While clearly still in the thick of an exuberant youth, Bailey May shapes up and grows into the latest chapter of his life, one that is by all accounts a precedent for the rest of his life
It is fairly easy to antagonize the young’uns, what with their seemingly reckless exuberance, boundless energy, hard-to- keep-up dynamism and clear disdain for the structure and responsibilities that are part and parcel to coming of age. “They’re just young,” you utter, most of the time in a dismissive tone as you watch them go about their fun and fancy free, as if nothing good will come out of their youth. Sure, you might (this being an operative word) know much more, having navigated life’s labyrinth of highs, lows and an insane linger of limbo-like stages, but that doesn’t necessarily make you better than they are. Remember, you were young once, too.
While the rest trudged their way to the tucked out boutique hotel on a holiday declared weekday, practically dragging their feet up the elevator with baggages (read: the literal and figurative), the youngest one in the room burst into the scene with a sense of cheer that for its sheer candor and genuine warmth, drove away any impending yawns that were earlier threatening to sing in a monotonous chorus all throughout the day. Despite the overcast of a dull and dreary gray that hung over the sky, a wash of torrential rain on the brink of giving way to the call of gravity, Bailey May is bright and bouncy. No, really, he was bouncing on the bed, climbing on the sink and playfully screaming at the phone for his order of food—all for an engaging shot. He would break into a laugh not too long after, reminding everyone present that despite his physical form molding itself to a fully realized and more grown-up state, he was and still is pretty much a kid at heart.
Watching everything from a safe distance, you begin to wonder how and why we are expecting the world from these kids who for the time being are simply enjoying life as they know it. And more often than not, in the blueprint of (sometimes unfair) expectations, we fail to see beyond the surface, which later will reveal a fair share of trials and tribulations that are for their tender age have them already shaken to their core.
“Yeah, I moved to England without knowing any English. It was a crazy move. So, I went to school and I didn’t really talk to anyone. I was like, kind of mute. I didn’t understand what they were saying to me,” professes Bailey May as he recounts his early childhood in a video introducing him as the member of the fresh global pop act set to take over the world. “Obviously, I felt different from the other people; I felt secluded.”
This can prove to be very tough, especially to someone barely figuring out the ways of the world during the all too crucial formative years. The young Bailey retreated from a former self, watching his new life unfold from the outer edges of a much different landscape. While this isn’t necessarily a foreign concept, especially in an era where movement and change are the currencies that people exchange on the daily, this served as a precedent for him to seek out ways to acclimate to his foreseeable future. “Then, my uncle introduced me to football. From there, I played football and it helped me blend in with the other kids. It helped me learn English and the traits of being English, if you know what I mean?”
The sport, an English favorite, would not only prove to be helpful, but it ignited a newfound love that eventually became his focus. “All I really wanted to do with my life was to proceed and become a professional football player. So, I went for trials…I didn’t get to that. Yeah, that really let me down. So, I was like, what am I going to do?” This was a heartbreak by all means, as something so close to him, including a long-held dream, was being taken away from him. “I remember when I was a kid; I was drawing myself with a football kit with a Filipino flag on it,” he continues. While that never materialized as he had imagined, life had other plans for him. And unknown to Bailey May then, the path he would be led to would reveal itself to be the real life-changer.
MUSIC IN HIM
Music was always part of Bailey May’s life. From the drum kit his father gave him as a child, to the songs that filled their homes in Cebu and later on in England, it was always just there as far as he knew. “My parents, they’ve been singing their whole lives. It’s been their main job since they were young. I think they sort of passed it on to me. I would always hear them sing and that inspired me as well,” he relates. The constant tossing of hums, lyrics and rhythm would bridge his frustrations to a future unknown yet to him.
“In 2015, my dad asked me if I could sing 30 seconds of a song of my choice, so he could show my family if I could sing or not,” recalls Bailey. “For a year I was hesitant. I didn’t want to do it.” But as we know by now, one cannot argue or put a stopper to what destiny has planned. Try as you may, what is meant to be will be.
That year-long tug-of-war would eventually become a viral hit once released to the public through subsequent cover videos on YouTube, which later on led him to trying his luck back home in the Philippines for Pinoy Big Brother. From there, things really kicked off for Bailey, as his stint on the long- running reality TV show gave him an opportunity to pursue a career in show business.
“I joined showbiz to be a performer—to sing and dance,” he tells us in earnest. His early success aside and rising fame aside, he came face-to-face with the fact that the profession he was working on was laden with trials and challenges at every turn of a corner. “There has been a lot, but maybe being just in showbiz itself [is the biggest] challenge already.”
AND NOW, THE WORLD
Despite that, he began drawing up a fervent dream he hoped would one day ring true. But even he wasn’t truly convinced of it yet; especially since it was bigger than everything he had chalked up before. Apparently, even breaking into the industry, this was something that was already building in his mind. “Yes, since PBB I always looked at and dreamt of going international,” he says. “The idea came in my head, but I was like, ‘If only it could happen.’ I didn’t really have faith in myself at that time. Because like, I thought it was impossible,” he admits to Boy Abunda in an interview. “How could someone like me get the opportunity to go [international] when there are hundreds of other artists?”
So, when the possibility to audition to be part of the pioneering and revolutionary global pop act that Simon Fuller was assembling came about (which was brought about by a fateful call by the Now United team to Star Magic), Bailey May chucked out all hesitations and self-doubt at the door and jumped at the chance to take a stab at it. “That’s what I’ve been praying for, this is an opportunity I cannot miss,” he says of his initial thoughts on what would become Now United.
What followed were a series of try-outs, workshops and boot camps that weeded out the hopefuls from the stars. This saw him working harder than he had ever done up until that point, pushing himself vocally and even rhythmically as a dancer. “I saw everyone and told myself: I have to work harder,” he says. Finally, when it all came down to it and the band was being picked, Bailey May fell silent. “My heart dropped and I was like, ‘This is it. All this work I put in, is it worth it?’”
It sure was, because after a long and arduous process that spanned the world, Bailey May was officially inducted as a member of Now United, proudly representing the Philippines. “When I first heard that I was going to be part of Now United, I couldn’t believe it. I just got a rush of adrenaline. The thing that excites me is the fact that this is the first time being done in history. And just the message: to spread positivity,” he muses before adding: “It feels great and a privilege to be able to represent the Philippines.”
TAKING THE FUTURE
It could prove to be overwhelming, to be thrust with such a hefty realization of dreams at such an early age, but Bailey May is taking it all in great stride— one that is laced with a playful wink and nod that is requisite for his age. “To be honest, it’s kind of chill and easy for me because [this] has been a dream of mine for a long time. I know all the responsibilities I have to do and I find it easy because I’m doing what I love,” he reasons.
Practically begging to be asked, we wonder if it has crossed his mind how fleeting life is these days can be, where anything and everything can be taken away from you at a moment’s notice. Acknowledging this dynamic of the contemporary generation, he isn’t at all fazed by what could be, assuring that he will keep on keeping on, especially with something he has persisted and persevered for. “I’ll just carry on at being who I am and working hard,” he says. “I’m just going to go with the flow and it if it’s meant to be, it’ll never be taken away from me.”
With his future packed with possibilities and opportunities, he is all but raring and ready to get in on the grind full throttle. Aware of how it will only get more challenging from here on out, he pulls out his youth card, banking on the optimism this stage of life accords. “I think it’s going to be a good future for me if I keep doing well at what I do. And it’s the same for everyone, if they follow their dreams, they will have a good future, too.”
Perhaps without totally knowing it, let alone noticing it, Bailey May stacked up points on the maturity scale in this exchange. Clearly still in the thick throes of youth, there already lies a good sense of what could potentially be. And by every indication, his future has already taken fine form today.
Videography and editing by Ian Francisco of New Monarq Creativx