With a plethora of talents and interests, Nadine Lustre remains a modern day renaissance woman. And she uses her gifts to bring everyone forward with her.
Nadine Lustre was just asked how she would describe herself as an artist now as opposed to five years ago, and that one word answer flew out of her mouth—followed immediately by laughter. “I mean, I think I’m getting somewhere. I never really know what I’m doing to be honest. And I still don’t know what I want to do,” she admits.
Forgive the celebrity’s candor. Actually, don’t. She isn’t apologizing for her disposition, and rightfully so. “I don’t feel bad about it, and I’m not ashamed of it. It’s okay. It’s what makes things exciting, you know. It’s what makes me excited. Kasi if I plan everything, wala ng excitement,” she says. “I don’t know. I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I think I’m doing something.”
Not exactly knowing her next steps does not equate to analysis paralysis. For Lustre, the curiosities she wants to follow are plentiful. “There are so many things that I want to do in life. I still want to do acting. I still want to do music. I want to do flower arranging. I want to do artwork. I want to be a full-fledged environmentalist. But the thing is, I only have one body,” the 29-year-old says. “And these things, they take time, especially with my craft, my music, my acting. It’s like a muscle that you have to keep working out. Sometimes I get so busy; well, not sometimes. I’m always busy. So I don’t really have time to do arts and crafts, which is something that I really want to do.”
Still, success always seems to manage to make its way to her despite the uncertainty. She maintains a highly-visible online presence, brands continue to gravitate to her, and her ability to topbill a project remains strong. Her holiday film, the Mikhail Red-helmed thriller Deleter, for example, was the top grossing entry during the 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival.
In the last few years, she also expanded in other ways. In 2022, Nadine started setting down roots in Siargao, the teardrop-shaped island off Tacloban that is a favorite among the surfing set. The move isn’t permanent, but with loved ones (including her French-Filipino boyfriend Christopher Bariou) there, she considers the destination home.
“I go back and forth. I’m there when I have down time. And I love being in Siargao just because the city life is so different,” she says. “When I’m in Siargao everything is so simple, I’m always dressed down. How I see myself is I’m not ‘Nadine the celebrity,’ I’m Nadine, a person or human being, you know. It’s completely different from how I see myself while I’m in Manila.”
There, Lustre regains the energy she needs to pursue everything she wants to pursue. “That’s honestly where I charge my creative bar. I’m really blessed that I have that escape because not a lot of people have that,” she says. “I wanted to take care of myself this year. I made a big leap by moving, or having my own space on the island.”
But when she spent an entire month there, she first found the thought of loosening up a little unnerving. “It was really scary, actually. It was really scary because it was something that I wasn’t used to. I’m not used to relaxing,” she admits. “A lot of my life has been grind, grind, grind, grind, grind, work, shoots, events, performing, you get what I mean? The artista life. I’m used to that life.”
Siargao, eventually and expectedly, won her over. “You know it’s not difficult to fall in love with the island. I really wanted to work on myself. I really wanted to finally do all the things I wanted to do. Be where I want to be,” Lustre shares. While saying that she still likes the grind, she says that she “really wanted to take care of myself. I wanted to take care of my mental health. I wanted to do something that I want. Or I want to be somewhere where I want. I’m really trying my best to balance island and city life.”
That passion for the island was on display when that new home was struck by Typhoon Odette in December of 2021, Nadine didn’t wait around for things to be better before she returned. She raced back, enduring everything from a six-hour ride on a small fisherman’s boat to navigating around debris in almost pitch black darkness. “The next day [I saw] there was nothing left. Like all of the plants were destroyed. Even when you go out the street. Everything was destroyed. All of the coconut trees, like the leaves, were on the ground. Parang wala talagang natira,” she recounts. “Sabi ko nga parang someone dropped a bomb on the whole island.”
Today, she says that many of the businesses continue to rebuild although not all have returned. “But the island is good now, there are a lot of tourists, everything is busy, good,” Nadine explains. “I’m just happy that even after the storm, people are still game to visit the island.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Lustre has become enamored with island living as she is known to be a lover of nature. Of late, she has adopted the stance of an eco warrior, advocating for a more disciplined lifestyle and a mindfulness for the world around us. This resolve was solidified when she watched David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet.
“When I watched the documentary, my heart was really broken. It was so difficult to watch,” she shares. “I just realized that maybe there’s something that I could do. It’s kind of like the hummingbird story. You kind of know that the world is burning, so somehow you want to do your part. So that’s exactly how I felt.”
Last year, the actress partnered with Bioten, MAD Travel, and For The Future for a decades-long reforestation project in Yangil, Zambales. MAD Travel is also teaching the tribes and communities around the area ways on how to be more self-sustaining. “[They are] teaching them how to plant. They do tours there as well. So, so far so good,” she explains.
Apart from the environment, Nadine also has other advocacies she feels strongly about. “One thing that I’m always thinking about it, but probably very difficult, would be animal welfare. It’s something that I kinda want to work on before. I’ve talked to a couple of people already, but I think it’s… parang malayo pa,” she says. “If a lot of people probably work on it, or probably if it’s supported by the government, it probably could, you know, could go a long way. For the moment, I don’t think it’s really a priority, which is really sad. I think we should also think about not just ourselves but also the animals.”
Mental health is also close to her heart. Lustre is a partner of MindYou, which creates safe spaces within workplaces. “Currently, business-to-business yung services as of now. But we are working toward a Business-to-Consumers naman. I think it’s really important kasi it’s hard to access mental health services here in the Philippines,” she says. “I’ve had a bad experience na din with a psychiatrist. You know, it’s really hard to find someone who is okay to talk to. Or someone who is capable. It’s really expensive. So what MindYou is aiming to do is make mental health services accessible and cheaper.”
In the beginning
It is fitting that Lustre is the muse for this spread, which was shot in Sydney by BJ Pascual, who, like her, is a combination of youthful exuberance with the portfolio of a grizzled veteran.
It features pieces from Gucci’s cruise line Cosmogonie, Alessandro Michelle’s penultimate collection before he left his post as creative head of the Italian luxury house. The idea for the line came to him after reading an essay by Hannah Arendt on fellow philosopher Walter Benjamin.
“The German Jewish philosopher and cultural critic whose library was confiscated by the Gestapo, leaving him unable to access the great repository of knowledge he had collected over the years,” explains Chloe Chou in an article for Vogue India.
By definition, “Cosmogonie” pertains to the theory of the universe’s origins. But it is what happens after, in the slow spread after the proverbial big bang, in the filling out of the universe’s dark corners that realizes the concept fully. This is reflected in these clothes and last year’s presentation in Castel del Monte in Puglia, Italy, showing progression through generations.
This same expansive energy is what makes the uncertainty Nadine is feeling full of promise. It drives her forward, and emphasizes her dislike of ‘settling.’ “It applies to a lot of different things also. Yung ‘puwede na yan. Okay na yan.’ Parang it applies to little things in the house, between friends, work. But also when it comes to our country that we’re being treated this way. You know what I mean? Parang ganyan na yan eh so hayaan na natin. Yung ganong ugali,” she says. “We should never just take it. I have that attitude and I really hate it sometimes.”
At this point, Nadine is just thinking about what she would try out next. “I’m really just exploring and seeing what works for me. I mean there is no harm done in doing it you know. Better that I tried than not, than regret na ‘sana pala I did it pala’ and regret,” she says.
And being in this happy flux is not a bad place to be. Just as the universe expands after a chaotic start, a direction is eventually found in being unsettled. Simply: with questions asked comes growth, with uncertainty comes evolution.
Fashion Director Pam Quiñones. Stylist: Carlos Mangubat. Makeup: Jelly Eugenio. Hair Stylist: Paul Nebres. Florist: Joselle Faustino Castañer of Jos Curates. Cinematographer: Tavis Pinnington. Photographer’s Assistant: Katrina Cognito. Stylist’s Assistant: Sophie Torrini.