MANILA -- If he is not in front of the cameras, Luis Manzano is most likely under the sea.
Having started his love affair with the ocean and all the beautiful underwater creatures 13 years ago, Manzano says it is a natural progression for a water baby like him.
‘‘For me, it’s beach, beach, beach. Leave me on a boat and everything will be alright between me and my world. Kalmado lahat,’’ says the actor who has always been curious about the world underneath.
His passion for diving is so strong that he never lets a month pass without exploring the waters in Anilao in his home province Batangas, and indulge in underwater photography. Diving is what grounds him, Anilao is his happy place, he admits.
“My free time is spent on diving, if I could adjust my sked, I would for diving. If I have even a bit of a free time in my busy sked, larga na ko sa Batangas to dive. Even during 'The Voice,' after the show, diretso na ko,’’ Manzano exclaims.
His addiction to diving became even more intense and apparent when he began to discover the wonders of underwater photography four years ago.
‘‘Kung addict ka sa diving, mas lalo 'yang mai-intensify when you begin to take pictures and realize it is a most beautiful world down there,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve always been fascinated with macro works. I started with simple settings on my camera. But later, I learned to add drama to my shots, I learned to frame them, may mga eksena na din, the more I was drawn to it.’’
Every dive is a different journey, he says, where he discovers amazing critters and creatures, identified for him by his spotter-friends. “They would call me and tell me when there are new, rare subjects. That gets me all excited to look forward to my next dive. Gagawa at gagawa ako talaga ng paraan para maka dive,’’ he enthuses.
The funny thing, he says, is that on land, he never takes photos. In fact, on his recent trip to New York for "ASAP," not once did he take out his camera to take pictures. It is only underwater that he wields his cam with gusto.
Manzano looks forward to exploring the underwater in Romblon and in Dumaguete, determined to go around the Philippines first before venturing into the waters of Maldives and his other dream dive destinations. “The Philippines is the best diving destination, I can confidently say that. Every spot, every photo has its own story, every scene is unique and breathtaking,’’ he describes.
In fact, at the ongoing Diving Resort Travel Expo Philippines organized by the Department of Tourism, at SM Megamall until Sunday, Manzano has two entries in the photo gallery of 100 best of the best underwater photographs.
The first is “Paddle Flap,” taken at 60 feet under in Secret Bay, Anilao; and the second is titled “DRTmon’’ named so because it is a critter that looks like the famous Pokemon Pikachu. This was taken in Coconuts, also in Anilao.
“I have so many pictures and initially I did not want to put it out there in social media because I was scared that they would be grabbed. But I realized, sayang din because I could do my part in promoting the beauty of our oceans,’’ he shares.
Taking his desire to promote Philippine diving a notch higher, Manzano is also the ambassador of the global underwater photo competition dubbed as the Anilao Underwater Photo Competition’ set on November 23 to 27. The tilt, alsp organized by the Department of Tourism, expects 200 participants from all over the world, including judges Greg Leceour of France and William Tan of Singapore.