Looking back on his life journey, DJ Loonyo said hard work and prayers helped him fulfill his dream to build a home for his mom.
DJ Loonyo, whose birth name is Rhemuel Lunio, hails from Cagayan de Oro.
Speaking to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), DJ Loonyo described himself as a "probinsyano" on fire with a desire to give his family a better life when he first worked as a professional dancer in Manila.
DJ Loonyo elaborated: "Ang pinaka-back story ko talaga, I just wanna help my family back in the province in Cagayan de Oro.
"Sabi ko, 'Pupunta ako sa Manila to make it happen.
"I wanna buy a house for my family, put up a business for them. Yun talaga ang pinakahugot ko.
"Eight years in the making. Ang dami ko pinagdaanan talaga na bagsak na challenges sa buhay.
"Alam mo yun? Typical probinsyano, wala kang matirahan, so palipat-lipat ka lang ng bahay.
"Wala kang stable na income. Pero sabi ko, 'Tuluy-tuloy lang.'"
DJ Loonyo said he has known what hard life was like since he was a young boy after the death of his father.
His mom had to let go of their old home so she could pay off the debts the family incurred when his father fell ill.
Part of DJ Loonyo's March 29 Facebook post read: "HINDI PO KAMI MAYAMAN, at pinalaki kami ng Butihin at napakabait kong MAMA sa sariling kayod as MIDWIFE.
"Back story: Nung nagkasakit ang papa ko at ngayo’y nasa kamay na ni AMA, nawalan kami ng bahay dahil sa gastos sa pagpapagamot at bayad sa utang.
"From then, nangupahan kami at patuloy na kumayod ang mama ko para lang mapag-aral kami."
This PEP Exclusive interview with DJ Loonyo was conducted during the launch of his first single for Universal Records called "Dance Under The Sun."
DJ LOONYO BECOMES A CHOREOGRAPHER IN MANILA
Refusing to listen to people who discouraged him from making dancing a career, DJ Loonyo stuck to his goals and kept on joining international dance competitions.
He forged ahead, formed the dance group Rock Well in 2016, and started giving dance workshops.
DJ Loonyo narrated to PEP.ph: "Nung nagsimula yung Rock Well, dun na nagsimula yung classes ko, dun ako nakilala bilang choreographer.
"Then dinagdagan ko siya ng pagiging DJ. Since mahal na mahal ko yung music, why not i-offer ko sa tao yung music na pinapakinggan ko?"
His big break came when Rock Well won in a dance competition in Croatia in 2018.
He said it was the first time that Philippines was hailed a world champion in a competition held in a European country.
After his win, DJ Loonyo was invited to conduct dance workshops here and abroad, which paved the way for a good offer from a businessman in China.
He recounted: "Nagustuhan niya kung paano ako mag-inspire sa students ko so dinala niya ako dun sa China.
"Before, nagti-train ako sa teachers dun. And then mas nakilala nila ako, nakilala nila yung puso ko, pinagkatiwala nila sa akin yung business."
DJ LOONYO BECOMES AN INTERNET SENSATION
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, DJ Loonyo made waves on social media because of his Facebook Live sessions about how he coped with the lockdown in China.
He got the notice of netizens because of his relatable dance challenges, more so when YouTube star and Kapamilya actress Ivana Alawi got him to do a collaboration for her vlog in April 2020.
His instant stardom because of his viral dance challenges eventually led to DJ Loonyo's appearances on television.
His life story got featured in GMA-7's drama anthology Magpakailanman in July 2020.
Between September and October 2020, he landed a short stint in the popular "Bawal Judgmental" segment of Eat Bulaga!
DJ LOONYO IN SHOWBIZ
PEP asked: How did he reach his decision to leave China and start over here in the Philippines?
DJ Loonyo answered: "Supposed to be, mag-stay na ako sa China. Ayoko na bumalik sa Philippines.
"Kumbaga, graduate na ako, ang dami ko ginawa as a choreographer. So gusto ko maging stable naman. So dun na ako mag-focus sa business.
"Pero yun nga, dahil hindi natin minsan naiintindihan kung ano ang plano ni God sa buhay natin, hindi niya tayo papatulugin.
"Sabi ko, 'Hindi, parang kailangan ko bumalik sa Philippines. Parang sumisipa yung dugong performer ko.'
"Pero bago ako bumalik, talagang nilista ko muna."
Aside from his TV appearances, DJ Loonyo also ventured into singing and released song-dance tracks such as "Teka Muna" and "Ganda."
Then this year, he signed a contract to become a recording artist for Universal Records.
He was the one who composed his latest single "Dance Under The Sun" and even did the choreagraphy for the music video that Universal Records released last April 10.
While he admitted that singing was not his cup of tea, DJ Loonyo maintained he considered it as another challenge at this point in his career.
He explained: "I need to conquer my fear. Talagang ayaw na ayaw ko kumanta. I really hate my voice.
"Pero sabi ni God sa akin, 'Wala. Kailangan mo kumanta. Kailangan mo mag-grow as an artist. So you need to do those things na hindi mo gusto.
"Which is eto, hindi naman talaga sa di gusto, pero yung proseso lang ng pagkanta.'"
He then reminded himself, "Alright, I need to pay the dues. Kailangan ko magtanim. Kailangan ko mag-aral. Kailangan ko mag-invest."
the long-awaited house of their own
And now, DJ Loonyo, who just turned 26 last April 2, is starting to reap the fruits of his labor.
On his Facebook post last April 29, he showed a picture of his mom standing in front of their newly built house in Cagayan De Oro.
It is a bungalow-style home with lots of plants at the front porch.
For DJ Loonyo, there was no greater joy than to see his mother happy.
His mom retired as a midwife when DJ Loonyo started working in China.
Beaming, DJ Loonyo told PEP.ph: "To cut the story short, kung gaano lang ka-great si God sa buhay ko, oo nga di ako nag-graduate.
"Kasi, supposed to be, three months ga-graduate na ako as Math teacher, pero hindi ko tinuloy because I wanna pursue dancing.
"So hindi man ako naging successful dun, pero dito sa landas na ito—na sinasabi ng tao na wala kang mapupuntahan—ikaw lang talaga makakapag-justify noon, e. Ikaw lang talaga yung nakakakita ng visions mo, e.
"You can't blame other people na hindi mo napuntahan yung gusto mo. Ayoko naman dumating sa point na mag-regret ako.
"So, nag-push nang nag-push talaga. Hanggang sa yung dream ko na mabilhan ng bahay yung family ko, mabigyan ng business yung family ko, dun talaga nagsimula.
"And I believe with great intentions, dun ka ibe-bless ni God. Hindi ka niya papabayaan."
Watch DJ Loonyo's interview on PEP Exclusives: