It was a long time coming for 25-year-old Martin Javier, but to lead the life he set out for was well worth the wait. As a host, commentator, and anchor for ABS-CBN Sports + Action, the young Martin is now a familiar face in the local sports scene. A day in his shoes consists of getting paid to cover the game he loves, basketball—and often flying out of the country to do it. But just a few years ago, Martin was far from recognized (save for, perhaps, his radio gig and being a cum laude grad from UP Diliman). Lucky for us, we caught him before he could jet off for another day of work. Besides divulging his pastimes, he shared with us his humble beginnings, the struggles he faced along the way, and just how he got to where he is now.
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On a scale of 1-10, how much a geek/nerd are you?
"Probably 9. I’m very interested in science, basketball, how life works… (But) if I were to go full-on geek on something, I wouldn’t be able to touch on the other interests I have. It would kind of compromise my time and energy. Yon. 9 because I leave space to learn about things."
What sparked your interest in the particular field you're in now?
"In college, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I think nobody knows except the pure artists. My intention to join a degree program like Broadcast Communication was to follow the footsteps of my dad in advertising. But when I was there, I saw different things. Naging iba-iba na yung perspective ko. I started hosting and speaking when I was (in) third year college. I was a student DJ for RX. I (also) joined Myx VJ search. Although I didn't win, it opened my eyes to everything that's happening in the business.
In my senior year, I auditioned for courtside. I had hopes that they would get a guy courtside reporter because they had one in the previous season. But for some reason, they didn't. After that, I graduated and worked in advertising and did commercial modelling on the side.
Pero my interest (to become a sportscaster) was still there. I've been a basketball addict since I was a kid. It's pretty much all I read and all I think about. I examined the patterns of different people who pursued careers in broadcasting (and learned) you need to go all in to get the opportunities.
In-email ko ulit yung executive producer ng UAAP. Sabi ko, ‘Ma'am, I think may audition kayo ulit ng courtside reporter. I want to try even though I'm a graduate already.’ Sabi niya, ‘Sige, drop off your resumé.' So, I personally went there, pero hindi niya 'ko kinuha sa UAAP; binigay niya dun sa isang executive producer of the NCAA na looking for a sports commentator. Yon, tinawagan niya 'ko, I auditioned…Tapos a year (passed), hindi niya 'ko tinawagan. That was mid-season already. Medyo discouraged ako; tagal na, wala pang nangyayari. I was already looking for jobs abroad and then it came. The executive producer had me do a second audition. Then okay na."
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Who are your role models in the industry?
"Favorite host ko si Conan O’Brien. He’s very quick. He asks smart questions. And he’s very funny—like, effortlessly funny kahit medyo OA. So that's my peg host. I want to reach that level someday.
As a sportscaster, I look up to Sev Sarmenta, Boom Gonzales, and Mico Halili. I work with (Boom) now, (it’s) surreal sometimes. Sev has a certain control in sportscasting. As a newbie, ang una kong natututunan is how to follow the action. But since they've got that experience already, they have a grasp of the game that you really feel in the coverage. And they bring out the best in their partners. Iba-iba kasi; you're not going to be partnered with veterans all the time. And (it’s) not all the time you're going be partnered with very articulate people. Hindi sila masyadong outspoken, but they still find a way to push the right buttons to talk effectively during the game. Aside from those, they've created a certain image in Philippines sports that I really respect."
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Career wise, how do you use your smarts to your advantage?
"Studious ako (throughout) my entire education—first honor, salutatorian graduated…Then nag-lay low na ako in high school. Sabi ko, "I wanted to try more things," but carry the study habits that I had in grade school. When I went to college, nag-org ako, nag-student DJ ako, nag-try ako ng TV. Pero meron din akong conscious effort to maintain a certain grade.
How do I use it to my advantage? ‘Til now I carry the work ethic I developed. Some people, even the professionals, take things for granted. They just wing the entire situation. But since I have that work ethic, I make an effort to maintain a certain standard for myself. Tingin ko nagiging automatic na sa 'kin yung mag-prepare extensively for a game. O let’s say in events hosting, mahahalata pag ‘di mo binasa yung script, pag hindi ka nag-research about the company, and if you really know what you’re talking about.
I think since I'm in this industry already I'm able to use the smarts to really pull off my hostings and coverages. Whatever comes out of your mouth is going to define your career."
Do you have a favorite movie?
"Ang hirap! I rank my movies based on how I was able to relate to them. Forrest Gump and The Greatest Showman are pretty much on-point with my situation in terms of my career and my beginnings.
Forrest Gump is about a person who really persisted with his life, despite his struggles early on. He made life a lot simpler with the way he lived it. And he bloomed wherever he was planted. When he was a soldier, he was able to get a badge of honor. He excelled in table tennis. I think that's a very important aspect because if you have big dreams—‘cause I have really big dreams—and you're going to start them here in the Philippines…it's a small country in a big world. You have to bloom here first and then make the necessary steps to get to your bigger dreams. And I like that famous line, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'
The Greatest Showman tells the story of P.T. Barnum and how he flourished despite his poor beginnings. He worked for this company pero natanggal siya sa trabaho (because) the company got bankrupt. (Yet) he was able to create an empire—a circus. He gathered the weird ones to be in the circus. Other people have opinions about the movie, but I saw it as the weird ones getting comfortable in their own skin, facing adversity, and facing other people.
I also relate to The Greatest Showman because I struggled with confidence. In Antipolo, I didn’t know anyone outside of my high school. I lacked experience in social interactions. Going into college, I had to work on my self-esteem kasi I’m in broadcasting. ‘Di ba, in media there are a lot of people with strong personalities? You need to keep up and match that level of confidence. Now I'm getting more comfortable in my skin, making people believe in my craft, and just striving hard. You know, I didn't come from a super well-off family. We were okay (but) naturally, there were limitations along the way. And for me, it's just (about) persisting through life, not giving up, and pursuing your dreams despite all odds."
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How about favorite band?
"One would be Coheed and Cambria. It's a progressive rock band that was very popular when I was in high school. They had great songs with great messages. And you can see their progression from their second album to their fourth album—they really changed up the sound. But I still listen to them until now.
A more mainstream one would be Coldplay. They have a lot of inspiration in their songs. I also found those during my low moments. They really helped me get back on my feet. Kumbaga, tagos lagi yung songs nila. And they're not very hard to relate to."
What's your guilty pleasure?
"Is it a guilty pleasure to listen to Sia? (Laughs) She's amazing. Puro pick-me-uppers yung songs niya. The song Reaper is crazy. It talks about yung demon not affecting the mind. "Not today, not today," parang ganon. That's probably my biggest guilty pleasure…and watching Pinoy movies with my mom—the mainstream ones. She likes the love teams and I'm forced to tag along—take note, "forced". (Laughs) Another guilty pleasure would be watching late-night show videos on YouTube. Conan, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, and Ellen—those are my staples.
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In terms of catching a girl's eye, would you say that smart guys have an advantage over sporty guys?
"That's a tricky question, because it depends on the girl. It depends on what she wants. In general, I think looks will come first. But if the girl is open to conversing with you, that's when you can actually bust out the intelligent stuff. When the smart and confident ones introduce themselves, they’re able to engage kahit sinong girl in a very substantial conversation.
I think they have the advantage, because if they’re really smart they usually know what to talk about when they come up to a girl. Conversation is a very important aspect of a relationship. If the girl is looking for a good conversationalist, they would make a stronger first impression."
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Produced by Camille Santiago | Creative direction by Barry Viloria | Photographs by Vyn Radovan | Styling by Gelie Manansala | Grooming by Cecille Ramirez of MDA | Shot on location at: Chaos, City of Dreams, Pasay City | Special thanks to: Charisse Chuidian, Romina Gervacio, and Fran Arias of City of Dreams | Melanie Acedillo of MDA | Glaiza Agbayani of R2 Group of Companies | Banner image by Lui Jimenez