Photography by Graham Tait
Every time somebody mentions your name, somebody else seems to ask where you're from. Where are you from, Manny?
My dad is Colombian and my mom is Canadian, and I was born in Peterborough, Ontario, a little town about two hours away from Toronto. I grew up there until I was ten years old, and then we moved to Hong Kong for two years, because my mom worked as a High School teacher, and she applied for a job as primary principal overseas. She got it, and so we moved out of this tiny little town where barely anybody lives to one of the most densely-populated places in the world, which was a crazy change.
Do you consider London home now?
Yeah, I've been here for ten years now, and four on my own. I definitely enjoy it here.
Boardslide Pop Over to Fakie
What was the trip you were just on?
I went to the Basque Country with Levi's, on a camping trip. We were travelling back and forth between France and Spain, in a van, and just setting up tents anywhere we could find, legally and illegally. It was pretty difficult to get a proper sleep and to feel motivated every day but it was definitely a lot of fun. I hadn't been to the Basque Country before and it's a really beautiful place with loads of spots.
I'd have thought Levi's would be picking you up in a limo and putting you in fine hotels.
Haha! We chose to do it this way, that was the whole concept. Justin Biddle and Shaun Witherup were already travelling throughout Spain and France on their motorcycles, and Justin pitched the idea to Levi's to sort out a camping trip, and hire a van. And it worked out. It was a Levi's / Jenkem edit, the Jenkem filmer Alex Raspa came over. So I think the edit's for Jenkem, but with Levi's supporting it.
What was it like filming for Cover Version, knowing that it was going to be quite a big deal?
It was a really sick! It's a really good crew. I've filmed with Kev [Parrott] before, and I'd done stuff with Harry [Lintell], so that made it more comfortable. Everyone, the whole crew, are such great people and it worked out really well. Dan Magee can get a bit much sometimes. I love him one-on-one, but in a crew he can get a bit much! He can get in your head sometimes.
As long as he didn't dictate your trouser choice, right? Were you guys out filming as a crew or was it solo missions? It feels like a pretty crew-heavy video.
Haha! He was surprisingly nice to me about that, but there were times where he just had to say something! It was definitely a mix of both. Not everyone could skate all the time, and Dan and Kev both had their own work going on too. Everyone had their own schedules, either with work or trip-related, so it was pretty crazy how everything came together; it was just so on-and-off for two and a half years.
How long did your ender take, the back lip on the Southbank Centre hubba?
I tried it for the first time in the winter, in 2018. It was really painful. I kept sticking on the hubba and I had to keep waxing it over and over, and eventually it started sliding. I landed on one, but it didn't look like I landed, and I rolled and fell off. It was all wild, I didn't have any control and I just fell right off. Went for it again and got kicked out, so I went back in the summertime, but it was a really hot day and the sun was beating down on the hubba and the wax was getting melted and it wasn't working at all. It was even worse that time! So we waited again, until it got colder, and we went back, but it was getting to the point where I didn't think I was ever going to roll away from it. For the first time I just felt like lying down there and maybe having a cry or something! I was so frustrated, and it's so frustrating because you grip on the floor when you slam, you don't slide or anything. I tweaked my ankle on the try before the make, and I thought I'd really messed it up. I was trying ollies on flat and I could barely pop, so I took a breather for about ten minutes, before I went back up there. I knew it was the last attempt so I had to go for it, and it just ended up working out! It was a complete blackout. Just landed and rolled away.
You took a bit of a beating making that part. You alright?
I just take really bad body slams. Luckily no bad tweaks, nothing with the knees or ankles. Cutting myself open, banging my head, everything else but I've been lucky.
Have you got a favourite UK video?
Lost and Found is an amazing video. I really like all the Blueprint videos. I didn't actually see the full thing until about two years ago! I'd seen the parts on YouTube, but never the full video. It's a great video. UK skateboarding in general is just amazing. It forces you to really think about what you wanna do and how to go about it. The spots are so good and look good. There are so many incredible UK skateboarders right now. The Isle video and Eleventh Hour are incredible videos. Jake [Harris] did an amazing job with Eleventh Hour.
What happened with Fabric?
I definitely feel they have a really good team now, with people from up north who can get together more often. When I skated for Fabric I barely saw anybody; the person I saw the most was Baines. I had a friend from Holland who skated for Fabric and the only times we met up was for trips. We went on some good trips too, we went to Cyprus which was fun. I definitely got along with everyone but over time it seemed like it just wasn't right for me then. I'd been getting into other things, and wanted to see what would happen if I didn't have any board sponsor at all. It was hard though, it was hard having to make the phone call. They've had my back since I moved to London. David from Native is a really good guy and I get along really well with Baines but it was just something that I needed to do and I'm glad I did it.
How did you get on Habitat?
I've been getting boards from Habitat for about three years now. Right after I left Fabric I got hit up by Callum Francis, who worked at Keen at the time, and he told me that they were looking for a Habitat UK rider, somebody to represent them in the UK. I was definitely down, I've always been a big fan of Habitat; the videos are incredible and the team's amazing. Getting boards from Keen lasted around a year and a half, then it got switched over to Rock Solid, and from then on it was more of a direct deal. I still get the boards from Rock Solid but I'm in contact with Brennan Conroy, the team manager in the States. They're backing me and I know a few guys on the team. I met Brian Delatorre in Oakland a few months ago and we got on really well.
FS 50-50 Pop Out
Where is your favourite place in the world to be?
I really like London. It’s home to me. In the winter it can get you pretty down, but fortunately enough I've been able to travel quite a bit with my sponsors, or to have a travel budget to be able to go places. I'm definitely grateful to be able to get out as much as I can.
What's your living situation just now?
I just moved into Charlie [Munro]'s place, I'm living in his living room right now! I've been here for a few days now, My girlfriend and I just broke up. I was in a unhealthy relationship. She's an amazing girl but my head was getting all fucked up and it got to the point where I couldn't even skate. When I was on that Basque Country trip I felt so shit the whole time. It got to the point where I didn't even feel like I was a skateboarder any more. Nothing was working at all and my brain was somewhere else. That was what kind of did it for me. I saw my dad last week, we had a good chat and I opened up about things I hadn't told anyone, and eventually it became a no-brainer, something I had to do. I really want to skate and all the opportunities are there with good support from sponsors. I'm still young so I just want to go for it and focus on that, and see whatever happens.
It's good that you spoke to somebody about it, and that you realised and acknowledged what was happening in the first place.
That's the thing. I was putting her before myself for about three years, and it got to the point where I loved her more than I loved myself. I didn't really talk about it at all, and just kept it to myself, out of respect for her and everything. I spoke to Charlie about it the most, but not even getting to what I needed to say. It sucks and it fuckin' hurts. I love her and she's a great girl so I wish her all the best, but I need take control of my life now.
What's your next trip?
I think I might be going to Berlin in a couple of weeks, for a premiere and to film with Jon Wolf, who lives out there. He's an American guy who's been living in Berlin for, I think, ten years now. I met him on the first Levi's trip I went on, when we went to Napoli and we go along really well. And Berlin is an amazing place to skate anyway; it's got loads of spots and some of them are pretty much untouched. It's a cool city, it's definitely a party city! After that I might be going to South America with Levi's, in October, but it's not confirmed yet. It'd either be Colombia or Mexico, so I really hope it's Colombia! I'll be going out to SF too, to film for Deluxe, for Thunder and Spitfire. I really want to put out another video part, and just travel around and get bits and pieces, but it's hard to do with just one filmer. I'll need to mix it up with filmers and gather footage. I'm filming for the new Habitat Control Room, for Thrasher. I got some footage in San Francisco and now they want me to get some London footage because I live here.
Obligatory shout outs?
Shout out to mi Papa! Kev and Dan, the Blips crew, all my friends, Thank you U.K. skateboarding for having my back. Thanks for the support New Balance, Levi’s, Habitat, Thunder, Spitfire, Skate Deluxe. Much love to Baines, Mackey, Alan Glass, Nate Alton, Chris and Eric! Thank you Graham and Neil for the interview! You guys rule.
Published in North issue 23