Unlike the other local kids who started surfing before puberty was even heard of, Manuel Melindo was one of the batang 90s that only got the chance to surf in his hometown after graduating high school in the tumult of Metro Manila. An avid collector of magazines back in the day, it was through the glossies that he discovered about Siargao’s rising surf culture. Fresh out of high school, he whizzed back home to start surfing and never stopped since.
“Pag nandun ka na, sa ganda ng alon, kalimutan mona lahat ng tao.” Surfing the island’s breaks was a commitment he and his buddies took to heart. Before any developments, Manuel and his friends walked winding trails through coconut plantations and grasslands looking for the swells, going as far as borrowing a sail boat to search around the island for surf till nightfall. You can find him starring alongside local bigwigs on “Days of Filth” and having coached Philmar Alipayo who snatched the victory at the West Sumbawa Pro 2016.
The Sexiest Man in Siargao gained his title on social media, when fellow surfer Elaine Abonal created the hashtag that quickly caught on. And with his bearings, it comes as no surprise. Manuel shares his love for the island he calls home but is quick to express concern about the rapid development since the tourism boom of last year.“Tayo lang ang pinakakaiba sa buong mundo. Ayokong mangyari dito ang nangyari sa Bali, madumi at dikit-dikit na mga building. Ang mga tao marunong sana magkontrol sa sariling area. Di basta gawa-gawa ka lang ng building.”
Photos of Manuel Melindo by Ian Francisco