Out and about

Ella Rivera - The Philippine Star
Out and about
Actor and singer-songwriter Nar Cabico took a chance on his dream, fully aware of the challenges of having the odds stacked against him.
Photo by JL JAVIER

Nar Cabico discusses his life story and the importance of being who you are and owning it.

As a culture forever charmed by the promise of a better tomorrow, we’ve grown quite accustomed to rags-to-riches stories. Most of our popular teleseryes, movies and life features on television have long crafted stories of struggling individuals who have flourished. We love them, we question them, and we root for them. These stories usually echo the same sentiment: You too can make it. As long as you work hard, right?

Well, the trajectory is never as easy as that. Adversities will always follow — and in many different forms, since there is no standard blueprint for the marginalized. As for the 28-year-old actor, singer and songwriter Nar Cabico, whose early memories are that of fleeing his childhood home in Basilan from war, the road to success is indeed long and winding. Having moved to Manila at age 11 to pursue the arts, he is no stranger to the challenges that come with having the odds stacked against from the start.

As an openly gay man, what kept him going was the love for his craft and the grit to represent his voice. He took on any opportunity that kept him afloat — from gigs at random bars in Malate (“Pumayag ako sa P100 a night”), to being a lounge singer abroad (“Tumira ako sa hotel!”), he’s come a long way from the struggling artist who once stole a chocolate bar out of hunger (“Sabi ko talaga, hindi na mauulit ‘to.”).

Eventually, he found his footing when he landed a role in the musical Zsazsa Zaturnnah, and duly honed his skills in theater. Nar recounts, “Theater gave me the spirit of camaraderie. You really can’t do it alone. ‘Yun ‘yung naturo sa akin — how a community can push us individually and earn our seats in whatever industry you choose. Yung discipline and professionalism and the constant reminder that this, what we’re doing, is more about what you are.”

The sense of community is certainly important for LGBTQIA+ individuals, as not all members of the community have found acceptance in their homes. Nar does not shy away from sharing his story, as he knows the importance of representation. He proclaims, “For an artist na proudly out, wala akong tinatago. Alam nilang may asawa ako. If this does something to someone or for people who are so afraid to be who they are, (then hopefully) it can help them claim their own wings so they can freely fly.”

It’s evident that Nar takes gratitude seriously — learning from his heroes, he is mindful of the power that influence holds. As a queer person in media, we see Nar representing queer voices that need to be louder. His music video for his lead single GaGa, for instance, shows him in drag, playing opposite Alex Medina. He exclaims, “Ako, there are days na I wake up and I feel feminine. If I’m gonna start something, I want it to be a representation of my many different selves. Gusto ko si Beyoncé, no one’s gonna do that for me, so I’m gonna do that for me.”

Nar has come a long way, but his drive to be successful is not purely personal. He notes, “Itong ine-enjoy kong kalayaan, itong kalayaan na maging bading, dahil may mga nagtrabaho na nito prior to me. (Artists who) made a name for themselves and brought out the flag kahit hindi nila sinasadya. I am inspired by them, and I want to do the same for other people.” When asked about his hopes for the future, he adds, “Sana maka-create tayo ng loving, working place for all people of color and gender. Kasi, iba ‘yung sarap ng trabaho na kayang mahalin ka at alam mong mahal ka at hindi ka lang tolerated. Alam mong cine-celebrate ka... Na ang tagumpay mo, tagumpay din nila. Na ‘yung rights mo, rights na rin nila. At they enjoy what you enjoy. I want to have kids… I want my kids to play with my kids’ barkadas. Wala ka maririnig na shade. I have so much love and I want it to transcend on a large scale.”


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