MANILA -- Not too many showbiz stars can easily adapt to people from any social status. But that is not a tall order for actor Edu Manzano, who said he does not have a problem relating to people from all walks of life.
“Social dynamics!” Manzano beamed. “I believe I honed that skill because of my life in the movies. Being an actor, mga tao mula sa ibaba up to the richest, I can relate to all of them. Wala akong problema doon.”
After nearly 40 years in the entertainment industry, Manzano has not slowed down. He recently wrapped up work in ABS-CBN’s primetime teleserye, “Ang Probinsyano.”
However, Manzano inevitably had to leave showbiz to run for Congress in the lone district of San Juan. Starting this Saturday, he officially embarks on a grueling campaign. Thankfully, the 63-year-old actor is fit and strong.
“One nice thing about being also in the movies, you can see the ideas of the youth,” Manzano attested. “I am active and I can connect better with the youth.”
It was in 1977 when Manzano came home from the US. From the time he was 17, he joined the US Air Force and served for four years.
Manzano is the second and eldest boy in a brood of four children. His dad was Adi Manzano, who died at the age of 62, while his mom was Rosario Barrios-Manzano. He was succeeded by identical twins – Enrique Carlos and Jose Mari.
“My dad made all of us enter the military, even the twins,” Manzano said. “To put it bluntly, my dad didn’t want the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. He wanted me to be unique. I think his wish came true.”
His twin brothers are younger than him by only 11 months. “One was good in science, the other was good in math,” Manzano allowed. “During exams, they would exchange test papers in the classroom.”
The eldest is the only girl, Manzano’s sister, Maria Lucia Teresa. “She was in the US for 25 years, but she returned to the Philippines to take care of my ailing mother,” Manzano said. “When she came back, she decided not to leave anymore. She bought a house in Baguio and lives there.”
When he returned to Manila, Manzano applied as a production assistant (PA) for balladeer Basil Valdez.
“Did you know I used to carry Basil’s suits?” Manzano said proudly. “I was his PA for two years. Ang galing kong mamalantsa. I was the original Iron Man.
“To me, Basil is the best-dressed singer. All his suits were tailor-made. He would buy his suits abroad. Ayaw niya ng may lukot. No creases.”
Manzano credits his stint with the US military for being always proper and clean with his clothes. “Very strict sila sa uniform,” he said. Up to this day, he remains very neat with his clothes, both formal and even casual attire.
Valdez, meanwhile, was a real “perfectionist,” as Manzano remembered. “When he was going to compete for the Likha Await Pambata, a CCP international song competition, he rented the CCP Little Theater for three days to rehearse George Canseco’s ‘Ngayon.’
“Basil hired Rolando Tinio to teach him how to act onstage. Basil won in that contest, but that was the last time he interpreted a song for a competition.”
Manzano also worked as a writer for Ariel Ureta’s show, “After Six” on RPN 9 in Broadcast City. “I earned P50 per skit and I was asked to write two scripts a day, so I had P100 daily,” he smilingly bragged.
“I lived in United Paranaque Subdivision 1 near FTI (Food Terminal, Incorporated) and I worked all the way in Quezon City. The house was very near the terminal of Manila Transit. So on the way home, I would simply sleep on the bus.”
The acting break came while Manzano was writing scripts. “I submitted a script and then the lead star didn’t arrive,” he recalled. “At that time, I was juggling my time between work and school. One guy shouted, ‘The one who knows the script is Edu!’ So, they gave me an acting job.”
He also took on an odd job as the head measurer for cargo at the Association of International Shipping Lines. “I would go to Pier to measure cargo, compute it and charge the one who brought the cargo in,” he recalled.
Between work and studies, Manzano maintained an active nightlife with friends. He used to frequent Where Else, a popular night haunt at Hotel Inter-Continental Manila in Makati.
“We would put Tanduay in a cooler and we would bring glasses, so we would go and hang out there (at Where Else) carrying our glasses,” he shared.
In many instances, even in his out of town trips, Manzano already spotted Vilma Santos. “Nobody knew that Vilma and I were already going out. I was still writing and working at that time.”
Manzano is extremely proud about his children. Eldest is Luis Philippe, clearly a chip off the old block who followed in his footsteps as a TV host.
“I sent Luis to school,” Manzano disclosed. “When he graduated, he was already working as a veejay in MYX. No movies yet. Everybody finds his humor wackier than wacky.”
Second is Addie or Amanda Danielle. She graduated from Ateneo de Manila University and started her Masters in Graphic Design at Parsons School of Design in New York.
“One day, you call her up and she and she happens to be in Washington, DC. She’s taking the bus and she can never do that here.”
Enzo or Lorenzo Eduardo graduated from De La Salle University with honors and went to University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) to take up his Masters. “But I guess Enzo didn’t like UCLA too much,” the dad surmised. “Now, he’s also in New York taking up Political Science. He enjoys his freedom.”
Manzano cannot be any happier with both his kids who are in the US. “Both of them live alone. They do their own laundry, they cook, they clean the apartment. My kids’ level of independence is so high. I’m very, very happy for both of them.
“All my kids, I’m very, very proud of them. To see them as successful, that’s the most rewarding for me. I was able to put them to good schools. But I guess a father’s job is never done even now that they’re grown up.”
Manzano’s youngest is Diego, who’s now 14. “He’s a soccer star at Xavier School,” said the dad.
SAN JUAN HOME
In his house in San Juan, Manzano takes care of eight dogs. Aside from a French bulldog, he has three retrievers, two labradors and two aspins.
“I have eight dogs. I can walk them around my neighborhood in San Juan,” he bragged.
“About three years ago, my daughter, Addie, was coming home from our farm in Nasugbu (Batangas). When she passed by Tagaytay, she saw six puppies being sold in a box at P6,000 each.
“She didn’t have money at that time. Naawa siya. When she came home, she told me about the six dogs and she wanted to buy them. When she told me they were being sold at P6,000 each, I told her that’s ridiculous. I told her to offer only P6,000 for all six.”
Addie returned to Tagaytay and bought the dogs. The four died within a week. “I was so busy at that time that after two days, I realized the dogs still had no names. My dogs at home have strong, powerful names, like Singko. (Laughs) So, I told our all-around boy at home, Jericho Villanueva, to give names to the two dogs.”
One dog was named Chewy, not from Chewbacca, but because Chewy is “matakaw at nguya ng nguya,” said Villanueva. The other was named Shawn, because he’s white and dotted with black spots, like a dalmatian, according to Villanueva.
When Manzano’s driver of 33 years needs to take a day off, the actor does not mind taking Grab when he leaves the house. He also takes Grab to the airport every time he needs to go out of town.
“I met my driver at the EDSA Revolution and he saw me sleeping on a mat,” Manzano shared. “I was with the Laurel family. My driver has remained loyal ever since.
“He lives all the way in Paranaque and he’s not stay-in. I live in San Juan. Sometimes, when I worked late, I don’t make him report the next day.
“When I take Grab, the driver always talks to me. Ang problema lang doon, you feel you’re obliged to give a bigger tip. If I’m in San Juan, I’d like to stay in San Juan. I use La La Move a lot to send out things.”
Manzano is proud to be in San Juan, where he has lived for the past 11 years. “I love San Juan. On our street, even the mayor (Guia Gomez) is my neighbor. She often brings food or a cake, to the house.
“Behind me are the Manosas. My house used to belong to his sister. It used to be two stories. When the sister got sick and became really weak, Manosa re-designed the house. He tore down the entire second floor and made it one-storey.”
The Manosas have a 1.1-hectare compound in the area. Every Saturday, Manzano said no one goes out. The family all have dinner together, pot luck.
“There are also the Dizons from Davao. A hundred meters from my house is the back of the Rockwell entrance. I watch movies there and do my grocery.
PROUD SENIOR CITIZEN
He laments how some senior citizens were forced to retire from their jobs by the time they turn 60.
“I have always talked about my senior citizen’s card, which has a lot of benefits I enjoy. A lot of seniors wish they were still working, but they were forced to retire at 60.”
Manzano remembers a few years back when he went to Florence and Milan in Italy. He was with Jericho Rosales, Sarah Geronimo, Jed Madela and Manzano’s manager, June Rufino.
“We were looking for CDs at that time,” Manzano recalled. “I wanted to buy a Led Zeppelin CD. When we went to a music store, there were people in their 80s, white haired, who are still working.
“Here, when you turn 60, parang they put you out to pasture already. No way! Even for them, I’d like to make them employable to give them leverage.”
Manzano acknowledged he has been in the showbiz industry for nearly four decades. He was only 25 when he started acting.
“I’ve had my ups and downs,” Manzano admits. “I had it all.”
His priorities, however, will have to change in case he wins in this coming elections. He needs to leave the showbiz and prioritize a new political career.
“I’ve been in showbiz for 39 years,” said Manzano. “I’m turning 64 this September. I don’t hide my age. I don’t even color my hair. In life, your priorities change. You have to bravely live with that.”