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Fear Not Rejection: A Steve Banua Sanchez’ Story

Merell Lystra L. Recta | Feature Writer

Undeniably, there are times in our lives when we just want to give up and live inside an igloo- realize the hermits that we truly are. Life is just so full of burden and negativity that we just want to get out but, there are those people who continue to persevere and work despite the odds being against them. These are the types of people that we can look up to and be inspired by.

He is fearless.

He juggles having double majors, being a cheerleader and a coach of a highschool football team, being a boyfriend, being a seller of supplements in GNC, and being a religious fitness and health enthusiast.

He is Steve.

Born in a small agricultural town near the coast—similar to Dumaguete’s geographical features—Steve Banua Sanchez tells us that success is based on what we want to get out of life. “You’ll never really blossom or flourish if you don’t do something that you really love,” he said.

Unlike other kids who just live their lives as carefree and happy as they can, Steve already had a lot of things and realizations in his mind and these are some of the things that not all his playmates even think about.

Early Life
At a very young age, Steve already knew that he is gay. Blessed to have open-minded parents, he grew up without hearing anything derogatory and hurtful about his sexuality.

Even during the earlier years of his life, Steve already began showing exemplary skills in a lot of areas and not just in his studies. He was always an overachiever but still remained humble and kind.

At the age 14, he started earning a bit for himself by doing photocopies at a photocopier shop. He did this as a part time job and at the same time, he was diligently doing his studies.

He was 15 when he got his driver’s permit and 16 when he finally got his driver’s license. After he got his license, he started driving his own car to and from school, his part time job, and wherever he needed to go.

Thinking that relationships were just an outlet for him to have fun, Steve never thought that the boy he met when he was 15 would be a huge part of his life. This boy became his first serious boyfriend and he shared 10 years of happiness and sadness with this boy.

Despite their relationship being serious and long lasting, his parents still reminded him “Be responsible when you’re dating.”

Sadly, this relationship came to an end as well. This is just an evidence that it is never too late to find happiness in the companion of someone else and that the number of years you spend with someone should not be the one that takes hold of your relationship.

Road to his Career
He had the potential to be able to enroll himself to prestigious school all over the country, but he chose to stay with his parents in California because he thinks he couldn’t have done well if he left the town because the town he lived in was a huge factor as to the his performance in school and his personal life.

He was not just worried for himself but was worried about his parents as well who were immigrants and were submerged in debt that time.

Both of his parents are Filipinos and they migrated to the United States for safety reasons during the ‘70s—the era when Martial Law was implemented in the Philippines. His mother, Celsa Sanchez, was supported by his maternal aunt while his father, Amado Sanchez, migrated together with his siblings. It was in the States that his father and mother met and fell in love.

His father doesn’t want them to be like him who wasn’t able to finish school especially that in their family history, only his mother’s eldest sister focused on studies. Inspired by his father’s words, he was opened to the reality that it is difficult to earn much if you were not able to finish high school.

Still in his hometown, he enrolled in a Master’s Hip Hop Class at the age 22. He felt awkward because most of his classmates in that class were children and he was the only grown man. “

He almost gave up on dancing if it weren’t for his friend who encouraged him to try Polynesian dancing—a dance that encompasses Tahitian, Samoan, Fijian, Maori, Hawaiian and Tongan styles in their dance movements which is very much similar to Disney’s Moana.

“You’re big and brown and most Samoans are big and brown. Why don’ you try it?” asked his friend Elizabeth. Without any hesitations, he joined despite not having a formal training of the dance.

A Successful Career
In 2003, their group, the Polynesian Club of Fresno, competed in the International Tahitifete, a dance competition of San Jose. Their team swept all categories and was the overall champion in that competition. Not only that, Hong Kong Disney’s Imagineers have seen the great potential in their group and were invited to audition for Disney.

Steve worked for Disney from 2004 to2006 mainly as a dancer in a Luau show that performs twice a day. He was also able to work with the cast and crew in the Pirates of the Caribbean because of his guts to audition when they called out for Asian dancers.

He was paid 700 US dollars, was fed, and still got stipend for food. Despite the good pay and generous benefits, his homesickness brought him back home.

“If you have the opportunity to travel, you should,” he advised. He somehow felt regret in his decision to go back because nothing really changed in his hometown. Also, most of his friends back then were still working in Disney at the present either they were at the show or were already promoted as executives.

But Steve is Steve.
A company who had seen him in Youtube, contacted him, and made friends with him in Facebook. He was invited to work with a touring company. He became a part of Adam Sandler’s Bedtime stories. He toured all over US. He was able to produce his own stage show in the company.

He was also the master of the gym. He was the personal fitness trainer of some celebrities such as Charlie Bewley, the actor who portrayed Demetri in the Twilight series, a producer of Avatar, and the costume designer of Adele.

One of his sidelines is doing make-up. He discovered that skill just because he wanted to explore all his capabilities and didn’t fear rejection at all. For just an hour, Mac Cosmetics pays 21 dollars which is roughly a thousand peso. “Bring someone without makeup and I’m going to watch you put make-up on them,” commanded the person-in-charge. Steve thought that even if he didn’t attend a legit lesson on make-up, he believes he is pretty artistic and still excelled in it.

Recently, he is Mr. Silliman International, a psychology student in Silliman University, a dance instructor of Polynesian dancing in MEV Dance Studio. In addition to that, he also has a blooming relationship with his boyfriend for 6 months now and counting.

His Blossoming Love Story
His parents got an early retirement thanks to Steve. They moved back here in the Philippines and Steve continued his studies in Silliman University. He didn’t have trouble adjusting to the environment and to culture but he did experience a personal struggle particularly to how Filipinos react to the LGBT community.

He even found it depressing to look for the significant other here in the Philippines. There was a guy that caught his attention but when he found out that this guy’s profile picture was his girlfriend, it disappointed him somehow.

Interestingly, his current boyfriend was a former Jesuit priest, whom he met on Tinder- a dating app.  Perhaps they are destined for each other because even if they have different paths, they still were destined to meet and fall in love at the crossroad.

Steve is one of those people who have experienced so much despite being young. The secret of it all is that he didn’t fear rejection and he took risks. He is a perfect example that sometimes, you don’t really need a formal education to achieve what you want in life. Your guts is already enough to make yourself visible and excel in whatever things you undertake.

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