We’ve probably seen every take imaginable on reality TV. From strangers put together in a house to dating contests, cunning endurance tests, episodic family documentaries, travelogues, and soap operas, we’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to “real” human drama and antics. To whoever first thought of producing unscripted forms of small-screen entertainment, thank you for the good (and yes, even the bad) shows we’ve been subjected to for the past decade or so.
As overloaded as we are right now, most of the local or regional reality TV shows we’re seeing are based on overseas franchises. Rarely do we get an original unscripted production that’s set in familiar territory, with people we’re equally familiar with. KIX, a regional channel specializing in action-oriented shows, tweaks its strategy with its first adventure production, aptly named The Ultimate BROcation—and it’s something tailor-made for both Philippine and Asian audiences, and reality TV fans in general.
“Most, if not all, of our programs are from overseas,” began Andy Chang, KIX’s senior vice president of Advertising Sales, Marketing and Original Productions, during the show’s press conference last month in Quezon City. “When we thought about creating an original production, [we asked ourselves] what our audience from the Philippines would like to see… [we thought] they’d want to see a bunch of guys having an adventure, having a good time, doing funny and silly things that are ultimately relatable.” This starting idea quickly blossomed into getting four Asian men who are well-known in their respective countries and industries, and sending them to Hong Kong for five days to see a different side of the financial center.
Those are the winning ingredients for The Ultimate BROcation. “It’s a bro vacation,” continued Chang. “You leave your girlfriends and wives behind, and you go with your bros and have a good time… [it’s] every guy’s fantasy vacation. We want the audience to live vicariously through these bros, and just see the adventures that they can have themselves, with their friends.”
KIX picked an excellent Philippine representative in Billy Crawford, an international show business veteran whose career spans multiple albums, TV shows, and movies. Charismatic, witty, and curious, he was more than game for the five-day vacation spent with Malaysian rapper SonaOne, Thai DJ and TV host Piyawat Kempetch (a.k.a. P.K.), Singaporean chef and restaurateur Bjorn Shen, and Hong Kong martial artist Philip Ng.
It didn’t take much to convince Crawford to pack his bags. It was a free break for him, and “it’s Hong Kong,” he explained. “[It’s] one of my favorite cities… I’ve been going back and forth for four years now. It’s just the best place to actually be free, let go, and just relax.” He also emphasized his love for fast-paced and explorable cities, and how Hong Kong reminded him of his old home city of New York in terms of feel and vibe.
The boys’s itinerary for those five days was as jampacked and fun as their host city, but Crawford mentioned several activities and destinations that made his “ultimate” list. Expect to see these bros party in a yacht along Victoria Harbour; taste different wines at a tram party; chow down on congee at Law Fu Kee hot pot in Mongkok, and street food (including dried worms) at Temple Street; trying out drifting and flyboarding; racing to Victoria Peak; and getting into a hot tub in Cabana at Hong Kong’s Repulse Bay.
The opportunity to meet new and interesting people also got Crawford to say yes to the show, although like most people, he felt some hesitation before meeting his fellow bros. But he added that “at the end of the day, if you keep an open mind, it will all work out, and it did!”
Turns out he had nothing to worry about; he hit it off really well with his other bros, but especially with SonaOne, mainly for their similar career trajectories, and passion for music and performing. He mentioned having a lot of common ground as well with P.K., and that they still keep in touch and catch up whenever Crawford’s in Hong Kong. Philip, he described as “really intimidating.” And if Crawford had one day in the shoes of one of the bros, he would choose Bjorn’s, because his line of work is the “[total] opposite of what I do… being a chef, being creative, that’s something that’s interesting for me.”
Now that The Ultimate BROcation is set to premiere this month, would Crawford do it again, if asked? He had only two words for us: “Yeah! Definitely!” However, he’d choose to return to Hong Kong with his girlfriend, actress and model Coleen Garcia, instead of his three other bros. But it wouldn’t be their first trip to the city; he told the audience that a week after the show wrapped, he returned there with Garcia and showed her around.
What if he’s tasked with hosting the next installment of the show—and in the Philippines, no less? Crawford has a solid plan: he would “Take them North to South; East to West. Take ‘em to Quezon City, the heart of the entertainment industry, all the good food and restos, the Fort, the South, somewhere in Batangas, go diving in Anilao, and maybe take a trip to Palawan. I hope they can see the really great scenic spots here in the Philippines.”
The Ultimate BROcation isn’t the only project of Crawford’s that his fans can look forward to this month and next year. As he’s wrapping up hosting duties on Pinoy Band Superstar, he’ll do the same task for Your Face Sounds Familiar’s third season, and the upcoming Philippine edition of Dancing with the Stars. He also stated that work on his next album is almost done, and that 2017 may see a launch date for that project. Good job, bro.
“The Ultimate BROcation” premieres on KIX on December 14, 2016, at 9 p.m. Philippine Time. Subsequent episodes will air every Wednesday night, also at 9 p.m. PHT. Tune in for encore episodes on Saturdays at 8 p.m. “The Ultimate BROcation” is produced by KIX, the Endemol Shine Group, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Philippine viewers can watch KIX shows on SKY Cable (channel 63), Destiny Cable (63), Cablelink (54), Cignal TV (133), and Gsat (18). For more information, visit http://www.kix-tv.com/.