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Photography: Stephen Capuchino

Not everything you don’t tell is a secret—more so if it’s worth letting people know about it.

26-year-old Nikko Seagal Natividad, popularly known as Hashtag Nikko of the noontime show It’s Showtime, let the StarStudio.ph team discover his hidden big secret: a new negosyo called Don’t Tell, a bar at Scout Rallos St., Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City.

Within the intimate vibe of the New York-inspired speakeasy, the inspiring story of its owner is revealed—someone who has forged his own path to a better and meaningful life.

Life without bitterness

Since Nikko was young, growing up in Malolos, Bulacan, he seemed to always spot the silver linings in his life.

Photo from Insatgram (@hashtag_nikko)

At two years old, Nikko’s parents got separated, leaving him and his sister with their close relatives from his father’s side. Their mother stopped seeing them when Nikko was in fifth grade, while his father came back when he was already 14 years old. Although they found it difficult to live and adjust from one house to another, Nikko believes it made him stronger.

 Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

“Gusto kong makisama, [maging] independent. Kaso, lumaki ako sa family na—alam mo ‘yung lumang panahon na, kapag mali ka, papaluin ka. Kaya disiplinado kami,” he explains.

He considers the family he grew up with as disciplinarians. He recalls one of the biggest punishments he received: “Noong hindi ko kabisado ‘yung Monday to Sunday, pinapalo ako ng tita ko.”

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

During the majority of their childhood, Nikko and his sister were under the careful watch of their Tita Jenny who treated them like her own. However, they eventually had to leave her and move to their father’s girlfriend’s family in Bagong Silang, Caloocan. At that time, their father in Japan experienced financial problems.

“Doon ko first time makapag-trabaho...Naglilinis ako ng jeep. First-year high school ako noon, thirteen years old. Kumikita ako ng seventy to eighty. Hapon mag-start, hanggang gabi.”

He says that he bought his personal stuff, like shampoo and soap, out of his modest earnings. He proudly shares that he also continued his studies despite his being busy at work.

Nikko and his sister eventually went back to their Tita Jenny, his relatives from his father’s side. He was able to pursue his studies until the first year in college where he took Hotel and Restaurant Management, while working as a wedding coordinator every weekend.

Photo from Insatgram (@hashtag_nikko)

Later on, he decided to leave school and work full time instead. “‘Di natuloy eh. Nakapagtrabaho na rin, nagwawaiter ako sa iba’t ibang restaurants.”

He was also offered a job in the United Arab Emirates as a florist which he grabbed (and only because it had no placement fees).

“Doon ako nag-nineteen years old. Parang birthday ko, two days na lang birthday ko, or one week,” he remembers. “Pero two years ‘yung contract ko. Ang nangyari, ‘di ko siya natapos. Six months lang. Kasi, namatay ‘yung lola ko.”

Nikko never returned to the UAE.

In 2014, he became a waiter at a famous grill restaurant and bar.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

Nikko’s mother returned from London, United Kingdom, last year to meet him and his sister after years of being apart. He and his sister held no grudges against their mother and openly welcomed her during her stay.


“May kanya-kanya silang buhay, so anuman ‘yung pinaghiwalayan nila noon ng mommy at daddy ko, wala na ako doon. Hawak nilang mag-asawa ‘yun. Kaya ‘di ko masasabi na ‘yung childhood ko, malungkot.”

Nikko has two younger half-sisters from his mother, and another one from his father.

Waiter turned celebrity

Without any background in pageants or talent searches, Nikko was reluctant to join Gandang Lalake, the It’s Showtime competition for ‘employed young males’.

However, his family and friends were able to convince him. “Noong nalaman ko na three hundred thousand ‘yung premyo niya, doon ako na-engganyo. Kasi wala naman talaga akong pera,” he says.

It’s still crystal clear in his mind how he first auditioned and got overwhelmed by the number of Gandang Lalake aspirants. “‘Yun, natanggap, sabi nila balik ka, parang nakatatlong balik ako. ‘Yun. Tapos after tatlong balik, ini-schedule nila kung kailan ako sasalang.”

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment

Nikko learned how to dance and perform only by watching Youtube videos.

He won as a daily winner until he reached the semi-finals and the finals round. During the finals, he danced to the song Take Your Shirt Off that made the audience wild. His answer to the contest’s question and answer portion praised the happy working attitude of a waiter.

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment

Nikko was then hailed as the first winner of Gandang Lalake.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

His victory from the It’s Showtime competition earned him money and quite the fame, but it never promised him a showbiz career.

“One year ang lumipas. Parang, kinontact ako, magkakaroon daw ng audition sa Showtime. Pero hindi sinabing Hashtags. Pumunta lang daw ako.”

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

Nikko was screened several times like any other auditionee—until they decreased in number. For someone who lives in Bulacan with no personal vehicle, coming to ABS-CBN every day wasn’t easy. “Parang, matatapos kami mag-rehearse, eleven-thirty to twelve (evening). Uuwi ako ng Bulacan, darating ako ng Bulacan mga 2AM. Tapos ang call time namin sa Showtime, 7AM, 8AM, kaya ako na lang natutong mag-antay ng NLEX ng mga six, umaalis na.”

Finally, In 2015: Nikko was launched with the ten other boys of the all-male group Hashtags.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

He also revealed that he was rejected in Pinoy Big Brother when he auditioned back in high school, but immersed as a celebrity housemate with co-Hashtag McCoy de Leon in Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7.

Photo from Instagram (@PBBabscbntv)

He may not have been the Grand Winner, but Nikko was definitely one of the notable housemates of the seventh edition as he was tagged as the Most Valuable Housemate. It gained him a lot of confidence after his stint on the show. “Hindi ka na nahihirapan magpakilala sa tao. Alam na nila na, ay sa PBB nakakatawa ‘yan!”

“Pinakamalaking premyo ko sa PBB, ‘yung anak ko,” Nikko proudly adds. It was during that time that he revealed his son Aiden on national TV. “So noong napakilala ko ‘yung anak ko, nailalabas ko na siya sa mall, ta’s sa social media—sarap na, maluwag na.”

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

Blessings continually poured over Nikko as he accepted several teleseryes after PBB such as Hanggang Saan, Ang Probinsyano, and now Kadenang Ginto. He also appeared in Hopeful Romantic and landed his first lead role in Bakwit Boys. He shares that he all played these characters without formal training or workshops.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

Apart from acting, Nikko focuses on his hosting skills, following the footsteps of his idol Luis Manzano. “ ‘Yun ‘yung gusto ko, at kahit saan mo siya ilagay, mapa-formal hosting or bargas, kayang-kaya niya.” Currently, Nikko hosts in Umagang Kay Ganda and It’s Showtime Online.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

When asked what is the biggest advice Nikko got from his workmates, he answered with, “Advice nila sa’min na kahit sumikat ka, kahit hindi ka sikat, dapat, ah, pantay-pantay tingin mo sa mga staff.”

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_nikko)

Taking Risks

While he was busying himself with showbiz engagements, it was one day when he suddenly got inspiration from co-housemate Hideo Muraoka regarding putting up a business. “Sa kanya ako nainspire, parang sabi niya, una, paano maging mabuting daddy daw. Inexplain niya sa akin, kaya din ako nainspire mag-work out dahil sa kanya, ‘yun, paano mag-alaga ng sarili.” he says. “ Ta’s doon niya napasok ‘yung negosyo, pag-iinvest.”

 

He further explains: “Ba’t ka matatakot sa business, sabi niya. Sabi ko, eh kasi, baka matalo eh. Ta’s doon niya sa’kin sinabi na, kung lahat, sure na mananalo, lahat ng tao may business.”

Convinced by Hideo’s words of wisdom, Nikko opened his doors for business. “Nagbabasa-basa ako. Mga tungkol sa business, may binasa rin akong libro noon na, sa pera, paano hawakan ‘yung pera nang tama,” the Hashtags member shares.

He was thinking of putting up a bar. “Taga-Bulacan ako, ‘di naman sanay talaga na nagba-bar, wala din akong idea sa business. Tinry ko dito kasi parang, sikat ‘yung bar sa Manila eh.”


In May 2018, the ‘Don’t Tell’ Bar was born. Nikko’s co-owner and friend Ristell Guarin describes him as having the “negosyanteng mindset,” and that is why he accepted the business Ristell proposed. The two co-owners are now proud to have their own unique recipes of chicken wings, pasta, and pizza.

 

‘Don’t Tell’ is also a discreet bar where privacy is highly respected. “Ang daming nagpupunta dito na mga artista, model, at celebrity, kasi ‘yung crowd dito, hindi sila masyadong, nakukulit ba,” says Nikko.

 

As a fast-rising bar business, Nikko and his team are eyeing on catering for larger events, too. He talks about his hopes for ‘Don’t Tell’: “Siyempre, makilala. Kasi, ah, target ko talaga, dito, lumakas kami sa private. Kasi ayoko talaga ng siksikan, eh.”

 

Apart from ‘Don’t Tell’, Nikko is hopeful to own solely a different business “Ang pangarap ko talagang business, car salon. ‘Yung magse-set up ka ng car, pero kapag business ko, sarili ko na.”

Now that’s the biggest hashtag of his life!

 

 

Art Direction: Alfred Amado

Hair and Makeup: Eleny Natividad

Special Thanks to It's Showtime Wardrobe