As a contestant on Pinoy Boyband Superstar, Mark Oblea was called the “Kwelang Bad Boy ng Bacoor.” But while it’s true that he got into his fair share of trouble when he was younger, he isn’t all bad. The truth is, under his leather jacket and tough demeanor beats the heart of a responsible, softhearted young man.
Case in point: when Mark was eliminated during the grand finals of the show, his first thought wasn’t for himself or the opportunity he lost. It was for his family. His burning desire to give his mother and siblings a better life was the main reason he joined the competition in the first place. “Sila talaga ang nasa isip ko the whole time na lumalaban ako,” Mark says.
His thoughts also went to his mother who had been a struggling single parent. Mark promised her he’ll take on the responsibility of being the breadwinner for their family. It was then that Mark decided to establish a showbiz career. He believed doing so was the fastest way to secure his family’s future. However, finding success as a performer proved to be harder than he thought it would be. Mark went on many auditions but he always came away empty-handed. He also performed whenever and wherever he could, booking gigs at town fiestas and the like.
Mark also tried his luck at an open auditions for reality shows and talent searches. Eventually, he realized he might have to give up on his showbiz dream to seek his fortune in a different industry. As much as he wanted to become a performer, Mark could no longer ignore the fact that his family needed him. “Dumating ako sa point na gusto ko na mag-quit sa pag try sa pag-aartista kasi hindi kami stable financially. Sinabi rin ng nanay ko sa akin na baka hindi para sa akin ang showbiz. Hindi naman kami nagkaroon ng intense na away about it, pero ang sakit sa akin na umabot na sa ganun, na kinailangan na niya akong sabihan ng ganun. Pero alam kong tama siya.”
Despite the challenges, Mark chose to hold on to the value of education. A graduate of De La Salle University Dasmariñas, where he studied Hotel and Restaurant Management, Mark applied as a flight attendant. Thankfully, just as he was about to turn his back on showbiz forever, fate suddenly smiled upon him. “Sinabi ko sa Mom ko na maghahanap nalang ako ng ibang trabaho, kaya nag-apply na ako sa PAL. Tapos bigla kong napanood yung commercial para sa Pinoy Boyband Superstar,” he recalls.
But because he himself had started to feel beaten down by all the times he had been rejected, Mark didn’t jump at the chance to audition for the show. He hemmed and hawed about it for a while until he decided to ask God what he should do. He prayed for a sign.
“At that time, yung kagustuhan kong pumasok sa showbiz medyo wala na. Hindi na ako kasing eager ng dati dahil ilang beses na akong na-reject. Sabi ko sasarili ko noon, ‘Ayoko na. Mag-pa-PAL nalang ako.’ Pero naisip ko rin kasi na sayang kung hindi ko susubukan. Eh kaso hindi ko naabutan yung audition sa Alabang, and sabi nila yun na daw yung last. So nagdasal ako. Sabi ko kay Lord, ‘Kung para po sa akin ito, magkakaroon pa po ng isa pang audition.’ Lo and behold, a few days later Mark heard there would be another open audition for Pinoy Boyband Superstar at the Lucky Chinatown Mall. “Nagulat ako,” he says of that moment.
“Sabi ko, ito na yung sign na hinahanap ko. Kaya nagpunta na ako.”
Mark braved a thunderstorm to go all the way to Binondo to try his luck one last time. When he got to the Lucky Chinatown Mall, he was wet from head to toe, so he freshened up in a restroom first. But just before his audition, he decided to approach it differently this time around. “Yung way na nag-audition ako hindi na katulad nung dati,” he says. “Kung kausapin ko yung staff parang tambay lang ako. Nung pinakanta nila ako, kinanta ko yung ‘Simpleng Tulad Mo.’ Pinasayaw din nila ako, so sayaw naman ako. Pero sa totoo lang, hindi na ako kasing gigil nung dati. Chill nalang ako.”
Mark’s nonchalance may have caught the staff’s eye because soon after he got home, they told him he made it to the next round. Instead of jumping up and down with excitement, Mark considered skipping it. He didn’t want to set himself up for further disappointment in case he didn’t make the cut. But after a close friend gave him a pep talk, he went ahead and auditioned for the show’s judges—Aga Muhlach, Sandara Park, Vice Ganda and Yeng Constantino. The rest, as they say, is history.
When Mark didn’t make it into the group that was eventually named BoybandPH, disappointment, fear, and yes, a little bit of envy threatened to swallow him whole. But he got over it when he realized how fortunate he was to have made it as far as he did.
“Nakaramdam ako ng disappointment, and siyempre natakot din ako kasi hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa akin. Eventually naging happy ako sa mga nakapasok. Deserving naman sila. Saka nung binalikan ko lahat, naalala ko na ang hiningi ko lang kay Lord sa simula nung competition was makapasok sa Top 12. Eh higit pa doon ang naabot ko. Nung na-realize ko yun, OK na, nawala na yung sakit. Natanggap ko na yung nangyari.”
That paved the way for other things to come his way. Immediately the day after the Pinoy Boyband Superstar finale, Mark found himself in meetings with talent management Cornerstone Entertainment. Mark has since done two shows for Dreamscape which gave him his first official TV breaks: Wansapanataym titled My Hair Lady and a primetime hit teleserye My Dear Heart both were in a triangle with Loisa Andalio and Jameson Blake. “Forever ako magiging grateful kay Sir Deo and buong Dreamscape family sa tiwala na binigay nila”. After airing of both soaps in July 2017, Mark spent months in honing his music which is his first love. He underwent trainings in vocals, guitars and songwriting. Alongside acting workshops under Nicco Manalo and PETA’s DudzTeraña.
Mark has high hopes for his music. “Gusto kong dumating din ako sa point na kapag narinig ng mga tao yung intro pa lang ng kanta ko, kahit nga yung first few chords pa lang ang nag-pe-play saradyo, magsisigawan na sila. Sobrang solid nun pag nagkataon.” December 2017, Mark got signed by one of the country’s prime record labels – Universal Records. “Dream come true na making part ng iconic na record label. Medyo pressured nung una na mas excited kasi para makasamasa roster ng artists ng Universal di ba? Sobrang honored, and also magandang motivation and drive for me to do better ang making bahagi ng UR family”.
Mark released his debut single entitled ‘Langit Pag Nandiyan’ written by Gracenote lead vocalist Eunice Jorge and produced by hit-making producer Ito Rapadas which is performing very well in major digital stores – Apple Music, i-Tunes, Amazon, Deezer and Spotify. Talking about the meaning behind the song, Mark says “The song is about honoring people in your life. It can be a song for a friend, a loved one, a relative, or anyone who’s always there to support you despite different setbacks and challenges. At the same time, it is also a personal anthem for all the people who’ve been a part of my journey to pursue my dreams.” Last May 26, its official music video was premiered on MYX and now enjoying a good rotation on air.
Mark also recorded a remake of “Tabi”, a 2008 original OPM hit by Paraluman. Universal Records did a silent release online and has been receiving an overwhelming response. In less than three weeks, it already gained almost 200k hits on Spotify without announcement and hype, and included in four playlists to date: Men Of OPM, OPM Chillax, Acoustically OPM and Pinoy Covers.
Mark also penned a couple of original songs that will be included in his EP that’s slated for release on the third quarter of the year. “Masaya ako na nakapasa sa UR ang mga origs ko. Excited ako sa kung paano sila iaarrange ulit ni Sir Ito.” There’s a track too from his co-Cornerstone artist who eventually became his good friend. Frontman of iconic OPM band Callalily Kean Cipriano. “Nagkakilala kami dahil sa Cornerstone. Pareho kami ng handler,” he explains. “Eventually niyaya ako ni Kean pumunta sa bahay niya. Hindi ako makapaniwala. Pinapakinggan ko lang yung mga kanta niya dati, and ngayon kaya ko na siyang i-reach anytime kung may mga tanong ako about music and we have plans to collaborate too. Sobrang astig.”
2018 is a brighter year for Mark for having bagged the following exciting projects : Task Us’ leadman in their very first 6-part web series, an upcoming guesting in an indie film called “Amats” directed by one of the best names in the industry DirekDondon Santos which is an official entry in 2018 Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino come August, sang one of the sub-theme songs for another indie film “Bakwit Boys” produced by T-Rex Productions called “Fiona”. September 2018, Mark will be seen again nightly in ABS-CBN’s latest primetime teleserye as a regular cast. Having to share the same stage with OPM bands that he used to listen to when he was growing up and was on the road to being a musician, is another dream come true for Mark. He was recently part of Robinson’s OPM Jams series with Spongecola and come June 19, Mark will be fronting for The Dawn at Eastwood Central Plaza for “Rewind Tuesdays.”
Fate smiled upon Mark by pairing him with the right people who are all guiding him on his way to stardom. As long as he works hard and keeps his eye on the sweet and priceless rewards, there will be no stopping him. With his rugged good looks, charm, and musical talent, Mark is bound to win the hearts of many fans worldwide.