On a lucky streak

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - When Luis Manzano was given a “birthday” presscon (he turned 32 on April 21) last week, the Kapamilya host-actor joked, “In my 10 years in the industry, this is my first birthday presscon. It means from talent, I’m now a starlet.”

That is, of course, putting it humbly. Luis might have joined the entertainment biz better known as Lucky, the showbiz heir, son to Gov. Vilma Santos and Edu Manzano. But a decade after, he has managed to step out of his famous parents’ shadow and has clearly become his own person.

It’s no empty claim when you say Luis’ career is just getting better and better, especially if you go by his everyday presence on TV thanks to the programs he’s juggling all throughout the week: Minute To Win It, Pilipinas Got Talent and Deal or No Deal.

Luis looked back: “I started out as a simple VJ, introducing music videos (on MYX). I’m very thankful, it was a long and growing process.”

Asked how he rewarded himself for his latest milestones, he said that he decided to forego his plan (well-deserved, by the way) to gift himself with something grand.

“I’d rather reinvest it in something else. I initially wanted to buy myself something, but I thought I’d rather put it in a business so that in the next two years, I can buy something grander,” said Luis, who considers “my biggest achievement is my house.”  

If he’s earning now from his job, his business will be his source of income once he retires. Presently, he has a manufacturing and taxi business.

Back to the subject of his career, he was asked why he’s doing more hosting than acting these days.

“I don’t want Piolo Pascual, Coco Martin or John Lloyd Cruz to lose their jobs,” he deadpanned.

 Then turning serious (a bit!), he said, “Obviously, I’m a better host than an actor. Obviously, my looks don’t fit the leading-man mold. I’ve long accepted that I’m not leading-man material. Ang haba nga ng mukha ko! I’m not a Piolo, Coco or Lloydie, na gwapo with undeniable talent. Ako yung mahaba ang mukha na makulit. I’m not saying I’m funny. But it just so happens, that say, four out of 10 ng mga hirit ko pwede nang pumasa na nakakatawa, and that happens more when I host.”

And when it comes to hosting, Luis is being tagged as the best of his generation. Younger ones like Robi Domingo make no secret about their admiration for him. For Luis, his biggest hosting idol is and will always be his father, Edu, who made a heartwarming appearance as guest player on Deal or No Deal last Saturday night.

“The way the younger (ones) look up to me, that’s how I look up to Daddy. Even up to now, I think of how he attacks game shows.

“When we do corporate shows together, I get awestruck just watching him do his thing.”

“Looking back, I don’t think he has ever given me advice. Deep inside, I know he’s observing. He wants me to grow and learn it on my own, which is the best way to do it.”

“I will forever look up to him. There will never be any ‘next Edu Manzano.’ I can only aspire to be like him.”

Also last week being his birthday week, other people close to his heart showed up in his shows.

In Minute To Win It, surprise guests included his non-showbiz barkada who became contestants. Incidentally, two of his best friends are getting hitched this year.

During the presscon, Luis couldn’t escape the “marriage” question. Marriage rumors have hounded him and girlfriend of more than a year, Kapuso actress Jennylyn Mercado.

“I find it amusing that there was an issue before that we’ve already gotten married. Then there was another issue that we broke up. Sabi ko nga, bakit hindi nag-usap yung dalawang gumawa ng issue kasi magkabilang dulo — ikinasal na at nagkahiwalay. Mag-usap sila para sa gitna sila magkita,” he quipped.

Nevertheless, Luis admitted that at his age, marriage has crossed his mind and he does want to settle down, raise a family, but with his schedule, it’s hard to tell when.

“Ang hirap nga kaming magkita (ni Jennylyn), paano pa kaya ang magpakasal?” said Luis.

“Honestly, ang sarap nung sabay kayo lumalaki ng anak mo. At the same time, gusto ko rin ibigay yung buhay that my child deserves.

“At this time, yes, maybe, I can provide for my kid, but I’m envisioning a better future for my child. And the only way to do that is to work.”

Luis also pointed out that Jennylyn’s priority is her son, Alex Jazz, and that “I will forever respect that and appreciate that Jazz really is her priority.”

So, “I still have so many things to do. She has so many things to do as an artist (and) more importantly, as a mother.”

Meanwhile, his siblings with father Edu — Addie and Enzo — also appeared on Minute To Win It, while his younger brother with mom Vilma, Ryan Christian, on Pilipinas Got Talent. He became emotional when they guested and was especially touched to see Addie and Enzo, knowing how camera-shy they are.

“I love my siblings very much. It just so happened we (me, Addie and Enzo) didn’t grow up in the same house. Kasama ko all throughout is Ryan. Like I’ve said they’re my ‘Kryptonite.’ I will always have a soft spot for my siblings.”

Asked about the possibility of his good-looking siblings entering showbiz, he said, “I don’t think my father will allow (Addie and Enzo). Ryan, I think he’ll be entering politics more than showbiz.”

There was also talk that Luis had planned to toss his hat in the political ring (that he was supposed to run this coming May elections).

He said, “It’s still at the back of my mind. But it’s going to be very unfair if I decide to run right now samantalang ang grabe ng schedule ko. Politics is not a racket. It’s not a business. It’s about people’s livelihood, day-to-day lives, whether may makain sila or may trabaho sila.”

Having seen first-hand the kind of fulfillment his mom, as incumbent Batangas governor, is drawing from public service, he said, “If you’re given the chance to help in a bigger scale, you have to go for it.”

Meanwhile, catch the debut of the kiddie edition of Luis’ weekday game show Minute To Win It today at 11 a.m. “How we play the game is very different. The Philippines is the first to mount a junior version. Yes, I had to make several adjustments as a host. I have to be extra careful in handling the kiddie contestants. We also have a child psychologist on stand-by. The kids are more competitive. Adults are playing for the big money. But the reaction of the kids to the prizes is priceless.”











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