For the most part, having a Peter Pan complex—an inability to grow up or engage in behavior usually associated with adulthood—is definitely not something to be desired. Model and Metro Channel's Beached host Marc Nelson, however, makes it seem like an idealized lifestyle that one is wont to mimic. Since this multicultural hottie arrived in Philippine shores, he has made a living out of adventure travel in a multitude of spectacular locations, spanning the entire length of his illustrious career, putting his own definitive stamp on what it means to never grow up.
How would you define being called “classic?”
I’d like to think that classic is something that stands the test of time, and never really goes out of fashion.
When people look at you what do you think they see or think?
What they think is probably: “Why isn't he wearing a shirt?”
Do you like to go shirtless often?
It seems that for the last 20 years, all my shows locally here in the Philippines had a very similar "uniform," which is basically me in board shorts and shades, whether be Sports Unlimited before or now, Beached. I guess I’m kinda used to it. It fits and ties in very well with my lifestyle: I’m at the beach for work, and when I’m not working, I’m at the beach for pleasure.
[related: #ABSCBNLifestyleInspo Coleen Garcia: Here Are My Fave Beaches In The World!]
What are three interesting facts about you that people may not know?
Number one, I’m not Filipino. I’m of English, Burmese, and Chinese heritage but Australian-born. But I feel very Filipino because Filipinos are just as mixed as I am. Another thing that I thought people knew but apparently didn’t (because my friends told me last night that they were surprised about this fact) is that I grew up in Africa—in Tanzania and Kenya—as well as here in the Philippines, Hongkong, and obviously, Australia. (I spent) three years in Tanzania, one year in Kenya, four years in the Philippines, interspersed with the times I went back to Australia. Once I finished college, I went off and since then, I’ve been living in Canada, the US, and the Philippines. I moved around a lot. Number three, I’ve been scuba diving since I was 12.
[related: Hot Stuff: Tech's Current—And Crucial—Role In Travel Discussed At International Tourism Day]
Going back to your second fact, what made you decide to stay here in the Philippines?
I came here with a backpack. I came actually to go diving. I finished working in Canada and a buddy of mine just finished his contract in Shanghai, so we decided to meet up for some diving in the Philippines. I came here for maybe a month of diving and to figure out what I wanted to do next in my life. I probably would have moved to England, get a job in either in the hospitality industry or development aid, as that was my degree. I went to Macquarie University in Sydney and (took up) Human Geography, which is much like social anthropology. (It's about) studying people, places, cultures, socio-economic and political systems, which was actually my third choice of a major. I switched majors three times because I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I should probably have a degree. I ended up with what I was good at—which were things that I already knew and I was interested in, which was basically studying about other countries.
I was here (in Manila) in the 80s as a kid. My stepfather worked with the Asian Development Bank. I was an expat brat going to IS. I would spend my weekends in Anilao and Maya-Maya. I came back on my own in 1997. Then, I left in 2000, moved to the States, came back in 2001 for vacation, and just stayed—again! So, apart from those six months in the States, I was pretty much based here in the Philippines.
[related: #ABSCBNLifestyleInspo Martine Cajucom-Ho: Looking Back At Our Homegrown Brand's Humble Beginnings]
What is the thing that you like to do in an old fashioned way? And why?
I don’t know if it’s old fashioned or maybe it’s just unusual for a lot of Filipinos, but I like to do my own cooking. I know a lot of my friends have staff that do the cooking and the groceries and everything, but I like to do my own groceries. I like to do my own cooking. I enjoy cooking! For me, it’s therapeutic and I get to cook my favorite dishes.
A lot of pasta (like) stroganoffs (and) lasagna is a big favorite of my friends! Sometimes, I’ll try and cook some of my mom’s dishes. There’s a Burmese Laksa dish which I know how to cook but I don’t very often because it takes a long, long time! So. I get her to cook it for me when she visits. Then, all of my friends come over and enjoy it!
If we reversed the question, what’s something modern that you like?
I’m a techie! I love my gadgets! I love my phone—my iPhone is my office! It goes with me everywhere and I use it for everything. Traveling 20 to 30 years ago was a very different experience that a lot of people nowadays have no idea of what it felt like! You would have to go to a travel agency and you would have to trust them to find you the best flight. Plus, you would have to try and get the travel agency to book you a hotel in advance. When I started backpacking, a lot of the times I would turn up in a place that I have no idea where I was staying, and need to find it when I arrived. Nowadays, with AirBnB, Hostel World, and Agoda, and all of these things, I can book my entire trip in 20 minutes on my phone. For someone who loves to travel as much as I do, that is something I really appreciate: the convenience of the technology.
[related: Cheat Sheet: These Mobile Travel Apps Are The Handiest Things You Can Have On Your Next Trip!]
What are your childhood habits that you thought you would outgrow but didn’t?
I don’t think I want to outgrow any of my childhood habits!
Any specific activities that you had as a kid that still you still find yourself doing?
Traveling and diving.
Can you pretty much say that you are a natural kid at heart?
I’m very much a kid at heart. If you read my Instagram profile, there’s something in there about being Peter Pan in Never Never Land. The Philippines is my Never Never Land! I can be more responsible but I don’t want to grow up as such, because I don’t think you should ever lose the childish playfulness that lets you want to experience and enjoy life. If you get too bogged down with being serious, it creates a lot of stress. Responsibility doesn’t have to equate to a stressful life—I find a lot of people go that way. They forget how to relax and have some fun. Whilst it’s important as you age to be mature (and) be responsible, don’t lose sight of what it’s like to enjoy things and to continue to enjoy things.
[related: Hot Stuff: This Major Soda Brand Turned Its Bottle Labels Into Wearable 'Pride' Wristbands!]
How do you personally feel about social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?
There’s a certain duality to it; there’s the good and the bad. The bad obviously is the addiction. Even for myself, I find that I have to kick myself off social media every now and again. Like, “Okay, you just spent an hour scrolling and watching videos that really aren’t going to do any good in your life. Get out there, do something. Go to the gym or go out in the garden and play with the cats.” On top of that, I do see that a lot of people are very focused or concerned on being "Instagram-happy," or presenting their "Instagram-happy" lifestyle when in reality, it’s not entirely true. I’m the same! If I take a picture, I want to make sure that it’s a nice picture and when I post it I want it to be all good vibes. I don’t really want to be posting stuff that will bring people down, but I also really think that it’s important to use your social media to influence people in the correct way. For me, it’s usually got something to do with the environment. I’m with the WWF (WorldWide Fund for Nature), and we have a #AyokoNgPlastik campaign that is trying to get people to stop using single use plastics. I want people to be aware of what’s going on in the world, how we can help the environment, how we can influence other people to do the right thing, how we can educate kids. That’s one of the benefits of social media. It’s an instantaneous way of getting a message across. But, people get very, very tied up, especially young people, with just being so focused on “Oh, I need more followers! I need to expose myself like this! I need to be super happy!” (But) inside, they could be somewhat lacking. They may lack having personal, face to face relationships. They may lack the social graces when it comes to dealing with people because everything’s done online now.
What is the most surprising self-realization you’ve had?
That I’m no longer the youngest person in the world? There was a time, many, many, many, many years ago, when I was in school, I was one of the youngest people in class! That stayed with me for a long time (up to) when I was working (or) traveling. But now, I’m generally the oldest person in the room. Ha ha!
[related: Love Actually: How These Stars And Their Non-Celeb BFFs Get To Live The Best Of Both Worlds!]
Would you say that you ever “feel your age?"
Do I ever feel my age? No, never. I think I probably stopped feeling my age in my early 30s.
How did you come to that?
I don’t know, I still do the same things. Nothing has stopped, nothing has slowed down. I’m still passionate about the same things that I was passionate about before. I’m still active, doing the same old things I was doing back then, sometimes even better or even more now. I mean—knock on wood—my body is still in one piece, my brain is still slogging away, as it has always been. Life has been very good to me and I always put that down to having some alone time and keeping a low stress lifestyle. I think that’s very very important. It goes back to that whole “Never lose the kid inside you” kind of thing. I’ve grown up, I’ve grown older, I’ve grown a little bit more mature, and maybe a little more responsible but I’m still having as much fun as I’ve always had.
[related: Cheat Sheet: How Hyphenated Hunk Gerald Anderson Can Do Everything He Wants—And Stay THAT Hot]
What do you think is the best and worst thing about getting older?
The best thing? Is there a best thing? Yes, you have more money. Hopefully. But yes, not always! Ha ha! When you’re young and you’re fresh out of college, you have all of these desires! You wanna do all these things, you wanna try all these things, you wanna maybe contribute to a lot of different things. But when you just stopped being a struggling student, it’s financially difficult to do that. As you get older, you find your career path, then you start saving some money, then, hopefully, if you have planned your life out correctly, you have more disposable income in which to invest in certain things (like) to travel more. (It's) something I’m taking full advantage of now, and also contribute to causes or things you believe in of course. That is a little bonus for being a little older. The worst is that it’s a lot harder to work out. You just need to play the game: it comes with learning more as you get older. You have to train a lot smarter.
How do you train smarter?
Now, I’ve realized how much of health and fitness is related to diet rather than just working out, and then also mixing things up. I also find that I get bored with just a standard workout so I like to mix things up and be physical with things like kiteboarding, obstacle course racing, or free diving: something different to keep my mind active and to keep shocking my body into doing different movements. Diet wise? Intermittent fasting! Oh, my god, that, for me, is one of the greatest modern discoveries as far as healthy eating is concerned! I did it for a few years, like maybe five years ago and then I stopped and I tried something different, but I’ve been back on it for over a year now. At the age I’m in, I found it is the healthiest lifestyle and the most convenient. It’s a very social way of eating! Much better than saying that you’re going to need to stop eating certain things “I can’t eat that, I can’t eat that,” which makes you very boring as a dinner guest. You go over to a friends house and they’re like “We cooked this wonderful meal for you!” and you’re like, “Oh, no, I’m sorry I can’t eat that. Can I just have some boiled eggs or chicken breast?” With intermittent fasting, I can eat relatively well, whatever I feel like and I can finish eating whenever the dinner finishes and I’ll just adjust my schedule. When I finish eating at 10 PM, then I just don’t eat until 2 pm the next day. It’s keeps me in decent shape, with good energy levels and decently focused!
[related: In Focus: Seriously, No Need To Starve Yourself Aiming For A Luscious 'It Girl' Bod! Just Try This!]
In terms of sports, what’s something that you eventually wanna try?
I think I’ve tried them all! Maybe paragliding? And I’d like to try BASE jumping! But I know it’s such a long process to get to the point when you can BASE jump, because you (would) need a certain amount of skydives. I think you need a hundred-plus skydives under your belt before you even get to try BASE jumping. That’s a lot of effort, so maybe I'll just stick to kiteboarding. My new sport right now is freediving and I would like to get a lot better at that.
How different was your life 10 years ago?
The only difference from 10 years ago is that I was doing a show called Sports Unlimited and now I’m doing a show called Beached. Really, they’re almost the same show if I’m being completely honest. Haha! My co-host before was my good friend Dyan Castillejo and my co-host now is my other dear friend, Maggie Wilson-Consunji. (Maggie) is the wife of one of my best friends, the mother of my inaanak and also my neighbor. It’s great working with friends and it’s great going and seeing the most incredible beaches around the island. We have 7,643 islands in the Philippines—I haven’t hit all of it yet but I’m slowly getting there!
[related: Hot Stuff: Pia, Maggie, Marc, And More Style Authorities Turn Up The Heat On 'Metro Channel!' ]
Is that a personal goal of yours?
To see every island? I don’t think I’ll ever see every island but I want to keep seeing new ones every year! I don’t think I’ll get to every one of them but as long as I continually get to see new ones, then I’m good with that. The one thing I like about the new show is that there’s always an environmental segment. That was very important to me when they first contacted me about hosting the show. The fact that it’s an important, integral part of the show is what makes me love it so much! It shows people that yes, we have all these great beaches but we also need to take care of them. These are the people who are doing the best to take care of them. These are the problems that this area faces. (Beached) is not all glitz and glam, it’s also a bit of a reality check for everyone that is going to these places and an encouragement to be responsible tourists.
Are there any specific goals that you want to achieve in the next couple of years?
I’d like to be more instrumental in changing the mindset of Filipinos when it comes to the environment, such as saying no to single use plastics and just being more aware. I wish I could influence the industry and the government to do more (and) to take a more active role in stopping the production of single use plastic, of the sachet culture, and then also finding alternatives— whether it be the use of corn starch or cassava plastics, or putting a tax on plastics, or finding more efficient ways of recycling. In the Philippines, we don’t really recycle. Even if we segregate at home, a lot of the time they are just going to throw it all in the same pile when it’s picked up. That frustrates the hell out of me! We are a country of a 107 million people, which is not huge in the grand scale of things. But we are the third largest plastic polluter in the world. Only China and Indonesia (the largest and fourth largest country in the World) produce more plastic waste than us. It’s disappointing and embarrassing.
What do you most look forward to in the next 10 years?
I’m looking forward to hopefully finding someone whom I can share this wonderful adventure called life. Hopefully.
ALSO READ: Lifestyle Buzz: Where To Go, What To Wear, And Everything Else This Lunar New Year!
Produced and directed by Mels Timan and Jeffrey Hidalgo | Interview by Angela Sy | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Makeup by Carmel Villongco for Dior | Hair by Triple Luck Brow & Hair Salon | Shot on location at Discovery Suites Ortigas
Clothes: All model’s own