EXCLUSIVE: Inigo Pascual And Maris Racal On Stronger Partnerships And Bigger Pursuits in 2019
With Maris Racal and Inigo Pascual in each and every journey is their Vivo V11, which has an innovative A.I. camera to capture their unforgettable milestones.
The story of MarNigo is of the sweet and unconventional kind, the stuff that romantic novels-turned-movies are made of. How their love team was formed was accidental, but how they’re strengthening it is a conscious effort, purposely done to value a once in a lifetime kind of person.
Maris Racal, the then 16-year-old darling of the Pinoy Big Brother household, met Piolo Pascual on one of the episodes of the reality TV show. The “Ultimate Heartthrob” would unknowingly play cupid by telling Maris, “Gusto mo hintayin ‘yung anak ko? Magka-edad kayo. Musikero din ‘yun.” That sealed the deal and made way for the eventual bloom of their loveteam.
After Maris stepped out of the PBB house, Inigo, the son of the iconic “Papa P.” sent a tweet to the young lady: “hi Maris, im Inigo. this is an awkward way to introduce myself but hi. Haha.”
And with their first meeting on Gandang Gabi, Vice, the loveteam “MarNigo” would fully be brought together. Today, since that first encounter, the two are closer than ever!
Loveteam partners Maris Racal and Inigo Pascual are looking forward to a wonderful 2019 with Vivo. Early this December, Vivo announced their multiyear partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA). Through this partnership, Vivo will be the Presenting Partner of the NBA Playoffs Bracket Challenge, a fantasy basketball game that allows participants to submit their NBA Playoffs predictions. On this partnership, NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson says, "With innovation at the forefront of Vivo's products and services, we look forward to integrating Vivo into our local events and global platforms through content creation and activations that will engage the modern Filipino fan.
“I used to be so shy, whenever I’d see his dad,” begins Maris. “But now, after the tour, sobrang dami na naming naging bonding. And yes, naging comfortable na ako sa kanya. Whenever I see him, sasabihin ko talaga, ‘Hi Papa P!’ and I’d give him a big hug!” laughs Maris. But as close as she is with Papa P now, she has grown even closer to his son, Inigo.
“I think Inigo and I just clicked from the very beginning, because we complement each other, onscreen and off-cam,” explains Maris. “We share a lot of things, a lot of common denominators like our sense of humor, love for music and the like.”
“But she always fights me!” interrupts Inigo with glee, prompting Maris to give him a hard poke in the rib. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” he exclaims.
“What I appreciate most about Inigo is that he’s very malambing sa lahat ng tao and how passionate he is sa craft niya. He’s very career-oriented for a young man,” she continues. “And matalino siyang kausap; he has a lot of opinions so hindi boring ‘yung pinaguusapan ever.”
Inigo shares his own reasons of appreciation for his “better half:” “Maris, on the other hand, is very independent, kaya bilib ako sa kanya. She does everything on her own sometimes. I get surprised na parang this girl is a rockstar!”
But more than being a strong, independent woman, Inigo appreciates that “she’s taught me to be myself, and be authentic as a person. We may piss each other off sometimes, but that’s being human. When you care about a person, you want them to be better, right? So that’s how she influences me, how she changes me for the better,” he adds.
On Inigo: Vintage shirt from Séason Pass. On Maris: black dress by Honey Faeryl Lim and Joan Bondoc, and white off-shoulder draped top by edit
With “wild fanaticism” defining most loveteams, the fans of MarNigo have become an exception. The two young stars share their gratitude for their fans who have not only proven to be loyal supporters but also an understanding lot.
“Our fans are amazing!’ beams Maris and Inigo. “They have grown along with us and you can see their maturity, because they support us as individuals as well,” shares Maris.
Inigo echoes the same sentiment, adding, “They’re not all about the kilig anymore. They honestly want us to grow in our respective careers.”
“They don’t even care if we end up together, they just want us to work together and achieve our dreams,” says Maris. “Nakakatuwa lang na they’re that supportive!”
And love and understanding are what this duo seek the most, especially as they navigate the complex maze of showbiz and adulthood.
On Inigo: Yellow suit by Rodel Briñas
Maris shares, “This year has been particularly stressful and challenging—professionally and personally. And social media sometimes adds on to the pressure.”
As every showbiz personality has come to learn, with great celebrity status comes more than their fair share of bashers, which sometimes—the two admit—has left them with emotional scars.
“(Whenever I read hurtful comments,) I just remind myself that they don’t know me and they don’t know what I do every day. I’ll just take high road always, kahit ano’ng i- throw nila sa’yo na masasakit na salita,” says Maris. She, of course, is mindful of her actions as a public figure, but she won’t allow the expectations of others to control her. She makes sure to live a balanced life and be true to herself.
Inigo, though of showbiz royalty, is not immune to the “online hate” as well. Before entering the limelight, he had lived a relatively normal life in the US as a regular teen. So he’s had to learn to overcome the culture shock as well of his newfound stardom.
“The negative stuff is inevitable; it’s part of the job. But there’s a positive, too. The bottom line is, what will you choose? Will you choose what will hurt you or what will better you?” he says with wisdom. Whenever he does feel at a loss or at a low, he listens to the advice from those he trusts most and who have the best intentions for him. These people include, of course, his parents and mentors like Direk Joyce Bernal.
Despite the hurt and the hate they sometimes receive online, MarNigo always chooses to give back positivity, beginning by sharing the love with their fans.
“I’m not the type to shoot a typical ‘thank you’ message on Twitter or social media,” says Maris. Rather, she makes the effort to get to know her fans and “inaasar ko sila na parang family.”
“The first thing I do in the morning,” she says, “is check my Vivo phone and send messages and birthday greetings. I also like stalking a lot of people and watching YouTube videos of inspiring stories.” A self-proclaimed selfie queen, Maris also loves shooting snaps of herself, but rarely are these photos uploaded, she says.
Inigo, also a media-savvy celeb, uses his social media to connect with his fans. But beyond simply uploading photos and messages, he uses his favorite Vivo phone as a tool for his craft. “I use my phone, actually, to write songs. When an idea or tune pops up in my head, I record them. The phone also comes in handy when I’m taking videos and editing them. I like taking photos and keeping them as memories,” he smiles.
On Maris: Yellow draped dress by edit
The two 21-year-olds may look like doe-eyed teens, but their visions for their careers and futures are clear.
This 2019, Inigo is focused on finishing his sophomore album, with several collaborations with big-name artists in the pipeline. He’s also aiming to produce his own music videos, which has him excited.
“The past year, I’ve been so blessed,” he shares. “I was able to tour with my dad as well as Maris. I’ve also traveled the world, but the most meaningful experience (of recent) was realizing how my songs have been received by the public.”
More than garnering the hits and the views, Inigo is proud that his songs have touched the hearts of his listeners. Just this year, he got to meet one of his young fans, a 14-year-old girl suffering from leukemia. “I visited her sa hospital and she sang my lyrics: ‘Dahil sa’yo ako’y matapang, dahil sayo ako’y lalaban.” The song was initially written as a love song, however, Inigo saw how his music transformed into an anthem of hope and strength for someone battling such a serious illness.
On Inigo: Floral velour jacket by Rodel Briñas and floral embroidered dress by Marikit
“Parang when I was writing the song, hindi ko naman naisip na ganu’n ‘yung meaning. I realized how music truly has the power to move and touch the soul.” That encounter sparked a fire in his spirit” and made him realize one thing: “this is what wanna do.”
Maris, an artist herself who once dubbed as the "Singing Sunshine ng Davao” on PBB, shares the same appreciation for the profound power of music. But for the coming year, she sees herself working harder on her craft as an actress.
Soon, her fans will see her on the small screen acting alongside JM de Guzman and Arci Muñoz for a new teleserye. “For me, and for now, mas matimbang sa akin ‘yung acting,” reveals Maris. “That doesn’t mean na tatalikuran ko ‘yung music, but my focus for this year is really acting. I love portraying characters of substance.” And her goal for 2019? To win a best actress award.
This coming year, the two stars are definitely not holding back, and are working toward bigger, loftier goals. “And why shouldn’t we dream bigger?” asks Inigo. “All of this was just a dream before. I was just singing in my bathroom, and Maris was just doing covers of her favorite songs. But now, look how far we’ve come. So regardless of what others say, dreams do come true.” And they’re proud proof of it.
Their journey to stardom may have begun like a romantic comedy, but it has unfolded into a real, inspiring, and feel-good coming-of-age story. And we’re excited for what’s next in the new chapter of their ever-evolving story.
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Seven Barretto
Creative direction by Butchie Peña
Makeup by Albert Kurniawan (Maris) and grooming by Jay Herrera (Inigo)
Hairstyling by Francis Guintu (Maris)
Styling by Ryuji Shiomitsu (Maris) and Aaron Mangsat (Inigo)
Shoot Assistant: Cara Tirona