MEG September 2019 Cover Star, Karina Bautista on How She Stays Ahead of the Game


Independence is a wonderful thing, especially for a strong, ambitious woman. But at the young age of 12, Karina Bautista has had to have her own back by living on her own; earning her the moniker, “Miss Independent ng Isabela” when she joined the latest season of the prolific reality show, Pinoy Big Brother.

Competitions are all she has ever known

Being used to competing and participating in her own fair share of pageants, winning the grand title crown was always the goal. What more in Pinoy Big Brother where she faced the greatest competition of her life thus far?

“I always wanted the crown. First time ko sa school lang it [beauty pageants] was just for fun para ma-try lang. Until I wanted to be better… I dreamt of joining PBB…Each time I get on there it was my love for winning, for the crown. I never settled for less but the best. I also did it for myself, because it made me happy and feel confident. It also helped me financially; it turned into one of my sources of income.”

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The Big Dream

Karina Bautista has always been a dreamer. A brave one. Because to continuously put yourself out there for the world to see and consistently judge in order to achieve your biggest dream is no easy feat; especially at an age when most girls would often choose to bow out in order to fit in and be accepted. For Karina, it wasn’t as simple as her just willing herself into stardom, even though she had the makings of a star: a young, intelligent and talented girl with looks often compared to the likes of A-lister leading ladies like Liza Soberano and Kathryn Bernardo. Unfortunately, her circumstances in life didn’t allow for her to simply ask. To get what she wanted, Karina has always been used to pulling herself by her bootstraps and charging head on. If it wasn’t going to be handed over, she would work for it.

“I joined PBB para talaga sa sarili ko, sa mga pangarap ko, kasi sa tagal ng panahon, nahirapan talaga ako hanapin kung ano ba talaga gusto ko sa buhay, until PBB. Sumali ako kasi nagbabakasakali ako na baka mabago ko ang buhay ko. Na maiaayos ko yun mga bagay na nawala sa akin. At para mas makilala na rin ang sarili ko. Nakita ko yun posisyon ng buhay ko nung mga oras na yun and I said to myself, ‘I didn’t want to stay there.’”

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And work for it she did in the latest season of Pinoy Big Brother. She bared her life, her personality, her limitations—all for the country to see. It was a huge gamble considering she was already giving away her semblance of privacy with no assurance it would come back with any returns. Would she win? There were 4 Batches and hundreds of Star Dreamers during the season. For anyone trying to make it far into the competition, the odds were stacked intimidatingly high.

“My real goal was just to feel the rest of my stay inside, be real and proud with myself, be happy and fight for my dream to become part of the Big Four and become the big winner. At first, oo I saw them [housemates] as my competitors pero that changed kasi naging parte na din sila ng pangarap ko at sobra na akong napamahal sa kanila.”

When does the competition stop?

A notable trait of the first batch of Pinoy Big Brother Otso is their closeness. A lot of them made decisions anchored on friendship instead of competition, and even Karina who grew up fending for herself alone, felt her heart grow soft for her newfound family. It reached a point where Karina was willing to let go of opportunities to make it to the Big Four, the first big step towards the grand title of Big Winner—her original goal.

“The time I gave up my Big Jump spot doon ko na narealize kung gaano na pala sila kaimportante sa akin na I was ready to give up myself for the them or para sa nabuong pamilya ng Batch 1. Hindi ko alam pero it just felt good that I started thinking about others.”

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It is difficult for ambitious dreamers to give way because the thing about dreams is that there will always be other people working towards the same goal. This is especially the case in competitions, where these dreamers are set to out-perform each other for a single title. During her time in the Pinoy Big Brother house though, Karina has learned that the secret to always getting better isn’t to compete with others but with yourself.

“Pero katulad din ng dati akala ko di ko sila makakaclose but there I found a mom, a dad, a sister, and a brother, A Big Family. Then it wasn’t them I’m competing with it’s with my fears, my doubts, my mind and my heart.”

The trouble with competing with yourself though, is that you’re forced to put yourself under a lens and say, ‘Well, what can I improve?’ This is especially difficult as Karina is no stranger to self-doubt. Like most girls her age, sometimes her biggest struggle isn’t always the journey to the crown, but to believe that she deserved the praise being given to her along the way.

Independence and Insecurities

“Lumaki ako ng mag-isa na wala masyadong atensyon, so I don’t usually get compliments. Kaya lagi kong nafefeel na there’s someone better than me. Na di ako maganda, di ako talented, na wala pakong nararating. I compare myself to other girls, to what they have achieved and from what they have. I’ve learned to deal with it just recently to focus on yourself, no one needs to compliment you but yourself, feel great and everything will follow. Just love who you are.”

Like any dream, to decide to let go and just go for your gut is a big gamble, and, for our Miss Independent, the stakes were especially high.

But she allowed herself to shoot her shot and, as the old saying goes, dreams only work if you do. If her thousands of adoring fans are any indication, Karina most definitely worked.

Karina Bautista was always meant to be ahead of the game

“At first, all I wanted was to join PBB, then to become Big 4, then become the Big Winner. Tapos inisip ko na after ng journey ko sa Bahay ni Kuya tapos na. Hindi ko inaasahan lahat ng dumating sa akin, na makakapagguest ako o makakapagcover sa magazine… Ngayon sobrang thankful lang ako sa lahat ng tumulong sa akin para makaabot dito. My love may be silent but it is real.”

More than the Big Winner title, or even the Ultimate Big Four slot, Karina Bautista found herself with tons of new opportunities that prove that sometimes your ultim8 goal isn’t what’s for you, and that’s okay—because crown or no crown, you can still reign supreme.

“You are good enough and you are more than that…It’s fine to be afraid, but it isn’t when we let it eat our dreams. You have to fight, take one step at a time and you’ll never know [until] you’ve already reached your destination.”

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Photography by Yukie Sarto
Sittings Editor and Creative Direction by Elyse Ilagan
Art Direction by Suzanne Allbabidi
Styling by Joanna Garcia
Assisted by Anette Howell and Van Martinez
Makeup by Eman De Leon
Hair by Mycke Arcano
Nails by Extraordinail
Publisher: Archie Carrasco