Tuesday, October 12, 2004

AR5 Winners

Chip and Kim: Real Winners
Updated 09:44pm (Mla time) Oct 05, 2004
By Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

ANY day now, Season 6 of "The Amazing Race," which bested older and better-rating "reality" shows in the last Emmy Awards, will open with a whole new set of contestants, a whole new itinerary and new challenges.

Producers, though, are keeping mum about any possible innovations they might introduce, like the infamous "Yield" that made the final episodes of "AR5" so exciting. There still isn't any word, either about the destinations the teams might be visiting. If you will recall, Filipinos followed Season 5 with feverish devotion because the Philippines was included in the itinerary, and as it turned out, the episodes shot in Manila, Cavite, Laguna and Lagen Island in El Nido, Palawan were some of the most intense and tension-filled during the entire season.

As everyone who followed the last season--as well as those who merely followed the reviews--must know by now, the winners were Chip and Kim, a married couple who live in California with their three children. Jovial and helpful, and ever-appreciative of the sights and the people they encountered in their race around the world, these "married parents" topped the on-line popularity polls among viewers with 88 percent of the votes. That they ended up beating the super-competitive team of Colin and Christie must surely have gladdened the hearts of many viewers!

Yesterday, courtesy of ABS-CBN Studio 23 (thank you, Amy Mosura!) and Buenavista Television in the US, I got a chance to briefly interview Chip and Kim by phone. Though the connection was spotty at times, the couple's high spirits and positive vibes came through strongly.

* * *

"WE MUST definitely return to the Philippines!" Chip boomed when I asked him his impressions of the country. "The people are so friendly, and El Nido is the most beautiful island we have ever seen." He added that he and Kim had been to many beach destinations, even before they joined Amazing Race, but none was as enjoyable and "extremely beautiful" as Lagen Island.

Chip also expressed his "appreciation" of the drivers in Manila, noting that while "I had never been scared of dying" during the entire race, "the taxi and jeep drivers of Manila were certainly energetic," and whizzing through the city's chaotic streets was itself an experience.

While Kim knew that the petite young woman who welcomed them at the Coconut Palace was Luli Macapagal Arroyo, the President's daughter, Chip confessed that "I never found out who she was until we were already back home. I'm upset that I wasn't told who she was."

"You see," Chip explained, "we agreed that I would do all the physical challenges so that Kim could do the thinking, the strategizing and relating to the other teams and production staff. I must confess that I wasn't even aware of what was happening half the time."

Only now, Chip and Kim admit, are they aware that, outside the US, "Amazing Race" rates highest in Canada, New Zealand/Australia and the Philippines. They expressed appreciation to their Filipino fans.

* * *

DURING the penultimate episode, at the Malaguena jeepney factory in Cavite, Chip and Kim brought the level of competition up a notch when they used the "Yield" on Colin and Christie, who up till then had dominated the race and arrived first at practically every pit stop. The two Texans, who had been dating for a year when they joined the race, were certainly vocal about feeling "betrayed" by Chip and Kim.

"There's still a certain level of animosity" between them and the Texans, admits Kim. "They were just so intense about the whole thing. From the beginning, Chip and I agreed that we were just going to enjoy ourselves and embark on this adventure, and winning was just going to be the gravy. But Colin and Christie were so focused on the prize money that when they lost, they felt they had ended up with nothing."

Asked who their favorite competitive team was, Kim replied, "Oh, no doubt about it, Marshall and Lance. We always got along very well and tried to help each other as much as we could." The brothers, who got eliminated midway, own a pizza shop in Dallas.

Chip, 46, and Kim, 44, are the oldest participants to win the Amazing Race. "We don't feel old at all," protests Chip, "in fact we feel very young." Though they concede the other teams used their youth and fitness to put themselves ahead in the game, Chip says, "We didn't feel handicapped by our age at all. We decided to play a mental game, to outwit the others and plan better." Not once did they ever feel like losing, they say, "although there were times early in the race when we made pretty stupid mistakes."

* * *

AS THEY promised soon after reaching the finish line, Chip and Kim have "tithed" part of their prize money to their church, the Jubilee South Port. But aside from "Chip having to have his toys for the big boys, like an iPod and a laptop," says Kim, they have decided to set aside the larger part of their $1-million prize money.

Married for over 25 years now, Chip, who owns an Internet company, and Kim, who owns her own information technology recruitment firm, have three children: Elon, 23, Phillip III, 19 and Kristen, 17. Told they're soon to be "empty nesters," Chip joked that he didn't mind this at all. "Don't get me wrong, they're great kids, but we won't stop them if they want to strike off on their own and get on with their own lives."

Doubtless, as they showed throughout the race, Chip and Kim will weather this stage in their life with humor, grace and optimism, proving that they're real winners, not just in a race around the world, competing against 10 other teams, but also in the race of life.

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