Christian: Up where he belongs

KAPUSO DAY - Butch S. Raquel - The Philippine Star

Asia’s Romantic Balladeer Christian Bautista is doing more than his usual crooning lately. The hitmaker, having signed a three-year exclusive contract with GMA Network last year, enjoys “exploring the different dimensions” of his artistry.

The singer (and now host-actor) is one of the most visible faces on television. He just wrapped up his weekly shoots for the primetime drama Strawberry Lane (which aired its finale last Jan. 2), and live performances for noontime show Sunday All Stars.

“These two shows have been a joy to me,” says the 33-year-old balladeer. “I’m very grateful for them. I get to sing and dance, host and act. I’m enjoying myself immensely.”

The balladeer leaves no stone unturned when it comes to honing his craft. Following his lead role in last year’s morning rom-com With A Smile, Christian accepted a role in the inspirational primetime drama Strawberry Lane. He says that taking acting workshops in his downtime helped sharpen his acting.

“I started on stage so I have more experience in that area,” he reasons, “but I’m doing more on TV now. I believe both acting mediums are great avenues to explore and develop.”

Christian has built an impressive stage resumé, including lead roles in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; Joseph The Dreamer, West Side Story, Rama Hari, Cinderella — and early this year, in Ghost the Musical, for which he earned his first Best Actor in a Musical nomination from the Aliw Awards.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he shares, amazed at his acting nod. Ghost the Musical featured Christian as Sam, the departed protagonist from the hit Hollywood movie of the same title. “I was so happy. It’s almost as if I won already even it’s just a nomination.”

Though blessed with television projects, Christian says he would never abandon theater — more so, if a big opportunity comes along. “I believe if it’s the right role for me, then yes,” Christian says of accepting an international offer.

His close friends (and fellow Sunday All Stars regulars) Rachelle Ann Go and Mark Baustista are currently making waves at London’s prestigious West End. Earlier this year, Rachelle portrayed Gigi van Tranh in the much-talked-about revival of Miss Saigon, while Mark plays late president Ferdinand Marcos in the staging of Here Lies Love.

Christian’s talent is reason enough to rev up an international career. With gusto, he volunteers: “If there is an audition for Moulin Rouge, I’d go for it.”

His early days as a children’s choir protégée have primed him for the stardom of today. His newly-released album Soundtrack — his first in two years — is another accomplishment in his burgeoning career.

“I’m very proud of this new album,” he starts. The album recently reached the top spot in record store charts. “I’m glad that it became No. 1 in its first week.”

The album — a nod to the romantic wave — features well-loved Hollywood theme songs and duets with Rachelle Ann Go, Nikki Gil, Karylle and Julie Ann San Jose. It also includes Up Where We Belong, the theme song for the GMA broadcast of the hit Korean period drama, Empress Ki.

Christian is undeniably on a roll. Also last October, Indonesia’s MNCTV Network (a private TV station established by the granddaughter of former Indonesian president Suharto) handpicked the balladeer to be the featured guest performer in the station’s special 23rd anniversary show. He was the only Filipino performer in an array of Asian acts.

He says, “It felt great. I felt like I was representing my country. That makes me proud to sing even more.”

Christian’s popularity in Asia started in 2004, after the release of his hit single, The Way You Look At Me. The song garnered frequent airplay in Indonesian radio stations, propelling him into an Asian icon likewise recognized in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He also starred in a Singaporean musical drama titled The Kitchen Musical, and in an Indonesian full-length feature film called A Special Symphony.

“The Indonesians have always supported me ever since I landed on their shores,” he adds, humbled by the love and support of his international fans. “I love performing for them. I’m amazed that they’re still there for me.”

Christian, a Landscape Architecture graduate from the University of the Philippines, says he is looking to use his architecture know-how sometime soon. “It’s going to happen in the next few months,” he teases.

As for his romantic trappings, Christian simply smiles and says that he requires one simple thing. “Just an honest connection,” he grins. “That’s all it is.”










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