Direction by David A Rendon, Photgraphy by Natalia Aguilera, Art & styling by Alejandro Castillo. Grooming by Emilio Uribe, Photo location: Patch of Heaven Sanctuary
Roberto José Manrique Miranda, is the son of Xavier and Clemencia, a cardiologist and a consecrated educator. He was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and is the youngest of five siblings. Today Roberto is recognized as an actor in international productions. Still, this talented actor, communicator, and activist has much more to tell us about his history and the legacy he wants to leave in his time on Earth.
Since he was a child, Roberto Manrique remembers a unique quality: he could feel empathy, love, and curiosity for adventure for the natural world, animals, and the environment. Nature called his attention with their beauty, majesty, and importance. From a very young age, he discovered that he had a different perspective on the world in which he lived.
But his path did not start as the green activist and defender he is today. Manrique graduated from Social Communication in Guayaquil; only a few years later, during a trip to Peru, and thanks to being invited to be part of an acting workshop, he returned to Ecuador to study acting.
Fate and his career took him to Colombia, where his acting career began to grow enormously and reached the renowned Telemundo production “Sin senos sí hay paraíso,” for which millions of people recognize him today. He worked with incredible and recognized talents such as Carmen Villalobos, Catherine Siachoque, and Majida Issa. But his character as Santiago Sanín and the great recognition that it brought him also gave Roberto the strength to finish this stage of his life, to undertake a very different path from that of a soap opera star. This path would rediscover him with that child who was excited to travel to his grandfather’s farm to ride a horse. He would rediscover him with that child who felt the emotion of knowing that he and his family were part of a foundation (Fundación Natura) that helped the environment. And how not mention that, in addition to these factors in Roberto’s life, his relationship with his brother Gustavo Manrique is present in a unique way. Today, he is an environmental activist who leads one of the most critical greenevents globally and the most important in the region, “Latin America Green Awards.”
The day we present this edition of Imagen Miami, we also celebrate Earth Day internationally. That is why Roberto not only gets naked and talks in this interview about his most intimate thoughts and beliefs but also dares to undress his body to attract the attention of the world and share with him that call he received at some point. The call to return to the origin, undress and recognize ourselves as one with the Earth, respect it, and speak out about the change we must make if we want to continue living in it.
DAR- What does the Earth mean to you?
RM- “The Earth is the manifestation of the energy of the universe, which for me is essentially the energy of love. It is a mathematical improbability to the point that, although I am not religious, it can lead me to evoke the concept of a miracle; it is the spirit in ways that human beings are not yet capable of perceiving”.
DAR- In what did Roberto Manrique believe spiritually?
RM- “I believe that everything is a spirit and love, that to the extent that the human being connects with it, that is what it manifests. And I’m not saying it from the naivety of someone who claims that this connection is easy, no. We live in a world full of pain, diseases, wars, and what seems to be evil. It is very complex to transcend that reality and perceive the love that hides behind that veil. There is a universe waiting for our Awakening to a reality in which we are enough, divine energy, and an eternal brotherhood of souls who know and love each other in dimensions much greater than this”.
DAR- Why is it essential that those who are reading us rethink their relationship with The Earth?
RM- “First, we must rethink our relationship with ourselves because we tend to live outside: searching, wanting, achieving, moving forward, even stepping on, winning, overcoming. When in reality, here and now, there is a whole universe that we are losing, what happens when we stop looking out there and decide: be quiet, hug, perceive, feel, accept, let go, laugh, cry, be real.” Transforming that relationship with ourselves will lead us to a better relationship with Mother Earth. But the reverse path is also possible, connecting with our Mother, feeling her, hugging her, listening to her; eventually, it will lead us to our heartbeat and, therefore, to balance.
Whichever path we choose, a more conscious relationship with ourselves, others, and the Earth is the only way to construct a more equitable, sustainable reality on this planet.
DAR- Having a close relationship with the Earth makes many of us think about sacrifices, change to a vegetarian diet, worry about recycling, etc… How do you merge this into your lifestyle and make sure that it does not become a sacrifice?
RM- “The frequent idea that what I can do is not enough or that what I have to do is too much for me tends to generate inaction. Fortunately, we do not need 7 or 8 billion perfect environmentalists. We need billions of imperfect environmentalists who give their best or give what they can and gradually improve. Starting with the fact that if you give more than you really can, you will not sustain it over time, the keyword here is sustainability.
For example, I am not a vegetarian, but I have lowered my meat consumption to levels that previously seemed impossible to me. I have a north, but I accept my process with love and patience, celebrating my progress with my eyes on the point I want to reach”.
DAR- In what ways do you think human beings hurt the Earth the most?
RM- “I think that the most brutal way to hurt the Earth is when we hurt each other, and I think it’s also the most frequent way.
Of course, the animal meat industry is terrible and painful, and there are thousands of other prominent examples. Still, I believe that violence in our day-to-day lives between humans is so ingrained that we essentially do not notice it. Starting with our conversations with our own body, that is never how we want it: well, that body is the Earth. If I don’t start out loving this piece of land that I had to inhabit, how will I love something outside of it? Or what we think and say about the other, the different one, the one who does not think like me. We are all the Earth, no matter how far removed I am from my concept of what is right or wrong”.
DAR- What can we do to change this?
RM- “See each other honestly. Make silence so that our inner voice speaks and not the bell of our cell phone. Embrace this moment and allow ourselves to breathe, deep and slow. Commit ourselves, want the change, but act for it. Do not stay with the idea, the desire, or the dream, leave this magazine on the table and go out and get your hands dirty, risk making mistakes and being criticized”.
DAR- What is your purpose and goal with this movement?
RM- “My goal is to induce the Awakening, that the desire to do more: to move fibers and hearts so that more humans make their journey and wonder if they are giving their 100%. I want people to discover that sustainability and loving the Earth has much more to do with embracing the other, with questioning borders, with recognizing that everything is a system, with stop postponing, with challenging the market, with recycling, or even with sowing”.
DAR- Tell us the story of how you ended up with a debt of more than 33,000 trees …
RM- “In 2019, I wanted to feel that I was giving my 100% for the planet, and I decided to travel from the middle of the world, Quito, to Santiago de Chile, alone and without money, exchanging house, food, and transportation for the promise of planting trees. They were 28 wonderful, challenging, inspiring, complex, and surreal days to cross 6,987 km with the purpose of awakening environmental awareness.
I have noticed that it is good to clarify that I traveled without money. It was not “without spending,” that is to say, I gave my wallet to my mom before leaving, and I kept my passport. And when I say alone, I was really alone, not “with a production team” that accompanied me.
I visited indigenous communities such as the Cañaris in Ecuador, the Quechuas, and Matzigenkas in Peru or the Mapuches or Diaguita in Chile in search of their ancestral wisdom to inspire us to a more harmonious relationship with the Earth”.
DAR- During this trip through South America, what is the most beautiful experience you remember?
RM- “It is difficult to answer because they were lots of beautiful experiences, but without a doubt, what stands out was when I came to be in front of the incredible Lake Titicaca.
The excitement began when I was planning the trip, and I found out that part of the lake was in Peru and that, therefore, there was a possibility that I would see it. And there it was, I saw it, and the feeling was difficult to describe: a combination of awe and deep gratitude for the privilege of living all that I had lived to get there. I felt the empowerment of seeing myself strong, capable of accomplishing an achievement like that, and likewise, the feeling of being so small in my humanity before the immensity of nature and the universe”.
DAR- What was the most challenging moment?
RM- “Seeing a seriously injured dog and not having money to help him immediately. The helplessness and frustration were enormous, and although I am not going to spoil what happens in the series, I only say that it is incredible what one can achieve with trees as a currency of payment and determination”.
DAR- This month, you presented from the Botanical Garden of Quito: Juntos X La Tierra (Together 4 the Earth) to remedy this debt. What is it about?
RM- “My tree debt increased to planting 33,494 trees, and the original plan, which was to plant them in an extensive reforestation in Chile upon arrival, could not be materialized due to the manifestations that occurred at the same time. So during 2020, I designed a plan to pay my debt, which is the campaign I released at the event you just mentioned.
I have created a web series called “JuntosXlaTierra: Revelaciones del Camino” that summarizes the most significant learnings of the journey. You can watch it completely free of charge at www.juntosxlatierra.com. All you have to do is register and share your stories, and thanks to an alliance with a recycling company in Ecuador, they will plant a tree in your name, and one will be discounted from my list. Yes, that is how easy it is to plant a tree and to watch the series. That is not all; you are also automatically competing for all-inclusive cruises to the Galapagos and accommodation in luxury hotels in different parts of Ecuador. We have 12 international tickets to take the winners from their respective countries on the continent. And we have the invaluable support of the United Nations Development Program, which is not only great support but has pushed us to go beyond what we originally dreamed of”.
DAR- Why is it important for parents to instill love and respect for The Earth in their children?
RM- “It is important because love and respect together are the base of the world that they are going to build for themselves, that simple and powerful. If values of competence and aggressiveness are instilled in them, this will be the world that they will materialize. If we show them the beauty of creating from the love to the Earth, to the other, to the life itself, we will begin to see the change that until now we have only been able to dream”.
DAR- During the release, you talked about how the pandemic and other socio-political problems did not allow you to develop the first campaign. What message can you give people about the pandemic and the importance of focusing on caring about the Earth to avoid more of these social problems?
RM- “I think all the pain we have experienced during this pandemic also brought with it many gifts that have to do with an awakening of consciousness about many aspects of life. And it seems that one of the most obvious has been the fact that it is now undeniable how everything is connected, no matter how far apart we are. Being aware of that connection is the seed of a deep transformation because once you assimilate it, it is impossible to return to the irresponsible act of when we were ignorant”.
DAR- Roberto, on this cover, you allowed us to see you in a way like never before. What was your experience doing this feature?
RM- ” It was the experience of total surrender, something that has characterized JuntosXLaTierra in all aspects from the beginning, so when we decided on it, it felt like something very coherent with what we had experienced so far. It represents the return to the origin, to that essence of life that recognizes everything left over, what ties and weighs, what accumulates and contaminates. This nudity is the manifestation of the simplicity of connecting with who we are when we recognize our more human and fewer mercantile needs and embrace that boy and girl who was capable of being, as he is, in the present, period”.
DAR- Behind the nude of this cover, there is a critical sustainability concept about your body, food, and balance. I would like you to tell us about this and how you did not prepare in the same way you have done before for some photos.
RM- This year, I decided that I would not go through an extreme physical transformation process as I always do when something from my work requires showing the body. While working on everything a decision like that requires, such as transforming my relationship with food, the opportunity for this cover came up. My ego immediately wanted to convince me this should be the exception, that I should do an equal and intense process as always, be left with a cover body, and then continue “with that balance thing.”
But no, I plucked up the courage. I contacted José Fernández, with whom I usually guide my processes in terms of nutrition. I proposed to him to do something different, without much expectation of the result; we would focus on the experience this time. Of note, I had had COVID-19 a few weeks ago, so I was gaining weight; therefore, a decision like that was a risky decision. Finally, in meditation, I understood why it could not be otherwise. A process like that (balanced, loving, healthy, with which I could continue after the photos) was the only process that would give me a sustainable body, and that it was the only body that an edition with content like this should have. The truth is I am happy with the result, and although I could have had more muscle definition in the photos, my body is beautiful, perfect, healthy, and sustainable just as it is.
DAR- Roberto, to say goodbye, how can people support you? How can they do more for our planet?
RM- “The best thing you can do for our planet is to question yourself, to see each other honestly, to know if you are giving your maximum to build a harmonious, balanced, and loving world. Audit your conversations, outwards but also inwards, the ones that only you listen to. And once in that space of honesty, the path of change will simply reveal itself.
Oh! And go to www.juntosxlatierra.com and plant your tree with just a few clicks!!!”