Postcards from the Philippines ft. James Manait

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We carry on a trip around the Philippines via interviews by Isabell Kittel, today featuring James Carlo Manait.

James is a versatile freeride and skater, he was displaced during lockdown on the other side of Luzon island. He was able to travel back to Baler after five months at the end of July. Read here what he experienced!

Introduce yourself: who are you?

“I am James Carlo Manait, 24 years old. I’m a mechanical engineer but now wala pa akong work. Nagstart ako magskating nung 3rd year college, 6 years ago nagustuhan ko siya.”

I am James Carlo Manait, 24 years old. I finished mechanical engineering but am currently looking for work. I started skating back in 3rd year college, about 6 years ago and I really liked it.

What skating do you prefer and why?

Dati more on freeride, kasi yun pa lang yun alam ko that time. Di pa namin alam yung downhill then nung dumating yung kakapanood sa youtube nafamiliarize kami sa downhill saka ayun dun kami natuto magdownhill. sa ngayon more on downhill na din kami.”

I mostly did freeride back then because that’s what I knew. We weren’t that familiar with downhill before but from watching videos on Youtube, we got familiarized with downhill and we learned from there. So now, we do more downhill.

Do you have any downhill skaters that you look up to internationally and locally?

“Patrick Switzer, ang galing niya and also Dandoy Tongco.“

Patrick Switzer, because he’s good. And also Dandy Tongco.

What is your biggest success in skating?

“After grumaduate, nanalo ako sa longest puck down (heelside, coleman slide) also first runner up in free style. Masaya yung pakiramdam kasi sunod-sunod yung blessing kakagraduate ko lang then saka nanalo ako sa competition. Dito sa kampo (Camp Ravina).”

I won a longest puck slide down contest and also first runner up in freestyle after graduating. It was such a great feeling because I’ve just graduated and then I won in the competition. The event was held in Camp Ravina.

What is your biggest fear in skating?

“Nagstop ako ng matagal nung nasa laguna na ako. Naaksidente ako, sinugod ako sa ospital. Then pinagstop ako ng mga tito and tita ko. Nalaglag ako sa bangin, at nakahalf-shell helmet kasi ako nun. So, nagkamali ako may sasakyan sa harap iniwasan ko tapos nalaglag ako sa bangin. Then duguan ako nung time na yun, then sinugod ako sa ospital then pinagstop na ako ng mga tito and tita ko. Siyempre since hinahanap mo yung laro, hahanapin mo din talaga yung skating eh nandun ka na eh. Yung biggest fear ko ay yung may makasalubong na kotse sa turn. “

I stopped for a bit when I was still in Laguna after I got into an accident. I was rushed to the hospital and my aunt and uncle told me to stop skating. I overshot a turn and fell into a ravine because I was trying to evade an oncoming vehicle and I fell. I was only wearing a half-shell helmet so I was bleeding all over and I was rushed to the hospital. But even after the mishap, I still want to go downhill. My biggest fear is incoming traffic that appears all of a sudden.

How did the first two weeks of lockdown feel? What happened to the skating community during that time?

“Akala ko magsastop na siya after one month. Kasi diba naglockdown tayo, ay mahigpit talaga yung lockdown na yun, tas akala ko okay na. Pero yun, kasi that time nasa laguna kasi ako. Nagwoworry ako siyempre, kasi siyempre delikado din naman diba. Eh that time kasi nasa laguna din ako napagdesisyunan din naman na umuwi na lang dito sa baler. Makakapagskate pa ako. Naging part din ako ng skate community sa laguna. Okay din sila kasama, kasi nagstart ako pumunta doon ng wala ako kakilala tapos nag-pm sila, chinat nila ako. Tas inaya nila ako na sumama sa kanila sa laro tas ayun okay.”

I thought it would be over in a month. I thought that the total lockdown would be the last of it, and everything after that would be okay. But yeah, during that time I was in Laguna [South Luzon] and I was really worried. Then we decided to go back here in Baler which meant that I’d also get to skate. I also became a part of the skate community there in Laguna, they’re awesome folks to skate with! I didn’t know a lot of people back then, then they chatted me up and they invited me to one of their sessions which went really well.

What was the first skate get-together like? Who were involved?

“Namiss ko magskate kasi kasama ko nun sila Benhar, sila Botch. Nung unang laro ko, konti pa lang sa Diteki. Pero okay kasi namiss ko talaga yung skating. Then yung mga sumunod napadami na ng padami yung kasama. Every weekend naglalaro na kami since July.”

I really missed skating with my friends (Benhar and Botch). We skated in Diteki, it felt great to be skating again. Then after that a lot of people were skating more and more each weekend.

How are you adjusting to the new normal?

“Sa ngayon, nahihirapan kasi nawawalan ng trabaho karamihan pero since wala din naman magawa inaaccept mo na lang yung fact pero siyempre di mawawalan ng pag-asa na maghanap ulit ng trabaho. Ngayon kasama ko din yung family so meron parang safety net. Sa ngayon naghahanap ako ng trabaho. Kung ano yung connected sa course ko na mechanical engineer.”

Right now, it’s difficult. A lot of people lost their means of living, but we really can’t do anything about it. You have to accept that fact but not lose hope, and find other means or ways. Fortunately I’m with family now so there’s a bit of a safety net. Currently I’m looking for work that’s related to my course which is mechanical engineering.

How would you like the skate community to evolve through this pandemic?

“Sa ngayon kahit lockdown gusto ko pa rin sana magskate kahit weekend. Sana mas dumami pa yung naglalaro, nagstart ako nagskate ng konti kami tas ngayon parami na naman. Mas gusto ko na makilala ulit na meron magandang spot na napaglalaruan dito sa baler na pwede pagskatean na parang sa diteki. At yun din ang aking paboritong pinaglalaruan. Perfect kasi yung mga turns niya. Both speed and turns yung gusto ko.”

I would still want to get to skate every weekend. Hopefully there would be more skaters, because when we first started there were just a few of us. I want Aurora to be known to have a great downhill spot like Diteki, which is also my favourite spot because of its turns and the speed that you get from going downhill.

Any message for your fellow skaters out there?

“Enjoy nila yung paglalaro, wag sila maging competitive. Basta masaya sila dun sa ginagawa nila at enjoy yung pagiiskate.”

For them to enjoy skating and not be overly-competitive. Keep it skating fun and enjoyable.

Thank you James for this awesome interview! Follow his skate adventures on his Instagram @jmscrlmnt

Thanks to Angelo for support during the interview and many thanks to Josh for helping transcribe and translate!