In a show of creativity and adaptability amid the pandemic, Ateneo Celadon, the premier Chinese-Filipino student organization of the Ateneo de Manila University, recently held the annual Binondo Amazing Race (BAR).
The event, which takes place around early February every year, normally sees dozens of participants running around Binondo as they race to complete different stations. This year, the race was held virtually.
“I think we still did good enough with the limitations that we had, especially since it was the first online BAR,” said Madee Dy, one of this year’s BAR project managers.
“During the event itself, the programs went smoothly. At the same time, most of the participants enjoyed,” said Nat Yap, Dy’s co-project manager.
An unexpected turn of events
Until late last year, Dy and Yap were initially hopeful that BAR would still be held onsite. However, as Ateneo Loyola Schools Vice President Maria Luz Vilches announced that classes would again be held online for the second semester, their hopes faded.
Still, Dy and Yap, together with their core team, successfully re-envisioned BAR in a way that would still be meaningful.
The event centered around the fictional mystery of a girl who ran away from home. In order to solve this mystery, groups of BAR participants had to traverse a series of puzzles, games, riddles, and the like. Successfully traversing them meant an additional clue in solving that mystery.
“It was a mystery-detective thing, so ‘try and find her.’ So like, to find out her backstory of her disappearance and try to find her and bring her home safe. So, there were puzzles, and riddles, and there were time-based challenges, how to make sure na our participants were kept on their feet virtually throughout the race,” said Dy.
The capabilities of technology and social media greatly affected how the activities looked, too. At one point, the BAR participants had to visit an Instagram account. Some links were also hidden, and participants had to find and open those links in order to successfully continue in the race.
In the end, the mystery story revealed that the girl actually ran away from home in protest of her father’s wishes to tear down places in Binondo to expand his business.
After day one, which was spent finding clues, day two involved finding the location of the missing girl, according to Yap. “[The participants] finally found the girl, or at least her GPS signal,” he said.
The group of participants that found her the fastest became the group with the most points.
The Binondo Amazing Race, which happened at the same time the Chinese New Year season takes place, holds special meaning. Back in 2019, BAR occurred on Chinese New Year’s Eve, amidst an ever-bustling Chinatown.
When asked about BAR’s cultural significance, Dy said, “If I had to put a meaning, I guess because it’s Chinese New Year … Binondo is the heart and soul of Fil-Chi culture in the Philippines, so why not bring in the new year exploring Binondo physically and/or virtually?”
Yap said, “For me, despite the limitations that we have, it’s just like now how most people can’t celebrate a physical Chinese Yew Year … We can still push through with the online one or a non-physical one, just like BAR this year.”