Menagerie Menagerie Feature

Matty Juniosa: A song of hope and determination

It’s the end of a long day of school and Matty is tired. His elementary school dismisses him early enough that he has time for a little magic before dinner. With palpable excitement he sits in front of his family’s TV and turns it on. Music plays. He sings along.

Years have passed, Matty Juniosa (AB-ISA, ‘18) is no longer a child but he still has time for magic. Known lovingly as “Beyoncé” to his friends, for years he has shared his love for music with the Lasallian community as a member of De La Salle Innersoul. However, he admits that in the past he wasn’t confident in his singing, “My singing hasn’t always been the best. I was always put down for wanting to sing and all that.”

But Matty embraced music—and music embraced him back. Performing  has always been a way for him to express himself ever since he was a child. When the news of his competing in Idol Philippines broke, he was met with an outpouring support from loved ones and friends, Innersoul, and the Culture and Arts Office of DLSU. “It’s been overwhelming for me, and I really want to thank everyone who’s been supporting me.”

In his soul

Before Matty became a contestant in Idol Philippines, he was an applicant for The Voice of the Philippines season 2. Sadly, he didn’t make the cut. “When I was rejected, I really didn’t know why…but it came to me that I had so much more to learn.” Though the rejection stung, he picked himself up and stepped back to learn from the experience. In his failure, he found a place where he could grow into the performer he was meant to be: DLSU Innersoul.

Matty can spend hours talking about his time at Innersoul, “I had to have a place where I could express who I really am and Innersoul was that for me.” His love for Innersoul shines through his giddy voice. Every single failure, every single criticism, every single challenge helped craft him into the person he is today. Matty declares, “Innersoul made me a better person and made me a better performer—I will always be thankful for Innersoul for teaching me the best lessons in life.” In fact, he has Innersoul’s beloved late coach, John Bradley Fenomeno, to thank for being an inspiration for him to try again and audition for Idol.

The spotlight is blinding, but Matty, who’s grown and still wants to grow, thrives. After every performance a question is stamped at the back of his mind, and it revertebrates through him: “How much of yourself do you think you gave?”

Let the true colors shine through

For Idol, he gave everything he had and more, “It felt like every single thing that I learned in the 19 years of my life, I had to put it on the table.” He bared his heart for us to see, although the episode wasn’t able to highlight his love for drag culture, “The forefront of my journey was supposed to be my interest in drag and my aspiration to be a drag queen, but it wasn’t shown. I wanted to start by showing them the [beauty] of the art of drag.”

Moreover, Matty wants to advocate for more love and acceptance toward the LGBTQ+ community. Growing up, his family struggled with his identity. Years have passed but his father’s rejection still stings, “It ruined my idea of love, of a great man who was supposed to be my father. The first man who should ever show me love is the first man who broke my heart.” However, he is thankful for his mother who despite not being enthusiastic in the past, eventually “found her way through it”.

As a gay man, Matty personally doesn’t mind whatever pronoun a person uses to refer to him as long as “it’s out of love and respect”. He proudly embraces both his femininity and masculinity.

Idol and (role) model

While he’s too humble to claim the title of role model, it’s undeniable that Matty is someone to look up to, especially as society is changing how they look at the LGBTQ+ community, “I don’t want to say that I want to be a role model, but I do want to start a change.” With all that Matty has endured, his experiences have not brought him down but instead have given him hope, “The world is cruel. But there’s so much good people in the world, and there’s so much love that can be [found] if we just stop being afraid and we just stop [throwing our] differences at other people.”

Looking back, Matty attributes La Salle in teaching him to understand the world’s nuances. “The education I had in La Salle, the people that I met, the lessons that I learned, my Hogwarts DLSU class, every single thing that I’ve been through has molded me to be the person that I am today.” As a proud Gryffindor from Hogwarts DLSU, after seeing these nuances, he is more determined to do what he can to help.

He wants to use Idol as a platform for him to voice out his advocacies and to further hone his craft. Matty wants to keep learning, he wants to absorb everything he can to improve himself. But more than that, Matty’s goals transcend himself, “I want to use my influence, [and establish] a positive and very loving platform. I have such grand dreams, and I’m making baby steps to reach them—and I hope Idol is one way for me to achieve that.”

Matty used to sit in front of the TV after school to watch his idols perform. Now, perhaps another child somewhere will be browsing through their phone and will stumble upon a video of him singing. Perhaps they too will find their voice after knowing that Matty fought for his.

“I think music will always be that language that transcends beyond every single difference that we have in this world.”

Emily Lim

By Emily Lim

Denise Nicole Uy

By Denise Nicole Uy

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