Back in 2003, the tall, awkward but charming Christian Bautista came out as fourth placer in Star in a Million. Fast forward to 2012— today, here, now— the singer, who has come to be one of the country’s legit romantic balladeers, has the reality singing contest to thank.
“I think dun talaga nila ako nakilala,” says Christian, remembering that contestant— “payat na maraming pimples na hindi maayos ang buhok… pero ang ganda ng boses.
"Nagustuhan nila yung kanta, nagustuhan nila yung sincerity. They like my performance pag nasa stage.”
The tenor who sang Josh Groban’s singles always performed with heartfelt passion. This earned him an audience and his legion of fans who, soon after his “unwinning” Star in a Million, were swept off their feet by Christian’s first single, “The Way You Look at Me.”
Since then, life changed for the young graduate of landscape architecture, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
In 2004, Christian released his self-titled debut album which made fans fall in love with love songs, over and over.
“Siguro na-translate sa kanta… talagang yung mga kantang nagsalita sa kanila.
“As a singer, [with] singing as my core, kailangan yung buong puso ko 'andun sa recording, kahit yung katapat ko mikropono lang…”
Be it his sincerity or talent that has captured an audience in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, Christian’s knack for making listeners swoon over ballads is undeniable. After “The Way You Look at Me” became a hit in South East Asia, Christian went on to record more albums— Completely 2005), Just a Love Song… Live! (2006), Completely (2008), Romance Revisited: The Love Songs of Jose Mari Chan (2009), and Outbound (2011).
CHRISTIAN TURNS 10. The past decade has seen Christian evolving with each achievement into a better performer. From his first big break in the 2002 Trumpets musical, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Christian has gone into acting.
His most remarkable appearance on television, so far, is in The Kitchen Musical, a Singapore-produced musical drama series that bagged gold in the best writing category and bronze for best performance at the 55th New York Festival International TV and Film Awards in April.
The pan-Asian smash hit stars Christian and Filipino talents Karylle, Art Acuña, and Thou Reyes with a cast of performers from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Prior to appearing in The Kitchen Musical, Christian was in the Indonesia-produced film, A Special Symphony.
The 30-year-old debonair singer says, “I always look for ways to be relevant.”
Christian makes it a point to do something different in each project that he pursues. His Outbound (2011) album, for instance, exhibits that extra mile he goes for. In the 8-track album, Christian collaborated with Asian musicians such as the Singaporean producer-arranger Tat Tong, Japanese singer Baby M and Indonesian songwriter Satrio.
While his projects outside the country have influenced his craft, Christian is bent on creating music that is even richer, more contemporary, and wrought with Filipino talent.
CREATIVE PASSION. Christian is an active member of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), together with singer/songwriter Ogie Alcasid.
He believes that OPM artists “always have to create something [new].”
Christian shares, “Sabi nga ni Ogie in one of the OPM meetings, singers are classified as second-level citizens in the industry. It’s always given to the actors.
“So kami, we always have to… we fight back, we group ourselves together, kaming mga singers.”
Much of what Christian has been up to for the last 10 years is fighting to keep his career on top.
The struggle, as Christian puts it, is “how to fight for relevance. How to fight for position. How to fight to stay there.”
“Kasi pag nawala na yung apoy na yun, ‘wag na,” he emphasizes. “Kakanta na lang ako, hindi na ako maggaganito-ganito. Pera-pera na lang. Pero gusto ko, e.”
By apoy, or fire, he means “the passion.”
“Dapat willing kang manggulo ng buhay ng mga tao. Parang ‘Hey, hey, hey! I have a new song! Listen to it!’
He adds, “You have to knock on people. So hangga’t meron ka nun, hangga’t mahal mo trabaho mo, gagawin mo. Kasi kung hindi mo mahal, wala…
“In the next ten years, I need to do a significant change again,” Christian states. “I need to create something exciting again.”
At this point, however, Christian has yet to think of a specific project.
“Hindi ko pa alam kung saan ako pupunta in terms of this career, mag-iiba ba ako ng music? Mag-iiba ba ako slightly ng image? Pupunta ba ako sa ibang bansa? Mag-iiba ako ng producer? Mag-iiba ba ako ng manager? Ano bang gagawin ko? Magpo-produce ba ako ng movie?”
Christian has faith in countless possibilities.
One thing is certain now, Christian says. “It has to be something that I love to do, that I like to do para makita dun sa produkto.
“If it’s just something na gagawin ko para lang makakuha ng fans or ng publicity, hindi siya nagla-last, e.
“Kung ano yung nagla-last, yung talagang passion mo, 100 percent. Yun pa rin ang pinagpe-pray ko hanggang ngayon and I hope I find it soon.”
Meanwhile, Christian has reason to celebrate because the last 10 years have been anything but ordinary.