Iñigo Pascual on Maris Racal, his dreams, and living under Piolo's shadow

MANILA, Philippines – 2017 has been good to Iñigo Dôminic Pascual. Following the success of his smash hit "Dahil Sa’Yo," which dominated the Billboard Philippines charts for weeks, Iñigo has been working non-stop and he couldn’t be more thankful.

When Rappler caught up with Iñigo, he was bombarded with questions about his rumored girlfriend Pinoy Big Brother alum Maris Racal. What was supposed to be a press conference for his first solo concert turned into what felt like a never-ending interrogation about his personal life. But he took everything in stride.

“Exclusively talking means we’re each other’s special person, we’re each other’s special someone,” Iñigo says of his relationship with Maris.

A little more than friends but not necessarily dating. It’s confusing, but trust me when I say it’s a standard millennial answer.

A quick Google search will tell you almost everything you need to know about Iñigo and Maris’ relationship. They talk about each other in almost every interview but know when to hold back to keep people guessing.

Nevertheless, Iñigo made one thing clear: he’s off the market. “You want to know if the other person’s interested [in] somebody else. Gusto mo malaman s’yempre kung ikaw lang ba yung kinakausap nung tao. So para sa amin (You want to know, of course if you're the only one that person is talking to. So for us), I told her, I’m talking to you. I’m not seeing anybody else.”

Since they have such public lives, it’s understandable that Iñigo wanted to protect whatever’s left of the little privacy they have. Naysayers may claim this is just another publicity stunt to get people talking, but we still like to think he’s just as protective and cautious as the next guy when it comes to matters of the heart.

“Nowadays, everyone just jumps into relationships and I don’t wanna do that… We’re both very young. I say this all the time: we don’t want to rush things. Mahirap na ‘yung i-rush tapos it might not end well (It's hard to rush it and then it might not end well).”

At the end of the day, Iñigo is just grateful to have met a kindred spirit in Maris.

“It’s like I’m talking to myself. When I talk to her, it’s like she just gets me… We get along so well, it’s crazy! Every conversation that we have, alam mo yung excited kayo magka-usap (you know you're excited to talk to each other).”

Merong isang time na (there was one time that) we were just laying down by the pool area. We were just looking at the stars. It’s nice to have someone that shares the same energy as you but also shares the same interests. Tahimik, ine-enjoy lang ‘yung moment (We were quiet, just enjoying the moment). I’m the type of person to slow things down. I like to just appreciate the moment and I see that in her," he said.

"Mahirap kasi i-explain sa iba ‘yun, na you just appreciate the moment right now…[With her], hindi ko na kailangang i-explain, she just gets it. She gets what I have to say (It's hard to explain to others that you just appreciate the moment right now. With her I don't need to explain, she just gets it. She gets what I have to say)," he added.

Under his father's shadow?

Model-slash-musician-slash-actor is almost always the standard path for kids with celebrity parents. Being Piolo Pascual’s kid has definitely opened doors for Iñigo, but at the beginning of his career, people had their doubts if Iñigo could be more than just the younger Pascual.

After all, it’s easy to get caught in your parents' shadow, but what’s harder is waking up and forcing yourself to move. Despite his achievements, inevitably, Iñigo still gets questions about his father. Still, tirelessly, he answers them without skipping a beat.

“He always tells me na natutuwa siya (he feels happy) everytime he encounters people that would talk about me. Sabi niya (he said), it’s a blessing whenever I hear good things about you.”

“Having my dad support me. Masaya ako (I'm happy). Having him by my side every step of the way means the world to me. Dati ayaw niya akong mag-artista (before, he didn't want me to be in showbiz) and all that, now he’s there, watching me do my thing. We did the TFC (The Filipino Channel) show together," he said.

"First time ko mag-TFC (to be on TFC) abroad and while I was perfoming, he was just staring. It brings joy. I’m making my parents proud and that’s something na every son dreams of, to make their father, to make their parents, proud.”

'Perfect timing'

Iñigo has been in the industry for 3 years. It’s still relatively short compared to other artists but during those years, he experienced a lot of ups and downs. Self-doubt crept in but he decided to let go and trust the process.

Totoo po ‘yung perfect timing. Totoo po yung magtiwala ka lang sa proseso kasi di mo malalaman na iba pala talaga yung mabibigay sayo pag nagtiwala ka lang (It's true that there is such a thing as perfect timing. It's true that you just have to trust in the process, becuase you don't know what might be given to you if you just trust),” he said modestly.

Early this month, Iñigo reached a milestone in his music career when he was tapped to perform the Philippine version of “Remember Me,” the theme song of Disney Pixar’s Coco. (WATCH: Iñigo Pascual sings PH version of Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ theme)

According to him, this achievement only inspired him to take his career further. Maybe even outside the Philippines, if given the chance.

“Being able to be able to work with Disney-Pixar… it’s something that I’ll be carrying on for the rest of my life… I hope I'll be able to sing it for the whole world, not just for Asia. I want to show that we are capable.”

“BTS is first KPOP [group] to perform at the AMAs. I want Filipinos to be able to do that – and they sang a Korean song! Para sa akin, gusto kong kumanta ng Tagalog song sa AMAs (For me, I want to sing a Tagalog song at the AMAs).”

Catch Iñigo Pascual’s first solo concert, Dahil Sa’Yo: A Thanksigiving Concert, on December 1 at the Music Museum. – Rappler.com