Freeman Cebu Entertainment

A self-empowering sophomore single from Cebuana singer Justine Narvios

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Justine Narvios recalls that fateful day on January 2020 when she auditioned in front of Viva Records executives who were looking for new Cebuano talent to add to their label.

“When Viva Records had their open auditions in Cebu, I was actually the very first auditionee so my number was 0001,” the singer from Talisay City tells The FREEMAN in a recent video interview.

Before Narvios auditioned for Viva, she participated in various music competitions, most notably Sinulog Idol, The Voice Teens Philippines, and Tawag ng Tanghalan.

She made a strong impression on Viva which signed her on the spot. So far, she has released two singles under the label, one of which she dropped last month.

Titled “Sine”, this sophomore track is also the first song she composed and performed in Tagalog – a challenge she accepted when label bosses asked her to write one.

“I did quite a lot of preparation like reading a lot of Tagalog poems and listening to a lot of OPM to understand the song structure,” she shares.

Narvios consulted with her mother about whether her Tagalog lyrics made sense. “I had her check a lot of Tagalog lyrics I wrote because Google Translate isn’t always so accurate. I want to make sure that the lyrics are right and the message would shine through even if I am not that totally fluent in Tagalog. I am glad all those months paid off and now I have this song out!”

Taking control

“Sine” is about taking back control of her destiny after feeling frustrated by circumstances beyond her control. The song was written in 2020 when performing in physical gigs was not possible due to pandemic lockdowns.

“I didn’t like having the feeling of not being in control and I didn’t like the feeling that life was throwing me around and that I had no options,” she explains.

The song was produced by Nazareth Actub who guided her on the process of creating the sound to accompany her lyrics.

“I don’t know how to produce or make the instrumentals, so I always asked him questions when I am beside him [in the recording studio],” she says.

The recording session was a learning process, with the producer encouraging her to arrive early in the studio to see how production works.

“It’s nice to work with Actub because he always wants me to be there when he starts putting the sounds in,” shares Narvios. “He is very patient in teaching me and answering my questions and he’s quite easy to work with.”

In a 2021 interview with The FREEMAN Conversations, Narvios described herself to be more of a songwriter, rather than a music producer.

“I find it easier to come up with the lyrics. If I have a tune in my head, I can easily fit that into lyrics. I find it easy to express what I feel into words, rather than making the instrumentals because I don’t play instruments. I think that stems from me writing poems and short stories as a kid.”

“Sine” serves as a self-empowerment song for herself as Narvios reiterates that at the end of the day, she is in control of her life.

“Writing this song was a reminder to myself that if my life is a movie, I am the director, the casting, the main character, and all the roles in between,” she says. “It’s a great reminder of self-actualization of taking control of your life and remembering that you have more control over everything that happens to you than what you think.”


Narvios looks up to “versatile artists with big voices” as her inspiration for the kind of talent that she wants to be. Her earliest inspirations were Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, citing them for influencing her dreams as a kid of becoming a recording artist as they continue to be her blueprint as an adult.

“They still make new music and they are not afraid to explore different genres. They show who they are. That’s something that inspires me to do good with my craft and be the best version that I can be.”

As a fan of hip-hop and R&B music, she idolizes former Viva star James Reid and American singer-rapper Doja Cat.

“I find Doja Cat’s rap style to be cool and unique, and she is just so explosive when she performs on stage,” she remarks.

As for James, she praised his versatility while remaining authentic to who he is. “He’s always not afraid to try different genres and do new things to show different sides of himself through his music, so I find that admirable.”

She is also a fan of K-pop, calling NCT as her favorite idol group with Jaehyun her “bias” member. Viva A-lister Sarah Geronimo is likewise her role model for the star’s wholesome personality on top of her incredible talent.

Viewers who watched “The Voice Teens PH” in 2017 can recall that a 16-year-old Narvios auditioned in front of Geronimo, along with other judges Sharon Cuneta, Lea Salonga, and Bamboo, where she performed “Sax” by Fleur East. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t turn their chairs despite her surprising them with her powerhouse vocals at a young age.

While feeling like it’s a “far-off dream”, she would love to collaborate with Sarah G. “It would be something that would totally blow my head off,” says Narvios.


While Narvios has her musical idols, family remains her biggest inspiration.

“When I was younger, my mom was always listening to R&B. I grew up with a lot of music by Mariah Carey, Usher, and early 2000s hip-hop and R&B,” she says, adding that her grandfather also played music often in their house and during car trips.

The music-oriented household was supportive of her aspirations: Her parents sent her to music school which she is grateful for as it allowed her to “hone [her] music skills.”

“My family cultivated this environment wherein music is something we enjoy and I didn’t feel pressured,” she says.

Narvios can’t imagine herself as an artist without her family’s passion for music, emphasizing their importance in her career.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t feel as confident as I am with my music now.”

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