Marc Nelson grew up all over the world. He has seen more places than the average guy has. But for this restless soul, there’s only one place he calls home -- the Philippines.
To prove that he’s not just paying lip service to the “Filipino at heart” tag, Marc actually bought himself a place in Mahogany 3, Fort Bonifacio. In this, his little paradise, Marc is himself and immune from the cares of the world.
His friends live nearby to comfort him, if he needs it. He has his game room, a big kitchen, swimming pool, his pocket garden. And he can’t ask for more.
The living is easy, and Marc himself admits he must have done something good to deserve all these. Let’s find out why as he takes answers questions for ONLY ON OMG!
OMG: How many years have you been in the Philippines so far?
Marc: I’ve been here (pause) for a long time.
OMG: What made you stay that long?
Marc: There’s much potential here. We have the most incredible population in the world. We have the happiest people in the world. The concept of “kain tayo” is incredible. It means “come, visit us.”
OMG: How does the Philippines compare to the other countries you’ve been to?
Marc: The environment here in the Philippines is so blessed. I’ve been traveling around the country for so long, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see more of the country than most people have. I’m continuously blown away with what this country has to offer. You have scuba diving here, you have mountains, you have rainforests. I would love to promote the Philippine tourism more. Just give it more infrastructure and the Philippines can blow Thailand off the map . Sure, we can learn from Thailand. It’s probably the most tourist-friendly place in Southeast Asia. But we have everything they have to offer and more.
OMG: And so that’s why you decided to get a place here?
Marc: I’ve lived here longer than I have had in any other country. This is home. I grew up all over the world – in Sydney, in Tasmania, East Africa, Kenya, Hong Kong and Canada. We’re always moving around. We move and move every two years. And that’s why I always wondered where I would end up while I was growing up. I never knew I would actually settle here.
When friends from the US and Canada visit me here, they know very well why I’ve decided to stay. My mom, brother and his family are arriving in January next year. My sister is coming here in February next year, and she’ll probably stick around for a few months. I’m trying to get the rest of my family to come and visit more often.
OMG: How’s your house like?
Marc: It’s a three-bedroom, three-storey house with a huge kitchen. I love to cook So I made sure my house has the kitchen I always dreamed of having. I can honestly say it’s a stunning working kitchen with everything I can possibly need.
I’m planning to turn one of the large decks into a game room. I also have a nice garden. I like to furnish my house with things I’ve found while traveling, I take photos of places I go to so I can always look back to it when I go back home.
OMG: The house is very Marc. The game room shows the sports-minded guy in you. The garden speaks of your love for nature and the environment, right?
Marc: I’ve been with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) for the past year. I feel so depressed sometimes when I go to a beautiful waterfall. It’s pristine, it’s gorgeous. Then, I see packets of chips and softdrink cans and everything l just floating around. People don’t care. It’s one of my pet peeves.
And cigarette butts take forever to biodegrade! I’m so glad the new local government in Boracay is very strict about smoking on the beach. There’s no smoking on the beach in Boracay. You get fined. And that’s nice because I hate walking along the beach seeing cigarette butts, I would pick up cigarette butts for very hundred meters or every 50 meters even.
I’m now into kiteboarding, one the most eco-friendly sports you can find. It’s non-motorized. All you need is a board and a kite. It’s wind-driven, so there’s no detrimental effect on the environment.
OMG: Can you tell us more about kiteboarding?
Marc: It’s a very new sport that was brought to the Philippines in 2002. It’s a sport Filipinos can excel in. It’s an advantage to be more compact, lighter and smaller in kiteboarding because you move faster. Boracay is is one of the major destinations in Asia for kiteboarding and our kiteboarders do very well. One of my kiteboarding instructors got second place in an Asia tour last year. I believe kiteboarding will be incredibly popular in a few years to come.
OMG: What about the market for extreme sports?
Marc: It’s growing. The only limitation for extreme sports in the Philippines is funding. But if we give Filipinos access to equipment, it’s amazing what they can do. Look at surfing. Backpacking surfers funded it. Next thing you know,we’ve got guys winning national competitions. The same thing will happen to kiteboarding.
OMG: Do you still have time to go the gym?
Marc: If I’m in town, I try to go the gym at least thrice a week. If I’m really busy, I have an excellent trainer. Your trainer or work-out buddy will push you. To me, that’s very important, for someone to help push you. An important rule of training is to just go to the gym, just show up. Showing up is 70 percent of the work because once you’re there, you will do something. Even a half-hour workout, it ten times better than just sitting there.
I’m naturally very slim, so my workout is lifting heavy weights for an hour, half an hour of cardio and another half an hour for my abs.
OMG: You’re a certified health buff. Are you taking this passion to the next level?
Marc: If I cook at home, I know that number one, it doesn’t have too many additives and everything that’s really bad for you. I want to promote great-tasting food that’s healthy. If you get out of the practice of eating junk food, you’ll feel better, healthier and you’ll have more energy.
I’m now working with a company that will bring out healthy snacks that looks good.
OMG: Any other businesses?
Marc: I’ve invested in a small, eco-friendly kiteboarding resort near Boracay which keeps me busy. I’m also into real estate development with friends. The kiteboarding resort is partly business and partly for pleasure.
OMG: But isn’t it a bad time to put up a business in Boracay since a lot of people are worried about the sand erosion?
Marc: It doesn’t affect my business because I’m not on the mainland, which can be quite crowded at times. I’m only five minutes away from the airport. I have so many friends who live there and have businesses there. Like most people who have been going there for years, you cringe because it’s not like what it used to be.
Business should be responsible in Boracay. It still has its charm. It has a certain magic that will always be there. But you just need to find certain areas on the island to recapture its original magic. Don’t just party, go there to appreciate nature. Check out the bat cave. Go to the Bulabog community on the other side.
OMG: What do you say to tourists destroying the environment?
Marc: It comes with education. If you’re a responsible scuba diver, you know you don’t take anything and you don’t drop anchor on coral reefs. It’s the job of the dive masters to make sure they teach their clients to protect the environment.
But as much as we educate the foreigners, we also educate ourselves. We can’t tell tourists they need to be cleaner and better when the local population doesn’t do the same thing.
OMG: Is your busy sked the reason why the thought of marriage hasn’t crossed your mind?
Marc: It’s not because I haven’t thought about it. I’m busy with work. I’m busy traveling. I don’t get to meet as many people as I might like. Of course, I’d like to meet someone but then you have to be careful and make sure you meet the right one. At the back of your mind, you think of your friends who are married or attached and ask, “Why hasn’t it happened to me yet?”
But my mom told me there’s no rush, no pressure. She told me I can take my time.
OMG: As it is, you already have `children’ whom you help out, right?
Marc: I don’t have biological children but it’s nice to help a few children through World Vision. I was very fortunate to meet the first few children (whose education) I sponsored. They’re like 11 and 12. They come from a marginalized community. One of them is graduating with honors. It’s amazing what they can achieve. They have the potential to go so much further.
It’s nice to help a few children. I want a lot of people to do that as well.
I really enjoy it when I engage in sports I love. But helping people and seeing how much they appreciate it gives me a different kind of joy.
Here's a video of the OMG! Purple Seat interview of Marc Nelson, who reveals his secrets on keeping fit and healthy:
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