to stop at “Caltex Zapote”. In addition, the organizers told the teams to exit SLEX just before the “Alabang Bridge” (this is actually the Alabang Viaduct) but we were all surprised to see that this exit was temporarily closed due to roadworks. Mega fail.

The station, Garmin, and OpenStreetMap

Previously, I only knew of 103.5 Max FM by name and it was only because of the Road Challenge that I learned that the station reformatted a few months ago to be more dance-music-oriented. Being an electronic and dance music (EDM) fan, I actually like it. The station is now a worthy alternative to the pirate (?) station 107.9 U-Radio. I’m especially happy to see that they also air foreign dance music radio shows like Paul van Dyk’s Vandit Knights. And the station apparently also took under its wing the long-standing radio dance/electronic music shows: Party on Weekends and The Blue Room. Consider me tuned in now.  :-)

For the race, Hannah brought her Garmin nüvi GPS unit to help in navigation (the game rules never did say that using GPS is not allowed). I’m the designated driver and I actually didn’t need the GPS since I’ve already researched the location of pitstops before the event and I’ve been to the places in Tagaytay where we can get the answers to the questions (like the Pink Sisters chapel). So the GPS was merely for my routing entertainment (much like playing around with YOURS). Hehehe.

Anyway, I was thrilled to see that the Garmin unit had the Philippine OpenStreetMap pre-installed! I was easily able to recognize the roads that I’ve added on the Garmin’s 4.3″ display. Also, I’ve only learned the day before that Garmin distributors in the country were doing this pre-loading. Woot!

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