How do you measure a year? For Nadine Lustre, it was a whole lot of learning and unlearning, connecting and reconnecting, accepting and letting go in order to fully express her truth.
For a woman of her prominence, one would expect a parade of fanfare to follow her every move, her every breath, which by the playbook of a past life is completely understandable. But unlike the typical, often obnoxious trumpeting that seems to be the standard of a time gone by, Nadine Lustre slips into the room almost covertly way ahead of everyone that day. Cocooned in the comforts athleisure, lugging a cooler and hangers of Wildest Dreams merch just by herself, she makes a valiant attempt at stealth mode, and sits in the corner of the room where the morning was beginning to spill all over. Basking in the light that was slowly coloring the space into its full vibrant potential in a shocking orange, she nurses the tall canister of coffee in her hands and her face pulls from the sides to reveal a smile.
“Good morning,” she says, motioning a seat near her (distances were observed of course, with the acrylic partitions standing guard). “How are you?”
Much like the rest of the world, we haven’t seen Nadine Lustre in close to a year. The last time we sat face to face, a few weeks shy of the pandemic outbreak, she was just about to start pre-production work on a television series that was set to take her across Asia in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and the Philippines, of course. That and she made the biggest, boldest, and bravest risk of her career then—terminating her contract with Viva Artist Agency and deciding to move forward being a self-managed artist. So, by all accounts necessary, the liberation of Nadine Lustre was just beginning and not only could she do what she wanted to do, but most importantly, she very well could be the person she wanted to be, herself.
Nadine Lustre Looks Back
“I was going through a lot of things. I just left my agency and just gotten out of a breakup. A lot of things were crazy and may ugali ako na I lean on my friends for emotional support. At that time, I wasn’t very self-sufficient,” Nadine Lustre begins as she takes us through the year that was. “But then, because of the pandemic, you know, I was forced to kind of deal with a lot of things alone. I mean, I have my friends to talk to, but it’s still different seeing your friends and they’re there, physically comforting you.”
Having a lot to deal with, coupled with a catastrophe that crippled the world as we knew it, she was now backed into a corner and compelled to deal with her own crisis. “It’s different, because I felt like, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t express. So, I had to turn to myself to deal with all of that stuff. And I have a lot of, you know, things that I haven’t unearthed in a long time. Just personal issues, like, the death of my brother, all these insecurities, doubts—all of that. In this pandemic, you really have no escape. That’s how I see it. there’s no running away from it. it’s like you’re facing it head on, because there’s no other way. There’s nothing to distract you, because everything was on hold, even work.”
Oh, just like many of us, she made attempts to fill in the gaps of what was then presumably a temporary thing. Many Netflix shows were watched, campaigns for sustainability and calamity relief operations embarked on, and pockets of self-discoveries were made at quick paces, but as we learned fast, this reality was an arduous uphill climb.
Being left all alone with all of that weighing down on her, it was definitely a lot for Nadine Lustre, one who has never shied of opening up about her feelings or starting conversations on important things such as mental health. But for someone who was used to denying the process and attempting the fast track to moving forward, there wasn’t much of a choice left for her to even consider. Even the strong have to relent to the mighty swing of life’s circumstance.
“It was really just me facing all of these issues and all of these fears and dealing with it. Wala talaga akong ibang maasahan…I had to go through it. And I realized that why does everything have to be so complicated in my life? Like, why do I have to complicate things? I know that I’ve always been that kind of person for some reason—I kind of complicate things, even if I don’t mean to,” she admits. “So, I learned to simplify a lot of things. I’m naturally an over-thinker, which I still tend to do sometimes, but it has been it’s definitely less than that since then.”
With a lot more time on her hands and an opportunity to look inward with focus, Nadine Lustre began her journey of introspection. Here, active steps were taken to learn and unlearn, connect and reconnect, and to accept and let go. “Honestly, I’ve never felt more balanced in quite a long time. I’ve been doing chakra healing, balancing, and all that, and I think at this point of my life, it’s like I’m not asking for more. I’m pretty contented with what I have,” she declares.
Nadine Lustre And Her Moments
“There are things you just can’t really control and you have to leave it be. It’s just that…and I listen to a lot of Jhené Aiko,” Nadine Lustre shares of what kept her sane and centered thus far. “There’s a line in her song that really struck me. It didn’t really mean anything to me back then, but now, it makes sense. In Moments, she says, ‘Everything you need to be contented is right here, right in this minute. You can have it when you understand that all that matters is right here.’”
Now, it might sound something standard in the bearings of one’s life, but really, even with all the positive reinforcements shoved down on us, it still is easier said than done. It is a beautiful, even necessary sentiment, but contentment is such a lofty ideal, you know? And while it may be a big ask in general, Nadine Lustre has been working on really getting to a headspace of mindfulness to appreciate everything that comes her way and to find joy where she can.
“The last year was horrible for all of us, but I kind of see it as an opportunity to look inside instead of out. So, I treated it differently. I’m not going to lie, I was scared. A lot of things were happening, but I try to see the good in everything, because I’m pretty sure there’s a reason for all that I’ve been through,” she shares. “I really have this weird mindset, that whenever something unlikely is happening, there is some form of good that is going to come out of it.”
The Reclaiming Of Truth By Nadine Lustre
That good came in the form of the release of her highly anticipated album, Wildest Dreams. A creative collaboration with Careless, this passion project of Nadine Lustre essayed her different states of becoming, traversing the subconscious in a progression of confidence. Chronicled in the past, present, and future, this mix of metaphors and motion essayed her assertions and affirmations to feel, to forge her own person, to trust her own vision, to be one with others, and finally, to follow her fantasies.
“It’s really just about, you know, being true to yourself. And by that you also show everyone who you really are, and not being afraid of it. Because almost my whole life, that’s something that I’ve been afraid of,” says Nadine Lustre of Wildest Dreams. “Well, I mean, ever since nag showbiz ako, it’s one thing that I’ve been so afraid of. In show business, people tend to tell you what it is that you should be doing, how you should look, what you should say, you know? Everything is given to you, and it’s kind of them molding you to become someone you’re not. So, that pretty much happened to me. And so now that, you know, I’ve broken out into that mold. Now that I am braver, you know, I kind of am braver of showing everyone who I really am, nagtuloy-tuloy na lang siya.”
More than an expansion of her creative horizon and an extension of herself, Wildest Dreams was a testament to how far she has come in reclaiming her identity once manufactured the well-oiled machinations of the systems and institutions of the industry. Nadine Lustre wasn’t just in charge; she was all she wanted to be.
Nadine Lustre, Expressed
“I don’t look back anymore because I feel like I’m free, just expressing myself and showing everyone who I really am. And I believe it should have been like that from the very beginning. But then at the end of the day, it’s authenticity that people want,” asserts Nadine Lustre as to how it should have always been. “Actually, before I even started becoming serious with music, nag-o-open up na ako. And I feel like people know me for being honest, being authentic. Music just solidified the whole thing and here, I was able to express things that I can’t through all the other mediums and creative exhausts.”
For the consummate creative, music was the anchor for her truth, one that serves as a moor for her, but for others as well. “Honestly, it feels really good,” she says of people taking to her song and making it a crucial cornerstone for their lives. “Because, you know, I love music. And every time I listen to an artist for example, it changes me and it moves me in a way that you can’t understand. For some reason, it just affects you that way. So, for people who listen to my music to feel the same way or heal because of my truth, it’s really something else.”
“There’s something healing about your experiences—what you’ve gone through, especially in a form of art that people will see. It’s an emotional release…there’s something freeing about it,” she says of the catharsis that was Wildest Dreams. “After I released my album, para akong nabawasan ng damage. That’s how it felt like.” But more than that, however, this was when Nadine Lustre felt the most free—finally.
Was It Worth It?
Even with the public’s pressure to excel in entertainment and exceed expectations, these were of little to no concern for Nadine Lustre. “There wasn’t any doubt,” she ascertains. “I wasn’t scared that people wouldn’t like it or people wouldn’t understand. It’s more of hopefully it helps them or makes them feel a type of way.” What was important for her was that she gets to wear her heart on her sleeve and be her most honest, most unapologetic, most independent self.
“When you say independence, it really is freedom. Freedom to do what you, say what you want without anyone really stopping you. Before, there were so many things that I couldn’t do. I was branded differently, you know, the usual artista where everyone has to look up to you like you’re a saint, which I’m not,” says Nadine Lustre. “As soon as I left the agency, I was able to say no to things that I didn’t want to do. I was able to say yes to things that they probably wouldn’t take me do, but I really wanted to do. I was able to dress the way that I want, I was able to put out things that are up to the quality that I want. Before, there were so many limitations.”
“I’m not going to say it’s easier. It’s definitely harder. The job is five times harder than before because you don’t have an agency to back you up. Now, it’s like, you want do this? You have to do it by yourself. You have to fund it or find someone to partner with you…no one else is going to back you up financially this time. Mas mahirap siya,” she says taking a deep breath to collect herself. “But it is worth it.”
CONTINUE READING: HER BRAVE NEW FRONT: NADINE LUSTRE IS NO LONGER HOLDING BACK