Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez were a formidable pair of racers in The Amazing Race Asia (TARA); classed up their partnership in the cable show, The Duke; and pushed each other to do things they normally wouldn’t do in Dare Duo. But these best buds started out as rivals—though not in that “I wanna punch his face” kind of way.
Rovilson muses humorously, “We’ve kind of had a professional rivalry, so to speak, because [Marc] hosts Sports Unlimited, I hosted Game Plan. I was on Studio 23, he was on ABS[-CBN]. I’m now with GMA, he’s [still with] ABS. He has hair, I’m kalbo. He’s Aussie, I’m American. It’s always been a friendly rivalry, and that’s what makes us click.”
Brothers from another mother
“We were actually introduced for the first time in an airport of a foreign country,” Rovilson continues. “I was travelling in Vietnam with my girlfriend at the time, and he was with his girlfriend at the time. We didn’t know each other, but my girlfriend knew him, so we were introduced there. So that was years ago.”
An avid traveller, Rovilson has been known to joke that he lives more out of his suitcase than he does at home, which is currently not too far from Marc’s residence. The two get along so well that, even during the most trying Roadblock on TARA, the last test that eventually lost them the lead—which they had for almost the entire season and the race—there was never any bitterness. And when Rovilson says, “We get along despite …” you kind of know what he means.
Wrestling with bigger issues
“Another big thing that’s very near and dear to my heart is Marc and I are the brand ambassadors for WWF,” Rovilson states, but quickly adds, “Not wrestling ha!”
In 2010, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) rang them up. “I remember that phone call very, very vividly like it was yesterday. Marc and I were on a bus in Cambodia,” Rovilson recalls. “I was so ecstatic siyempre but the bus was filled with people so ...” he laughs. “[A]s ambassadors we have a lot on our plate. Basically we represent WWF Philippines and we promote as much as possible the gospel of what WWF is all about—the climate change and conservation. One of the more favorite things that we like to do is the educational environmental programs, where we go to schools and we teach kids about conservation and how to recycle.”
Aside from their careers, WWF has indeed been keeping Marc and Rovilson busy. One of the WWF activities Rovilson is proud of is Earth Hour. The Philippines has, in fact, made its mark with the most number of participants—cities, establishments and individuals altogether—four years in a row now.
“This is already our second year as ambassadors for WWF Philippines, and much like we have in previous years, we’re going to be going around to schools, educating people, educating kids, and also trying to just raise the awareness for what WWF does, not only for wildlife but also for communities,” Marc adds.
Apparently, aside from going to elementary schools, and doing awareness activities with the kids, they also take some part in talking to corporate sponsors. “But WWF has said that they want us to have more experience with the project sites this year,” Marc says. This includes a trip to check out the Palawan Underground River and Tubbataha. “It won’t just be a fun dive, we’ll also be doing research on … marine life,” he shares. “It’s actual work, but at the same time, if you’re a diver, oh my God, it’s a dream trip.”
Marc explains, “It’s best for us as ambassadors to visit the project sites so that we know what to talk about and we [know] exactly where people’s donations go.” Like the environmentally-aware pair, there are a lot of volunteers for the WWF who also donate and join trips to check out project sites. It’s one of the few things Rovilson welcomes when he sees his credit card bill. “We signed up for this program where they take a certain amount of money from our credit every month … I buy stupid stuff from my credit card so at least I have something good on my bill,” he says, laughing.
Marc sets some notions straight about walking the talk. “People think, to be environmentally friendly means it’s not good for the people. Yes, it’s gonna cramp our lifestyle, or it’s going to cost the community money to be eco-friendly or whatever. But WWF is there to show and prove that it’s actually the opposite. [T]aking care of the environment … can actually be a boost for the community.” He goes on to talk about how Donsol became an eco-tourism destination, providing fishermen additional livelihood as whale shark interaction officers.
Healthy and wise
Marc, whose bared torso is capable of silencing chattering females on any beach, has been successful in leveraging his looks as a successful model-host. Despite his lean body type, Marc admits to having a problem being skinny. “Oh my God! Skinny!” he adds, for emphasis. “I was a stick figure.” So what turned things around for him? “I just became conscious of my health and it was decision to really say, ‘Okay I wanna stay in shape.’ So what’s it gonna take to do that?”
A neighborhood gym, as it happens. He continues, “I started exercising ’cause I [had] time on my hands. That’s what kick started it. And I happened to be [living] near a gym at the time. And I just started showbiz and I [was] doing a show that required me to work twice a week. … So I said, well this is the opportunity that I always wanted to be able to get in shape. … I also started learning more [about] what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat and so on. And I just kinda kept going from there and it became an interest and when you see the results, obviously you pay closer attention and continue.”
And the pieces of his puzzle fit perfectly. Even Marc’s long-running TV show, Sports Unlimited—now on its 15th year—complements his lifestyle choices. While he says at the moment he hits the gym at a conservative rate of twice a week, the show remains “a nice cross-training for me; just being active doing whatever we’re doing for it.”
As the host of Ang Pinaka…, Rovilson doesn’t shy away from a good workout—the more punishing, the better, it seems. “I’m really hardcore into it now, I do cross-fit, running, of course—I’ve embraced running. I’m a running pimp, and when I say pimp, it’s because I push that sport to other people. ... I mix it with mountain biking, I play some basketball—just variety, spice of life. Just do different things, you hang with different sets of friends, you work with different body parts, different movements …”
Both men are the very picture of health and fitness on any given day, but this duo keeps their goals rooted in a realistic desire to elevate their quality of life.
Read more of Marc and Rovilson’s tips for living life with passion in the June issue of HealthToday, out now in bookstores and newsstands.