It’s hard to believe Walter Demesa was once tied to a desk. Hosting the Lifestyle Network’s magazine show Listed with Karen Pamintuan, he’s been all over the place lately. On the show and on his blog, Wally D is an expert at instigating FOMO, from mud carting in Puerto Galera to slurping up oysters in Hokkaido.
How the carefree Canadian got to Manila—and this high-flying, serious-eating, try-anything point—was itself an adventure, as Wally tells B/BLOG. Sprawling out in the sun and sinking his teeth into summer, the former Human Resources drone talks to us about how he became quite the resourceful man without a plan.
Hey, Wally! You’ve been all over the place. Where were you last?
I just came from Huma Island, Palawan—it’s this nice private island. You ride on a seaplane to get there.
Do you get to suggest places to go for the show?
Sometimes we do. I love food—I eat all the time. Thankfully that coincides with the show. There have been a lot of restaurants that I really wanted to try and it just so happens that the team thought of it at the exact same time. Black Sheep, I thought the steak was good. I love Vietnamese food so I was able to try Phat Pho. There are so many food places I’ve been to, I can’t keep track anymore. Also, Japan. Thankfully, we’ve been able to shoot twice over there. Recently, we did a winter shoot in Hokkaido. A lot of sushi, king crab—all fresh because you’re surrounded by the ocean. And I love that I got to experience winter again. I love the cold, I love to snowboard.
‘Cause you’re Canadian! When did you move to Manila?
I moved here three years ago but I lived in Canada for over 20 years. I grew up there, went to school there, everything. I came here completely by accident. I was working in the corporate world in Canada and I was here for a few months on vacation to get reconnected with my family. Then one day, I get a text that said, “Hey, do you want to audition for a show?”
I wasn’t going to take it seriously ‘cause I was still planning on moving to Australia and sit on a desk, work on a computer nine to five. There were over 50 other guys that came in to audition, so my friends and family often say it’s destiny. Doing TV and being a host was never something I aspired to do, ever.
Where do you think your being at ease comes from?
My whole life, I’ve been really spontaneous. Most recently, I read a quote that said, “Do something crazy, do something that defies all logic at least once in your life.” I’ve always been on the edge of my seat, ready for anything that falls on my lap. So two weeks before graduating from university in Canada, one of my best friends calls me and she’s like, “Hey, do you want to move to Korea?” Why not? A month later, we were on a plane to Korea, no plans.
Same thing here. I was working corporate and I was like, “I want to move to Australia.” A month and a half later, I had a visa to work in Australia and a plane ticket to the Philippines to stop by on the way to Australia. Plans changed and I still haven’t set foot in Australia.
Not many people can just pick up and go.
I’ve always been carefree. A lot of my friends have been terrible influences. When they say, “Hey, pack up and let’s head out for the weekend and jump on a bus,” okay! One time, one of my friends calls me and he’s like, “Hey guys, let’s all just pack our bags for the weekend—board shorts and sandos—and let’s all meet at the bus station.” This was in Seoul. So I packed just that, didn’t question it. My friends says, “We’re going to randomly point at that signboard, we’re going to buy a ticket, and go wherever we decide.” So we ended up on the west coast, on a beach in Korea. No accommodations so we broke into a giant white tent on the beach selling salbabida. We slept on that the first night. The second night, we slept in a half-constructed building on plywood and drywall—one each. It was by the ocean, you feel the breeze since there are no windows or doors. It was one of the best experiences ever.
By doing that, though, is it hard to keep a girlfriend?
It is, but I’m not so bad that I’d call you from a random place: “Hey, right now, I’m in Aruba.” Although moving around everywhere and not wanting to stay permanently somewhere, it’s difficult. Even friendships. My friends right now are like, “Don’t leave yet, don’t leave yet.”
Seems like you’re the type of guy who doesn’t like to plan.
In life, I try to plan but it just never seems to work out. Me and my friends did a two-month backpacking trip. Out of those two months, we only booked accommodations for one night and it never worked out. We ended up showing up late, they gave away our room, so never again. From that point on, we arrive in a city and just walk around and look for accommodations.
My friends and I have a group chat on Viber called “Travel 2015.” We’re always updating each other and every two days, I check different sites for any cheap flights. Right now, we have one booked to Australia, so I’ll finally make it there this summer. I’m trying to book a flight to China—the food is a big seller for me.
Well beyond making travel plans, what are your rules for summer?
A lot of it really revolves around having good company and good surroundings. One of my rules is: foster spontaneity. When you think of somewhere you want to go, don’t try to over-plan or think about what the consequences are. Obviously, take into account safety but just pack what you need and head out.
Another one is to eat everything in sight. Being in the Philippines, I’ve really gotten reacquainted with Grandma’s home-cooked Filipino food. All the regions have so many different types of flavor, so I want to try it all.
Any Filipino food discoveries you made recently?
My family’s of Bicolano heritage. There’s something I love in Bicol where people are like, “What is that?” It’s called tinuktok. We’re really, really into spicy food. It’s typically meat that’s been cut into really small pieces and you cook it in gata. Add hot pepper, wrap it in leaves, steam it, and cut it up. In hot weather, I love the flavor of gata in dishes.
Any other summer plans?
Get out of the city and try to get into nature. Bring a camera along and make sure you capture everything. In our day and age, if it doesn’t end up on social media, it never happened.