Our young man in Meralco

When you hear a young man define his role as that of “empowering both media and the public with updates, information, news, and data relevant to Meralco and the power industry, that can benefit or improve, brighten their lives,” you know that this is one man who makes life better for you.

While he may not provide the power himself, he tells you what you need to know and in this world, information is power. He is right, he empowers you.

Marco Manalac is the Media and External Relations Officer of Meralco. (Notice the preponderance of the letter M, as though he were fated to work for a company that starts with M in a job that has to do with the nosy M)

Let’s listen furthermore to Marco talk big (okay, make that proudly) about what they do at Meralco: “Our main goal really is to power the progress of our nation and empower our customers, providing the best service while having consumer welfare at our very heart and core.” Of course, nothing is small about Meralco hence this handsome gentleman talks along with the lines of power no less.

And yet, he could be equally humble and helpful when he goes, “I am also ready and willing to personally assist anybody with any questions or concerns in case the need may arise.” He says it with a smile, of course.

I am lucky to have met this good-looking, charming, smart, and articulate bachelor in our Daily Tribune office in one of the Meralco team’s media rounds, with his boss, Joe Zaldarriaga, pleasantly introducing his staff to everyone.

The two would make for a quintessential patrician pair, as though it were the time of the Lopezes in Meralco, and I mean Don Ining (Eugenio Sr.), but I wake up to the present-day reality of well-dressed, well-spoken millennials who, thankfully, have so much between their ears. (Not just porma, as we once used to say.) Yes, I am tempted to imagine and believe Joe Zaldarriaga is by heart and soul a millennial although he most likely also possesses the virtues (and quirks) of his own generation (Baby Boomers?).

To digress further, “good-looking” these days, thank the stars and the universe, no longer connote “stupid.” Although I should quickly add here that Joe Zaldarriaga, without a doubt, was one smart mestizo kid, or he wouldn’t be where he is today. Now, forgive the stereotypical connection between beauty and vapidness, but didn’t we use to come across such a combination of traits in some people (some only), like actors, athletes and, yes, beauty queens?

I once had a crush on this guy who, when called by the teacher to recite, would just stand up, say nothing, but smile the cutest. I swooned. He passed all his subjects. (I was not one of the teachers.) Oh, unlike athletes, he did not win medals for our school, a newly-minted state university in the north courtesy of the strongmen of, yes, the north including the one who lived in the palace.

Marco graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University where he majored in Communications and minored in Literature. I sent him some questions online and he immediately replied to our questions. (a sign that he is punctual and conscientious. Not a single one was about power, rate increases and brown-outs. Instead, we gave ourselves the chance to know more about our man from Meralco.

Marco, by the way, joins the Daily Tribune list of the Most Promising Young Men and Women of the Decade 2021-2030.

Daily Tribune (DT): Why did you choose to work for MERALCO? Was it for prestige or did you look for job stability?

Marco Manalac (MM): I wanted to be a part of the Meralco family because of its very important and crucial role in energizing our nation and powering our economy. It is a company that literally and figuratively brings light to consumers, so I wanted to be a part of that in my own personal way, whatever my role may be. I believe that the company provides a great and essential, basic and valuable service, as power and electricity are needed for any individual, group, city, province, country to move forward and, actually, to survive.

Comic book creator

DT: Do you still find the time to write despite being busy in your work with Meralco?

MM: Up to now, I still write on the side, on top of the writing I do for my full-time job, of course. I create my own indie comic books. I was a columnist in a daily for three years, focusing on comic books and pop culture. Currently, I am a columnist for an international Spider-Man website called “Crawlspace” and I am also a columnist for The POST, a new and exciting online news platform for the youth.

DT: How was college life?

MM: College life was exciting. During my time in Ateneo, I was blessed and honored to be given the cum laude recognition, but I think it was really more of a balance between my focus on grades, friends, public service and skills acquisition.

DT: Are you a millennial? How would you describe your generation?

MM: I think I technically fall under the millennial range, though I don’t know if I fit the role. But if I were to describe my generation, it would really be “passionate.” I think our generation can be very passionate about even the smallest of things, but we also stand up and shout when it comes to the more serious issues and topics. Social media also helps our generation to be heard.

DT: What are your greatest assets as a person?

MM: My greatest asset is probably… my patience and understanding? But maybe that is not for me to say or self-proclaim ha ha ha.

Improved critical thinking

DT: What was your biggest concern before the pandemic? What were you aiming for?

Before the pandemic, the biggest priority of mine was really how to contribute to and help the country, whether it be in my full-time job, or with my personal life. I was just aiming to give my best to both worlds. And then the pandemic hit. And everybody’s main goal was really just to survive.

DT: Did the pandemic change your career direction and your career goals?

MM: My mission in life remained the same – to contribute and help the country, whether it be in my full-time job or with my personal life. The pandemic may have created “distance” but that was easily overcome by technology, innovation, creativity and just sheer resilience.

DT: What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic? What new skills did you acquire?

MM: I was never very good at video games. But I think my midnight “me-time” playing all sorts of games improved my critical thinking and hand and eye coordination, and boosted my creativity.

DT: What are your priorities now more than a year after the first lockdown?

MM: The pandemic made me value my health and the health of my loved ones more. I think that should be the priority for everybody right now.

Theater experience as a defining moment

DT: What do you think should be the concern of people of your age?

Right now, it’s finding your place in the world and seeing where you fit. Discovering how to do the most good that you can do. How to touch lives.

DT: What past experiences define you to this day as a person and as a professional?

I think my time doing theatre when I was the lead for Equus for Repertory Philippines, was a defining moment in the sense that I was able to do something that I never thought I would do… ever. But I hope my stint as an actor was able to positively impact the lives of those who watched (us).

DT: Of your many accomplishments in school, what are you proudest of?

Without a doubt, it is the cum laude honors I got from ADMU. This was a testament to all the hard work I put in.

DT: What have been the highlights of your professional life that you are proudest of and that had made a difference in your approach to life?

MM: I would have to say it was that time, around ten years ago, when I did around a year or so of acting in theatre, modeling, hosting, engaging in the performing arts, and other such creative activities. Doing entertainment changed my perspective of the world and gave me the energy and power to step up and do even more in life. I think it opened the doors to my becoming more confident in my ability to do some good in the world.

Modern day super hero and princess

DT: Tell us about your family life.

MM: My family is very close, religious, supportive and loving. We miss our brother dearly since he has been working abroad for the past few years. My brother is my best friend. It has been tough not having him around. My parents are my heroes, my foundation, my main motivation in life.

DT: What is your ideal woman? Who do you want to marry?

MM: I’m currently in a relationship with a perfect girl, my ideal woman, a true modern-day superhero and princess, the beautiful and sweet Ber Reyes.

DT: What kind of children would you like to raise?

They should have respect. The most important thing to me as a kid all the way to today. Respect.

DT: What are your greatest challenges?

MM: I don’t really see them as challenges. Any trials or difficulties in life are more like opportunities, mainly because I am so lucky to be blessed with a lovely family, awesome friends, a wonderful girlfriend, and a strong support system.

This is the way

DT: What would you like to change in this world?

MM: Too much to mention. But offhand, both for the Philippines AND the rest of the world… perhaps… The toxicity and the ego. The violence. The greed. The abuse.

DT: What is your advice to young people regarding the career they should pursue?

Early on, pursue your passion and go all-out. From there, you will learn what path is truly best for you. But at the end of the day, further down the line… you can always balance your full-time job with your passions. As Star Wars fans would say… “This is the Way.”

DT: How hopeful are you?

: Very hopeful. As a Catholic, we value love/charity, faith and hope. And i know love is above all… but hope has always been my favorite. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel… no matter how dark that tunnel may be.

DT: Where do you see yourself most effectively contributing to society?

Right now, it is through the power of communication, PR… maybe down the line, I will pursue teaching.

DT: What is the leadership role you would like to occupy and how do you intend to bring change to society in that capacity?

MM: Whether it is a leadership role in my company, or being a thought-leader as an influencer or columnist, I do have all these goals in mind. But right now, in order to achieve that ultimate goal of leadership, i continue to serve God, people and country.

DT: What do you pray for?

MM: Right now, it’s for the welfare, health and safety of Filipinos.

Making myself more useful

DT: Where do you see your self 10 years from now?

MM: Not really sure, but hopefully I can already start trying out more personal ventures or businesses. Actually, right before the pandemic, my friends and I were about to start something new and exciting. I was joining in as a passion project, something new and different for me to do on top of my normal job. But the pandemic delayed our plans… but we still look forward to pushing through with it soon.

DT: How do you intend to make the next 10 years worthwile for yourself and for society?

: For me, it is really building character, making myself more useful to society. As mentioned earlier, I hope I can already try out more personal business ventures that I think can take the Philippines to the next level.

DT: What would you introduce in Meralco if you had your way?

MM: More technology. More innovation. Which we already have and which we’re already doing.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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