RICKY LO : BODY TALK WITH EQUUS STAR MARCO MANALAC


The name rings no bell yet but it should very soon, especially when the controversial play Equus goes onstage next month at Onstage in Greenbelt 1 in which, like what Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe did on Broadway, he will go frontally nude towards the end in the much-talked-about scene once done on local stage by a younger Leo Martinez.

Mark the name: Marco Mañalac.

Although a relative newcomer, Marco, 21, is not a stranger to showbiz. When he was 14 doing commercials (for, among other products, Globe and Dunkin’ Donuts), Marco was tapped to host Nickelodeon Channel’s Whacked and In The Can but he had to quit after two years to continue his studies at Ateneo de Manila where he tucked up an AB Communication (minor in Literature) degree.

“One cast member quit and I was the replacement,” said Marco who had good friend Sam Concepcion among his co-hosts.

Now that he has graduated cum laude, Marco is deadset on resuming his rudely-interrupted showbiz career while working as marketing director of a prestigious school. He’s also one of the 12 finalists in the MYX Veejay Search.


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In Peter Shaffer’s Equus, Marco will play Alan Strang and the “stripping part” hardly fazes him.

“I am more worried about the acting aspect of it. Equus is my first professional play, so you can just imagine how excited and anxious I am. I’m just thankful that I am blessed with the most supportive and talented crop of theater actors to help, guide and motivate me.”

Directed by Audie Gemora, Equus also stars Miguel Faustmann, Jaime del Mundo, Roselyn Perez, Tami Monsod, Dido dela Paz and Red Concepcion (who plays Alan Strang in some shows).

An Arian (March 27, 1989), Marco stands 5’10”; weighs 145 lbs.; and wears medium-size shirt, size-32 briefs and size-11 shoes.

How did you audition for Equus?

“It was the last day of auditions and my manager told me to try, first asking me, ‘Are you okay with nudity?’ I said, ‘Yeah, fine!’ I didn’t think that I would have a chance but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot. I told myself, ‘Why not? It won’t hurt to give it a try’.”

Did you strip during the audition?

“No. The audition was limited to just acting. I did around five scenes from the play. I have no qualms about stripping. I’m very comfortable with that. I’m freaking out more about the acting and memorizing my lines.”

No plasters in the nude scenes huh?

“None! Wala talaga. I strip in the last two scenes.”

Have you seen the play?

“No, I haven’t but I’ve listened to the audio recording.”

So how are you preparing for the play?

“We have daily rehearsals. I spend whatever time I have studying the script. I’m studying not only my lines but also those of the other characters because they have a lot to say about my character. This is all new to me so I am overwhelmed.”

How do you think your girlfriend, if you have one, will react to the nude scenes?

“Well, it’s tough for her definitely but she has accepted it. She understands that I’m doing it for art; it’s not like I’m cheating on her. I’m not doing anything bad.”

What is your girlfriend into?

“She used to be a member of a band but she’s now trying to go solo. Her name is Samantha Schuck Monson (Daughter of one-time Mutya ng Pilipinas and now beauty-contest organizer Lorraine Schuck. — RFL).”

What about your family?

“My dad is all for it. Even my grandparents knew that there would be nude scenes. And so did my mom. They said that they will all gonna watch. But my mom warned that she might walk out during the last scenes.”

What kind of family do you come from?

“I have a younger brother who is a college freshman in Ateneo. We have a very Catholic upbringing, very religious but at the same time very open. That’s why I think I turned out okay because they didn’t try to suffocate me with rules or a lot of don’t’s. I can go anywhere. They completely trust me.”

Are you clean-living?

“Yes, I am.”

Do you smoke?

“No, I have virgin lungs. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t take drugs. Even when I was small, I promised myself I would never smoke or take drugs.”

Is that the only part virgin about you?

“Every part still is.” (Laughs)

Are you vain…you know, the type who would linger in front of the mirror?

“Oh, I don’t, even if people tell me that I should look at myself in the mirror more often because I don’t dress well daw.”

But you are a model, di ba?

“Oh yes, I am. But dressing for the ramp is different from dressing casually.”

Now that you’re going nude, do you check yourself out in front of the mirror more often?

“Oh, yeah, yeah!”

What part of your body are you proud of?

“My tummy. I think it looks very sexy even if it’s not really buffed, not so formed, kahit hindi naman six-pack.”

So how did you prepare for Equus physically?

“By jogging, doing push-ups, playing basketball. I jog around the village (in Ayala Alabang) where I live with my parents and brother.”

Any part of your body that needs improvement?

“My chest, so I need to do more push-ups.”

What kind of diet do you follow?

“I eat mostly fish, not too much rice, lots of vegetables and fruits. Lately, I’ve been eating lots of chocolates because they’re telling me that I get tired so easily.”

You are not naman sickly, are you?

“No, I’m not.”

How much sleep do you get per night?

“Only as many as four to five hours per night.”

Favorite sleep wear?

“Boxers only, but never completely in the nude because I get cold easily.”

Are you a pillow person?

“I sleep with three pillows — one for my head, one for my legs and the third one I hug.”

Do you snore?

“Yes, I do! How did you guess!?!”

Do you talk in your sleep?

“Yes, I also do!”

Do you sleepwalk?

“Yes, I also do! One time when we were living in Tahanan Village, I actually peed in my shoe closet. I sleepwalked and I thought I was going to the toilet. I have had many incidents of sleepwalking.”

Last thing that you do before you go to sleep.

“Take out my contact lenses. But twice or thrice a week, I forget to do it.”

And the first thing that you do when you wake up?

“Growl! I love sleep and I hate waking up. But the moment I put on my contact lenses I’m awake na.”

Outlook in life?

“Optimistic. Cheerful. It’s only now, the first time in my life that I am panicking…because of Equus.”

How do you relax?

“I read comics books…Marvel comics and others.”

How’s your love life?

“It’s good! I have a girlfriend and we’ve been together for five months.”

And your sex life?

“My girlfriend and I know our boundaries. It’s not being pure but the fact that we are so scared of the consequences.”

Nightlife?

“Hardly any. I’m not the sosyal type; I’m anti-social pa nga, eh. It’s my girlfriend Sam who takes me out, usually to social functions.”

Name three women you think have nice bodies.

“Olivia Munn (host of the US TV show Attack of the Show). Jennifer Connelly (wife of Paul Bettany who plays the albino in The Da Vinci Code). Jessica Alba.”

And three men who you think have nice bodies.

“Colin Farrell. Ashton Kutcher. Derek Ramsay.”

In Equus, you will be using body language in fleshing out your character. Using only body language, how would you make a woman know that you admire her?

“I use my hands. If there’s an opportunity, I would put my hand over her hand. What could be more physical than that!”

(Note: Equus opens on July 9 at 8 p.m. and thereafter on July 10, 16, 23 and 24, same time. Matinees are at 3:30 p.m. on July 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25. Venue is Onstage at the 2nd Floor of Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. For ticket inquiries, call 887-0710.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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