By Bum D. Tenorio, Jr. (The Philippine Star) Updated April 04, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The slow-moving traffic on the SLEX is exactly the opposite of the life on the fast lane that he lives now. Christian Bautista is not complaining. Near midnight, he is on his way to a provincial show in Cabuyao, Laguna. The romantic balladeer is calm in the standstill traffic, and bears the gridlock like it was the most relaxing thing.
When he travels by land, his big van provides almost all the comforts of home. His clothes are hung at the back of his van. A big gym bag rests on the floor, beside at least three pairs of rubber shoes. He reclines his seat and politely requests his driver to turn down the car temperature. He turns on the interior light and digs into a thick book entitled “1421: The Year China Discovered the World” by Gavin Menzies.
“I love to read historical accounts,” Christian says. He devours a book the way he interprets a song – with gusto, with passion.
Perhaps passion is what Christian, 28, is all about. It is the same passion that propels him to give his all, his best as a very talented crooner. His zeal to perform, to sincerely entertain the audience is the reason he’s able to live up to the demands of his life on the fast lane.
“I’m out of the country almost every other month for weeks to promote my new album, ‘Romance Revisited’ in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Hopefully more Asian countries will open their doors soon,” he says. So far, he has recorded five albums. Just recently, he performed at the Pattaya International Music Festival where other big stars from Asia also showcased their talents. With his many appearances in other countries, Christian has been called “Asia’s Pop Idol.”
He adds, “In Indonesia, we are talking to some movie producers for possible projects together in movies and on TV.” In the Philippines, Christian put his acting mettle to the test when he appeared in the movie Mano Po 5 and a teleserye entitled Kampañerang Kuba.
Christian is a household name in Indonesia. Long before he personally appeared on the music scene of Indonesia, the people of this Muslim country had fallen in love with his first phenomenal song, Andrew Fromm and Keith Follese’s “The Way You Look at Me.” This song brought his self-titled album to triple platinum status in 2004.
Warner Music Indonesia pushed him to the fore and, beyond the growing number of Indonesian fans. fans from other Asian countries joined the Christian bandwagon.
“My life now is really fast-paced, exciting, like a roller coaster ride. Very much different from my life before,” Christian admits.
His big break in the music industry happened when he least expected it. Christian had just earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of the Philippines when he decided to take his sweet, sweet time fulfilling his Herculean desire of changing the landscape of the Philippines, one city at a time.
The almost shy guy from Imus, Cavite decided to take up a musical theater class in Trumpets under Sweet Plantado in the summer of 2002. He enjoyed that class so much that he decided to audition for the musical “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” He could sing very well but he couldn’t dance. Despite that, he got a role of an evil Narnian, a totally unrecognizable monster. Thanks to Stage’s David Cosico who brought his talent to the attention of veteran theater actor Audie Gemora, Christian got his first taste of the professional stage. Christian went on to bag plum roles in “Joseph The Dreamer” and “West Side Story.”
One thing led to another and actor/manager Carlo Orosa asked him to join “Star in a Million,” a singing contest on ABS-CBN in 2003. Christian only made it to the semi-finals but that did not deter him from pursuing a career in music. Now, he sings and shines wherever he performs – with the support of Gemora, Cosico and Orosa who co-manage his career.
“What I love about my job now is the fact that I get to travel all over the world doing what I love to do…eating… I mean singing, and then eating,” Christian jokes. He loves to eat but does regularly works out at Gold’s Gym.
He says the most important lessons he and his two younger siblings learned from their parents include “to always pray,” “to always give importance to the family,” “to save the environment” and “work hard and play hard.” Then he adds: “My parents also taught us to keep off the grass – the other kind of grass.” Then he laughs.
Christian comes from a big, closely-knit family. “I have almost 20 cousins. When we were kids we would just play around in our neighborhood, usually on Sunday afternoons. We would go biking, play hide-and-seek, patintero, basketball, football (the local one where it’s actually like bowling then someone kicks the ball), agawan base, shato, etc.”
His happy childhood, he says, is courtesy of his parents who “did their best to provide for our needs.” Christian is very proud that he and his siblings were raised well by their parents. “We love them for that,” he adds.
”I honor my parents and I love them very much. Being the first born, I have to set a good example for my brothers. So, I would always try to be a mediator of sorts or a balance to explain to my brothers what my parents would want us to do or to become,” he explains. Last Christmas, because Christian had a show in Indonesia, he flew his entire family to Jakarta so they could celebrate the season together.
Aside from his parents, Christian honors his commitment with his fans. “I love my fans, the Christian Friends. They have been with me from the start.”
Christian admits that he is in constant communication with his fans – via text, Twitter or e-mail. In fact, while his van is parked at the back of the stage of Cabuyao Town Plaza where he is to perform that night, a group of ladies knock on his window. They had come by public transport from as far away as Pampanga, Bulacan and Manila to see Christian perform in Cabuyao. They even brought pizza for their idol.
Perhaps it is sincerity to his craft and his dealings with the people who truly matter to him that keeps Christian one of the most bankable artists today. In a sea of flash-in-the-pan talents, Christian remains a force to reckon with in the music industry. The more he remains committed to his profession, the more he defines his staying power in the industry.
“I just do what is right,” he says of his personal mantra.
And with all the right things he has been doing – love for his artistry, gratitude to the people who have never left him from the start and gratefulness to God for all his blessings – Christian has risen to become a truly class act.