Every Christmas, the Filipino’s joyful mood can be gone in a flash when grumpy taxi drivers turn them away because of undesirable distances and agonizing traffic caused by the holiday rush.
But picture this—what if an unsuspecting passenger hailed a cab to find the ever-smiling multi-awarded TV host Ryan Agoncillo on the wheel? And not just that; what if instead of having to pay the lovable celebrity for the ride, you’ll actually be the one receiving money from the cabbie?
Dreams do come true at Christmas time as the Emmy-award winning show, Cash Cab, finally arrives in the Philippines two decades since it first premiered in the United States. The one-of-a-kind format has also been replicated around the globe over the last 10 years, and is bound to cause the same excitement among commuters in Manila.
“Cash Cab Philippines is the first locally produced show of [cable channel]AXN for this market, and we are very excited for its debut just in time for Christmas,” announced Gidget Lao, business unit head of AXN Networks Philippines, at the show’s launch in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
“Ryan is an outstanding show host, and our contestants thus far have been great fun as they get into the spirit of show. Moreover, our viewers in turn are really going to love watching Cash Cab as filmed against recognizable landmarks in Manila.”
For the local adaptation, Ryan takes on not just one but two roles. First is a “manong driver” who has to maneuver his taxi in the ever-bustling and congested streets of the metro. Secondly, he finds himself in familiar territory as a game show host who quizzes his passengers to win money.
Ryan acknowledged that the Cash Cab is indeed his most challenging hosting stint to date.
“I’ve been a host for the past 17 years, ever since I was in college. I’m 36 years [old]now, almost a tito,” the seasoned emcee joked. “I’ve done both Filipino and English shows. I’ve been [a]solo [host]or part of an ensemble. I’ve done franchises from abroad as well, but none of it prepared me for Cash Cab.”
He quickly added that what he found useful for the show was drift car racing, as well as having two kids sit behind him in the car through traffic, and needing to talk to them to keep them from getting bored.
“These two things turned me into a multi-tasker, which is a skill that is very much required for this show,” Ryan added.
And besides driving and hosting, the host also needs to constantly communicate with a production team that trails behind him every episode, on top of having glaring lights inside the cab, and again, the infamous Metro Manila traffic.
Ironically though, Ryan revealed that because of the worsening traffic situation, he has actually taken a break from driving, and instead takes a motorcycle to work. His chosen mode of transportation apparently allows him to get home quickly to his pregnant superstar wife Judy Ann Santos and children Yohan and Lucho.
“So it actually becomes a fun experience when I get behind the wheel again for Cash Cab and see the reactions of the passengers when they realize it’s me driving. They actually only start figuring out it’s me when I start speaking in English,” he related.
During the cab ride, Ryan quizzes his passenger on general knowledge. Every correct answer corresponds to a cash prize and the questions become harder over time.
Meanwhile, an incorrect answer warrants a strike, and if once the contestant gets three strikes, they are booted out of the cab even without arriving at their destination. There are two ways, however, they can save themselves if they have no idea on a given question. They are entitled to two “shout outs,” and can either call a friend via phone or ask a random stranger on the street for help.
Recalling a particularly memorable drive, Ryan talked about a group of nurses he took to St. Luke’s Hospital. They won P23,000 in total.
“For me, to be able to drive a cab that makes people happy in traffic is a blessing. It’s fun, and makes the drive one less thing to worry about on the road,” he ended.
Cash Cab premieres with a double episode on December 22, 8:50 p.m. at AXN, with an encore on December 24, 9:15 p.m.