What keeps contestants coming back to the Subaru Palm Challenge?

Why relive the hardship?
by Jason Tulio | Oct 28, 2017

Have you ever tried to stand in one spot for a really long time? Maybe you were waiting in line to sign up for your college courses, or you stood out in the hot sun for a jeepney that never came. It sucks, right? Your muscles and joints cramp up with every passing second, and before long you feel the urge to sit down and give up altogether.

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And yet, it's those same mental and physical hardships that returning participants of the annual Subaru Palm Challenge put themselves through each year. Rain or hot sun be damned, these contestants endure whatever pain comes their way for hours on end for the chance to win a brand-new Subaru vehicle. And it's not just cramps and sore joints, either. Many competitors start to hallucinate and black out, as the effects of dehydration, hunger, and lack of sleep take their toll.

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But wouldn't saving up for a car be easier than putting yourself through all of that? It's one thing to do it for the car, but why on earth would anyone do it over and over again?

On the eve of this year's contest in Singapore, we caught up with two returning Filipino veterans to seek some answers. Like brave soldiers marching into unknown waters to wage war with the enemy, or brave athletes putting their bodies through endless, punishing workouts, what keeps these Palm Challenge contestants going boils down to the same three things: family, country, and pride.

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Alex Neblasca, an auto detailer by trade, was the last Filipino standing during last year's Challenge, holding out for nearly 74 hours to finish third overall. At first, he joined for the obvious reasons of monetary and automotive gain. But for him, returning to Singapore year in and year out is a chance to settle what he calls "unfinished business." With his eighth contest looming, he hopes that he'll finally be the one crowned champion. But there's a bigger reason why he keeps coming back--one that hits close to home.

"For me, yung [motivation ko] yung family ko na lang. Yung family ko na nandito to support. Then yung mga friends at kababayan natin dito, yun yung nag momotivate sa akin to continue pag nag-cheer sila. Mas pinipilit ko pa mag stay sa game," Alex says.

Besides doing his friends and family proud, Alex also feels the nervousness that comes with representing the red, white, blue, and yellow flag.

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"Iniisip din namin na kami yung representative [ng Pilipinas]. Sa dami-dami na pwedeng sumali, kami yung pinili so dagdag pressure sa amin," he shares. "Hindi ko alam kung kakayanin ko pero pipilitin ko since ang daming umaasa, yung pressure nandoon."

He's joined by Juntie G. Torres, who's returning for his fifth contest after winning the Philippine leg earlier this year. For Juntie, it's all about keeping the bigger picture of fulfilling his family's dreams in mind.

He reveals: "Yung Challenge kasi, talagang [mahirap] sa mind, body, and spirit. Kailangan matatag ka, malakas ka. Kailangan talagang motivated ka para maging successful ka. Yung pagtitiis, kailangan magawa mo."

To Alex, Juntie, and the rest of the Filipino hopefuls, we wish you all the best of luck this year. No matter what happens, your countrymen and Top Gear PH are proud of you. We'll be reporting on this year's Palm Challenge action live from Singapore as it happens, so stay tuned.

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PHOTO: Mark Jesalva
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