Emmanuel Damian, a young and perspective man behind The Tennis Foodie, proudly claims that he is a tennis player who loves to travel and eat. That is exactly why we can freely say that his blog is a perfect mixture of his three biggest passions – tennis, travel, and food. This man is a passionate globetrotter who is thrilled to find hidden gems and explore popular gastronomic spots wherever he goes, and you know what?
The Tennis Foodie has won a large number of awards so far, some of which are the 5th place at the list of Top 15 Philippines Male Bloggers, the 35th place at the list of Top 100 Tennis Blogs, and the 20th place at the list of Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs. His amazing blog is divided into several sections, such as the travel one with the countries he is about to visit, the tennis one that showcases his upcoming tournaments and exclusive interviews from the tennis world, and the one with his latest food finds and reviews from around the world. Stay tuned to hear more about who Emmanuel Damian is and why he do what he does!
First things first, can you tell us, when did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis maybe around 12 years old. Pretty late since I’m not really sporty growing up. I’m more of a shy book lover and theatre savvy child. I’m very active in extra curricular activities in school. I think I really excelled in school that’s why I love studying. I re-ignited my passion for tennis last 2012. I started training till 2014 then I slowly joined tournaments in different tennis clubs and even on the national circuit! I play competitively but I had to cut down on my tournament schedule because of my injuries.
Who is your biggest inspiration and role model when it comes to tennis?
I’m a big Ana Ivanovic fan. I can really relate to her story and I’m really amazed on what she has accomplish in her career. It’s my dream to meet her someday and maybe have a hit with her in the tennis court. I also really admire Roger Federer for his professionalism on and off the court.
What advice would you give to your readers who want to become successful tennis players?
Never give up! Although I had a lot of downs in the tennis court, I always use those challenges to improve my game physically and mentally. Tennis is not just a physical sport, it is also a mental game. It really tests your patience and intellect.
Can you walk us through one of your ordinary days? How does your morning routine kick off?
I’m not really a morning person! I prefer PM shift. I usually wake up and prepare my things first. I’ll do a quick breakfast (sometimes on the go breakfast) then take a shower. I have a day job as Drug Safety Team Manager where I practice my profession. Then during free time, I usually write my blogs. I also manage my own website. If I have more free time, I usually call my parents to check on them and chat with my friends. I also always read! I make sure I read at least 3 articles or 2 chapters of a book in a day.
Do you agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Well, I have to agree. It really sets up the pace of your day. I love eating breads or pastries with orange marmalade or strawberry jam. If I eat fried rice, I usually pair it with scrambled eggs or bacon. I also drink milk or fresh fruit juice along with my meals. I also consume a lot of water to make myself hydrated.
How did you discover your passion for food?
At a young age, I have always loved baking and cooking. I usually take photos and share it to my friends and family. Since I also travel a lot, I make sure I try the local cuisine of each place that I visit. Strictly no fast food or junk foods. I also try to recreate the recipes I discover at home whenever time permits. Lately, I have been doing a lot of food styling projects. It’s really fun and very therapeutic.
What is your favorite Philippine dish?
I would have to say a big YES to “Bistek” which is our local version of beef steak. It is made of thinly sliced marinated beef with heaps of soy sauce, onions and calamansi. I usually eat two to three cups of rice if I have this for viand. Chicken adobo and lechon round up my top three list.
What is your favorite dish in general?
This is a very tricky question. Nothing really in particular since I’m a foodie (I have a lot of favorites! Haha!). I love tomato based dishes. My top five favorite cuisines in order are the following: Italian, Japanese, Indian, Spanish and Korean.
Do you love preparing food on your own, or you prefer eating food someone else prepares for you?
I actually love to prepare my own food. With that practice, I can control the amount of spices depending on my taste. I don’t use any preservatives or MSG in my food. I love adding natural or dried spices instead. I’m a big pepper and basil fan so I usually use those most of the time. On a second thought, I don’t mind eating food prepared by someone especially if they cook great tasting food. I’m very appreciative since they put their heart on their dishes which makes it special.
When did you get the first itch for travel?
This was last 2008 when I traveled for the first time in Australia. I was alone for a month without any family. I was with my co-delegates at World Youth Day in Sydney. It was a fun and amazing experience at such a young age. At 18, I realized that I really love to explore and discover the world one step at a time. I think one reason why I keep on coming back to Australia is that it is where it all started. I recently visited my 26th country and I don’t want to stop there. I have this rule that I need to visit at least 1 country per year. So far, I’m very faithful to that promise.
Can you give advice on traveling on a budget? How to save money without compromising comfort?
I always travel on a budget! I usually get cheap tickets via budget airlines for short haul flights. This is a different case for long haul flights. Using travel apps or sites like Skyscanner really helps in finding the best tickets for my preferred date. I also try to utilize the same airlines so that I can save up on points or miles which I can exchange for free flights. So far I think I have availed at least 5-6 free flights using just my points or miles. I’m not very particular on my seat as long as I can reach my destination. I usually splurge on food and shopping instead. On accommodation, I usually stay with my friends or on a hostel. If I’m generous with myself, I usually book with my preferred partner hotel. Sometimes, we need to reward ourselves a little!
What is your favorite destination you have explored so far?
My most favorite destination would be Melbourne, Australia so far! It’s one of the foodie capitals that’s why I love exploring the area. Sydney would be the second one because of its majestic attractions. Hagatna, Guam is one of my favorite places in the pacific while Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea are both Asian cities I really admire in terms of culture and architecture. In Europe, I fell in love with Brugge, Belgium as well as Stockholm, Sweden. Paris, France has a very memorable place in my heart. This is where I experience tears of joy, heart break and fun at the same time. The moment I stepped in Paris, I immediately went to see Eiffel Tower and I cried. It was three years in the making planning for the trip. I even studied French in Alliance Francaise de Manille (AfM) to be able to converse in local language. J’aime tout ce qui a trait à la France!
What is your least favorite destination and why?
This is a very hard question. Based on my experience, I think it would be UAE since there’s very less nature to see. It is very man made. I did enjoy the museums and other attractions but I think I went on a wrong time. Most of the attractions were closed because of reconstruction.
What advice would you give to travel bloggers who are trying to make a name for themselves?
The best advice that I can give is to do what you really love or something you are passionate about. Don’t compare yourself with other bloggers and begin to leave your original mark. Be the best version of yourself and be a legend at your own right.
How can travel bloggers make sure that their content differs from everyone else’s?
I think it’s all about originality. Always think of topics which are out of the box. Make a twist! Get out of your comfort zone and explore possible odd combinations. Look on what I did. I combined tennis, food and travel. No one attempted to do it making me a trendsetter. Always innovate on ideas and put your best foot forward.
Apart from your own, what is your favorite travel blog at the moment?
I have always been fond of reading Two Monkeys Travel ever since I started traveling. I get very useful tips and hacks. I also really enjoy reading Nomadic Boys and Beautiful Destinations.