Marc Nelson: TV Host, Freediver, and World Traveler

You may read about the experiences of our community of divers and ocean enthusiasts in the Deepblu Diver Spotlight series. This week, Marc Nelson gave us an opportunity to ask him questions about his life, his passion of diving, and his involvement in conservation. A well-known and significant figure on Philippine television is Marc Nelson. In addition to hosting "Beached" on Metro Channel, he has also presented the Elite Model Search, Miss Earth, and Asia's Got Talent.

Deepblu: For those in the dive community who might not be familiar with your work and career, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Marc Nelson: Well, I've been a travel-focused television host in the Philippines and other parts of Asia for quite a while. I visit some of the top beaches in the world while filming my current show, "Beached," which takes me across the nation. I'm not sure what I did in my previous existence to merit this kind of job, but I'm grateful nonetheless!

You have traveled quite a bit! You have traveled to more than 40 nations and have lived in seven of them, according to The Collective Asia. How has travel changed your perspective on the world?

I believe I have been to roughly 60 countries at this point, but it did help that I got started young and was always on the go with my mother and stepfather.

Going to new schools in a foreign nation helped me learn how to adjust and to realize that, despite how bizarre other cultures may seem at first, we're actually not all that dissimilar. It has undoubtedly taught me to respect people from various backgrounds and professions.

In comparison to all these other nations you've visited, what do you like best about the Philippines?

Without a doubt, it's people. They are the kindest people you will ever meet, in addition to being extraordinarily resilient in the face of hardship like natural disasters. The phrase "Kain Tayo," which means "let's eat," is used frequently here. And you'll frequently hear that from complete strangers. They truly mean it. They'll actually make room for you and share their food if you say yes. Where else does that occur in the world?

Do you have any favorite obscure places that you believe more people ought to visit?

That depends a lot on what you're searching for, I suppose. Many tourists travel to Boracay and Cebu in the Philippines, but the actual beauty may be found in less popular locations like San Vicente, Port Barton (both in Palawan). Through my favorites are  Camiguin Island, Siargao, Coron, and El Nido.

Where’s the best food in the Philippines?

The Filipinos are very proud of the cuisine in their province, so I'll have to be careful how I respond. On the other hand, the food scene in Manila has really taken off recently, and you can now find delicious dishes from nearly any cuisine there. Around Poblacion in Makati, there are several small but excellent eateries (such as Holy Smokes BBQ, where I am a partner only because the food is unbelievable! ), however BGC and the malls also provide some fantastic options. In terms of the islands, I believe Siargao is gradually displacing Boracay as the greatest option for food (try the calamansi muffins at Real Coffee). There are so many fantastic restaurants there right now (see out our Mexican bar/restaurant Zicatela and another that will open soon called Wild). In addition, Kermits, Lamari, Bulan, Shaka, Kalinaw, and Harana are excellent restaurants.

Amazing dive sites can be found throughout the Philippines. Would you mind naming a few of your favorites?

I'd have to choose the Tubbataha Reef off the coast of Palawan for scuba diving. To get there, you must take a liveaboard boat, but once you arrive, the trip is totally worthwhile! Incredible visibility, breathtaking drop-offs, and sharks and turtles on every dive. Since it has been a very well-managed World Heritage Site, there is five times as much marine life there as there is elsewhere in the nation.

Coron would have to be my pick for freediving. Exploring old WWII wrecks or diving down Barracuda Lake's cliffs is both thrilling and unsettling. Romblon deserves special note since it contains a unique "blue hole" that is fantastic for freediving.

Have you always loved diving, or did you just discover free diving recently?

I've always enjoyed being in the water, and when I was younger, when I snorkeled, I suppose I was "freediving." In fact, that is how I came to discover scuba diving. However, I didn't begin taking lessons formally until I completed my SSI level 1 in the Indonesian Gili Islands a few years ago. And I did it for the purpose of better preparing myself for a freediving excursion with sharks in Hawaii later that year. Who knew it was the beginning of a new hobby?

Do you also enjoy scuba diving?

When my parents dove, I would snorkel above them and play in their bubbles because they were both BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) scuba instructors. I would Freedive down to join them as they played and swam around when they came up to perform their safety stop. After a few months, my parents decided they may as well start teaching me how to scuba dive. I therefore began my education at age 11 and became a 3rd class BSAC at age 12. (roughly equivalent to a PADI rescue diver).

I still adore scuba diving and frequently do it on my program, but I must say that right now I prefer freediving.

You manage to fit in a lot of conservation and charitable work as the Ambassador for WWF & WorldVision along with other projects in addition to your hectic job schedule. Why is your involvement in these projects essential to you?

Growing up on the shore and in close proximity to nature helps you appreciate the beauty of what you have, but as time passes, I notice that many of the places I've visited have changed—often for the worst. Finding a beach or dive spot free of plastic waste is really difficult. Fish and other marine species aren't as abundant as they once were, and coral reefs are being destroyed by bleaching, fishing nets, anchors, and even graffiti. If I can utilize whatever influence I have to motivate people to care for the environment more responsibly, hopefully that "drop in the ocean" effort from myself and others will cause a chain reaction that inspires more people to take action.

Additionally, I consider myself to be really fortunate and to have a beautiful life, so it only makes natural for me to devote part of my free time to assisting those who didn't have the same opportunities as me, are going through difficult times, or simply need a helping hand. There are many wonderful organizations in this country that carry out admirable work, and I'm just grateful that they provide opportunities for people like us to contribute.

Do you have any recommendations for those who are new to diving or who are terrified of the ocean?

I believe there are two requirements for good diving.

  1. Practice. You grow better the more you do it, whether it's breath-holding for freediving or buoyancy and air management for scuba.
  2. Feeling at ease in the water is perhaps the biggest component. I can't emphasize enough what a difference that will make. The longer you can hold your breath, use less scuba air, or slowly correct your buoyancy, the more relaxed you are.

Take it slow if you are afraid of the ocean. Snorkeling and water entry should come first. Once you’re comfy with that, then do a shallow shore entry intro dive, preferably with a sandy bottom, and work your way up from there.

I once met a man who struggled to swim and nearly perished when trying snorkeling for the first time. He was resolved to learn how to swim so that it wouldn't happen again, and in just a few short years, he was in possession of half a dozen Philippine national freediving records. Martin Zapanta is a role model for everyone who isn't a swimmer but wants to get in the water.

Anything else you’d like to share with our audience?

Oh, let's see... I love cats, blue is my favorite color, and I enjoy taking long walks on the ocean.  Also, I'm an Aquarius.

I'm joking. I'm a really straightforward man who loves the ocean and wants to show everyone the beauty of the natural world so that they will all want to actively participate in protecting it.


by Iris Lin, Deepblu Mag Editor


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