Mikey Bustos wants to savor “every moment life has to offer, looking for the silver lining with every hardship” and following his “heart’s desires no matter how strange.” Bustos rap, sing and dance, to share the “Pinoy” customs and Filipino life, worldwide to his YouTube followers. “Pinoy” is a word that identifies with the culture of the Filipino people and the Filipinos living overseas, in the Filipino diaspora.
Bustos is proud that he is a Canadian Filipino currently living in Manila, Philippines. At 35, Bustos looks younger than his age, almost boyish looking with an ever-present smile. He shaved his head to prove that it doesn’t take a full head of hair to be funny. Born in 1981 to Filipino parents in the Weston neighborhood of Toronto, Canada, his mother worked at a hospital and his dad built airplanes. Raised by strict parents who upheld “Filipino values,” Bustos learned to embrace his Filipino heritage and being Filipino is what makes him, who he is.
Bustos began performing and singing since he was a child. At 5 years old, his mom booked him at a Filipino wedding to sing “Eternal Flame by The Bangles.” Ever since then, Bustos has been honing his craft, a song at a time, and launched his career when he appeared on the first season of “Canadian Idol” in 2003. The Canadian native placed seventh in the finals. Post “Canadian Idol,” he toured and performed throughout Canada at top venues then moved to Queens and Manhattan (New York City) in 2004, collaborating and recording with acclaimed producer Glenn Swan of the renowned Chung King Studios. One year later, Bustos released his debut extended play entitled “Love Me Again.” It was produced by Brent Bodrug of B-Group Music, who previously had worked with Alanis Morissette, Jack Soul, and Sugar Jones. Back in the spotlight, in 2006, Bustos toured the U.S. performing in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. He was the front act for the Pussycat Dolls and the front act for Christina Aguilera, in the Philippines.
He released a music video for his single “If It Feels Good Then We Should” from his debut solo album in 2008 “Memoirs of a Superhero.” In 2009, Bustos’ single “If It Feels Good Then We Should” reached Top 20 for multiple weeks on Canadian mainstream radio, as well as Top 2 Music Video on the California Music Channel in the US. His single “All I Need Is Me” was also played at Footlocker Stores nationwide. Under Bustos Entertainment Inc., he signed with Universal Music/North Fontana Distribution in May 2009.
2010, Bustos was nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Adult Contemporary category. His song “Everytime My Heart Beats” from his debut album “Memoirs of a Superhero” since its release has become a YouTube phenomenon. Bustos was also involved in musical theater projects including a starring role in the Summerworks production of Prison Dancer: The Musical.
Over the years, Bustos became a celebrity endorser in the Philippines for global brands like Samsung, Nescafe, Xoom, Globe, Acer, Lazada, Gold’s Gym, Cebu Pacific Air, Standard Appliances, and others. He was the face of the popular Mang Juan Chicharron/Shingaling/Korniks snacks TV commercials. His advertisements for Chicharron ni Mang Juan ran on Philippine television on all major networks nationwide. Bustos has worked with international brands and corporations, including Walt Disney Pictures, Al Gore, and the NBA through viral video collaborations.
Today, the forces that made Bustos a social media sensation since starting his YouTube Channel “Mikey Bustos,” over a decade ago, is a combination of all his skills combined, including comic relief, acting and singing, allowing him to garner over 75 million views and still counting. His YouTube videos cover a wide range of topics including Filipino tutorials such as eating Balut (duck embryo), Filipino courting, Filipino dining and Filipino parodies — parodying pop hits — with a Filipino flavor. In “Circumcising Me” he relates the Filipino tradition of circumcising men between the ages of 8 and 10 years old. Bustos other YouTube channel, AntsCanada, is scientific in nature, where he uploads videos of his personal ant colonies and ant keeping tutorials. His most popular 2016 ant videos were fire ants of “The Fire Nation” planning an escape and the other video (featured on National Geographic website) was a live cockroach, eaten alive, while giving birth.
Bustos started AntsCanada in 2009 to promote keeping ants as pets. It was a “simple and enjoyable” hobby while promoting “ant awareness” and “conservation.” Setting up an ant colony enclosure (called a formicarium) and keeping an ant colony can be challenging but Bustos enjoys his pets due to the ingenious ability of his ant colony to function as a unit. His foray into entrepreneurship has been a success with AntsCanada shipping ant farms and ant-keeping supplies worldwide. AntsCanada main office is located in Toronto, Canada with its main manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, USA, Beijing, China, and Manila, Philippines.
Bustos continues his quest for world domination by making guest appearances on TV, radio, and the internet while organizing his ants empire.
Asia World Media (AWM): Who are your role model(s)?
Mikey Bustos (MB): The YouTuber Superwomen. Impactful pop musicians like Lady Gaga, phenomenal singers like Christina Aguilera and Michael Jackson.
AWM: When did you realize you had this gift to entertain?
MB: I believed I was about 29 when I discovered people found me funny. In a weird way, comedy found me. Before my Filipino videos, I was a serious musician/singer/songwriter with no interest in comedy at all. It took one viral video to forge me into the world of making people laugh. I am totally grateful to have stumbled so randomly into YouTube comedy.
AWM: What was it like when you discovered your talent for the first time?
MB: I felt like Spiderman when he first discovered his powers. I began swinging from buildings and spinning worldwide webs!!! It is such a great feeling to make others laugh. I feel like a bird flying when I am making people happy.
AWM: Did you attend acting school?
MB: I took a few acting coaching sessions by a great man named Lewis Baumander, but it left me feeling like I was a terrible actor. I just didn’t have the skill and I don’t know how suddenly acting became a thing for me after that FILIPINO ACCENT TUTORIAL. Life is funny.
AWM: Do you like all the attention you’re getting?
MB: It’s ok. I feel the same. When people come running at me shouting my name I have moments where I have to figure out if it is a relative or one of my online followers.
AWM: What is your favorite performance type?
MB: I’m not sure. My act is kind of different and strange. It’s like Lady Gaga meets Ace Ventura meets the Philippines. I think people get freaked out during the portion of my show when I sing a serious song. I think they have a moment where they say to themselves “Woah. He can sing?” I even sing opera. The show is designed to give a little bit of everything whether you’re a kid, a comedy lover, a music lover, a lover of Filipino culture, etc…
AWM: Did your music talent provide you with enough money to live on?
MB: Music business alone didn’t provide enough money, though so it was hard and eventually the Canadian Idol craze wore off. There were times when I performed at nearly empty bars and venues. Those were the days I “paid my dues,” so to speak. Living off $200 a show which took ages to book, simply wasn’t cutting it. Thankfully my parents allowed me to live with them when living alone in Montreal didn’t work out for me. Then a ray of hope: YouTube. I resolved to start a YouTube channel hoping to be discovered as a musician. I promised to upload 1 video every day in 2011 and prayed 1 would go viral. I uploaded vlogs, music, and one day I uploaded a random comedy skit called FILIPINO ACCENT TUTORIAL and that was the video that changed my life forever. I had gone viral yes, but as a comedian and actor, [both skills that I had]I thought I was horrible at. Today, I have a very fulfilling career and it is enough for me to make a good living.
AWM: What were your Best and Worst experience as a public performer?
MB: Best would probably be performing for Manila YouTube FanFest last year. There was something about that show that solidified things in my mind on so many levels. I felt one with the universe and God in that moment. Worst would probably be anytime I forget the lyrics on stage which happens every now and then.
AWM: What do you do when you are not working?
MB: One way I boost my endurance and stamina – to handle the 2 hour concerts, traveling, sleeplessness and video making – is by working out at the gym. I didn’t pay my dues by staying in college and I have been broke most of my life so I’m now a workaholic and a big saver/investor. Even on days when I am “off” I do what I love to do, which is work. Working is really play for me because I live it so much. Working has become my norm and “YES” I do feel like a normal person.
AWM: Who is on the Mikey Bustos’ Production Team?
MB: My manager and business partner RJ Garcia is the force you don’t see behind what I do. I also have an amazing team: cameraman Jaycee Garcia, makeup/wardrobe Likhain Productions, music producer Steve Hollywood, sound studio engineers Sumata Sounds, a digital agent Alma Cala, a US concert booking agent Kristine Denight, and of course a wonder woman helper and assistant Elsie.
AWM: Do you have a special person in your life?
MB: In YouTube land, where I am currently based, I am married to a beautiful wife named Michelle Dela Cruz Bustos and we have a son named Baby Miguel Antonio. We have been married for five (5) years now.
AWM: What advice would Mikey Bustos give to his 18-year-old self?
MB: Don’t give up. Learn at every challenge. Get better. Sacrifice. Work your butt off. Get better at what you do. Adapt. Most of all, believe in yourself. You will get noticed eventually, even if it takes ages. You will have tons of failures along the way but get used to it because it’s part of the success process. Also, cut out all habits and mindsets that don’t help your dreams.
AWM: Any last thoughts?
MB: For anyone who has watched my videos or come to my shows “thank you for saving my life…literally.” I love you guys so much and take none of you for granted. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
By Asia World Media Writer – Original Content
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