Cover Story

Having little to no physical interaction outside the confines of our homes for the past two years or so, with traveling plans foiled and our usual fast-paced daily routines hampered by the threat of the vicious virus, we saw the world got stuck and helpless during the pandemic unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes.

However, technology, more specifically, the Internet, no doubt, has become the primary space for everyone to stay connected to the outside world, or should we say, the idea of a pre-pandemic world that easily became a thing of the past. Nevertheless, this spatial device evolved through time until it has grown into its own diverse dimensions.

Various social media sites were innovated to ensure different intents designed for people’s convenience. We didn’t just have the avenue to have conversations with our personal friends and acquaintances, but we could actually meet, chat with, and watch other people from any part of the world, getting inspired by their stories and admiring their drive to continue in their respective lives.

From vloggers to vertical video creators to online streamers, social media has evolved into a large platform for creativity and connection, providing opportunities for thousands of creators and personalities inhabiting the space to dip their toes into the entertainment industry, along with business opportunities, all while gaining support from their network of supporters, followers, and fans. 

While there are numerous recognized names that are streamed by Filipinos every day, there’s one that is creating a buzz in the online streaming industry and is starting to build his own name through live streaming, specifically on the platform of kumu, in and of itself, the largest social entertainment application in the Philippines that was revolutionized by our own homegrown talent, making it a sanctuary of pure Filipino genius. 

Top & trousers, Nina Amoncio. Mesh top (worn underneath), Proudrace.

Lloyd Garcia is a 29-year old social media figure who’s emerging along with a pool of young and new entertainers and influencers through the said platform. After four months of using and streaming in kumu, Garcia slowly gained followers and supporters who admired and were inspired by him and his content propelling his reputation to new heights.

Before becoming a streamer, Garcia first spent six years as a hotelier, and eventually put himself in the picture of the streaming world while currently working as a strategic planner for a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company.

“I didn’t really expect how things turned out.” Being a shy person, the model-turned-BPO employee hadn’t anticipated how his simple attempt to try the streaming application, driven by his boredom and intention to find someone to have a conversation with, especially at a time of distance and isolation as the pandemic, would soon open another door for him. Influenced by his sister, his brush with kumu was all sorts of divinely ordained.

“Kasi gusto ko lang ng kausap that time, and I have my sister, na ate ate ko, and nagku-kumu siya. Tapos nung time na ‘yon, pinaakyat (invited to join a stream) ako sa isang stream. So, ayun tuloy-tuloy na. I would say na na-discover ako, and now four months na ako on the app,” he recalled. 

Although initially overwhelmed by the extent to which streaming positively impacted his livelihood as well as his personal development, this online streamer recognized the opportunity and eventually became more inspired and motivated for the new career he was embarking on.

By applying his distinctive trait of being a verbose speaker, or to use an easy term, chatty, he triumphed building his hive of supporters, watching and listening to him, even giving him gifts of appreciation and gratitude for being open and genuine as possible as he could be on his streams. Through this, Garcia has undoubtedly found an unexpected safe space.

“It is not really my dream to be a streamer kasi sobrang mahiyain ako and feel ko na wala sa personality ko. But nung nag-stream na ako, ‘yung pagtanggap ng tao sa akin ay sobrang warm talaga at win-elcome talaga nila ako.” 

Streamers usually create their content with attachments or in relation to their personal choices and interests. While others chose to stream themselves playing a game or performing, Garcia chose to just sit down conversing, vlogging, and exhibiting his daily life, expressing his perspectives through narrating stories down to conferring about even the most mundane matters down. Despite his varied hobbies and interests, from reading books to playing computer and mobile games to arts, fashion, designing, and music, his work schedule forced him to stream at night and limited his ability to at least perform but the support never faltered.

Pullover, Proudrace. Overcoat, Nina Amoncio. Trousers, Edwin Tan.

“I usually sing, but most of the time working stream talaga, kasi I’m working at night so sinasabay ko na yung pagku-kumu. So, more on kwentuhan lang every night, yung mga bayaning puyat, yung mga nagwo-work din during night shift or yung mga hindi makatulog, usually ‘yon talaga ang ginagawa ko, but sometimes I sing, pero hindi gano’n kadalas.”

Through what would best be described as his unassuming and unpretentious videos, his admirers grew more attached and bonded with him and his content. He ended the play on his own terms without even planning. His is a story that shows how life can surprise you in its unpredictable sense. 

Navigating a fan-centric career, his goal has long since been set on giving his supporters more importance to his own decisions, along with the fact that these people are his very escape in a sometimes exhausting and wearying workload. Like any of us, Garcia gets caught up in his own thriving vocation. Fortunately, he has his followers to flare up his confidence, endurance, and passion. He placed through words how his rapport with his followers constructed a sort of responsibility.

After all, it’s a give and take relationship,“Streaming for me, ginagawa ko siya every day, Monday to Friday. So, minsan totoo nakakapagod nga talaga. So everyday nagstre-stream ako ng ilang beses at ilang oras sa kumu. Siguro, when I feel like not streaming, iniisip ko lang na kailangan eh, kasi maraming taong naghihintay sa’yo eh. Like they’re messaging me na “bakit wala kang live today?”. So, siguro ‘yun ‘yung nagpapalakas ng loob ko na mag-stream, kasi someone is waiting for you, na makita ka nila, na mapasaya mo sila at may makausap sila.”

Aside from the fans who ultimately sparked his motivation to continue his chosen profession, Garcia explicitly outlined what about the kumu, the app ignited his excitement about spending time and effort on the virtual space. One is the engagement with different people. Lloyd found the experience of meeting different people and hearing various stories fascinating. While receiving massive support that molded his heart with ease, he also extended connections through campaigns and tied new strings of relationships because of this. 

But it is not always rainbows and candies for him. As a public figure and someone who’s under the spotlight, he cannot also dodge the strike of bashers. As for him, it is foreseeable, but he demonstrates an inherent maturity and an enlightened attitude towards the concept. 

“Siguro yung bashing which is hindi naman mawawala, it’s inevitable talaga na– lahat ng tao hindi ka naman magugustuhan talaga specially sa mga sinasabi mo, so, I think ‘yon talaga yung pinaka-challenging talaga sa mga streamers. And madali kasi sa kanila mam-bash kasi ‘di mo sila nakikita eh, so phone lang, they can comment anything they want.”

Getting a firmer grasp of this sour reality for public figures in the virtual space, he has long accepted it as a challenge to be defied and survived, and every time that he didn’t let it get him was a sign of triumph. On the other hand, these cruel instances were paid for by the ecstasy of emotions and satisfaction from all the memorable opportunities and moments that he treasured. 

One great example of this is his first campaign, which he also won, and which he now considers the most memorable moment of his four-month run in the industry.

He shared, “So, one month pa lang ako sa kumu nu’n and sobrang laki niyang campaign which is shopping spree with Ivana. And nu’ng finale talaga na feeling ko umiyak talaga ako. Like nakakaiyak pala talaga yung campaign, especially kapag finale na. Hinahanap ko yung mom ko. Iyon ‘yung hindi ko makakalimutan kasi sobrang hirap. Ang daming pinagdaanan like five days, seven days kang magla-live, tatlong beses sa isang araw, tapos  pagdating  ng finale, hindi mo alam kung mananalo ka o hindi. Pero ‘yon, at least nanalo naman.” 

Given these experiences, Garcia embraced this and continued to show his gratitude, along with the chances to encounter and interact with diverse people and made long lasting friendships. When asked what makes his streaming life fulfilling, he answered, “I think ‘yung nakilala ka ng mga tao and nagkaroon ka ng maraming friends, maraming supporters, and gifters na hindi mo ine-expect na darating sa buhay mo and especially ‘yung mga opportunity, like this one, ‘di ba?” pointing out his appreciation for being featured in Rank Magazine

Oversized top, button-down shirt, and denim shorts, custom Nina Amoncio.

With years of experiences tucked nicely under his belt and a long, promising road ahead of him, Garcia continues to nurture and make his own discoveries as he furthers wielding his talent.

He pronounced, “Siguro na-discover ko na may mga bagay na iniisip natin na hindi para sa atin pero kapag sinubukan natin, hindi mo alam kung para sa’yo talaga, just like my streaming. I mean, I never thought na magiging streamer ako at makakabalik ako sa ganitong industry, so, masasabi ko lang siguro if it’s meant for you, it will always find its way.”

Lloyd Garcia’s journey is proof that some bits of life go unforeseen and could come without any hint. With a young four months of streaming, Garcia has already built his virtuous and inspiring reputation, but is still gearing up on the long road for which he is expected to continue to rise through the ranks.

Made in partnership with kumu

Produced, art direction, and styling by Leo Balante

Photography by Jerick Sanchez

Beauty direction and grooming by Nadynne Esguerra

Videography by Emil Santiago

Shoot assistant and cover layout by Bhernn Saenz

With fashion by Nina Amoncio, Edwin Tan, and Proudrace

Shot on location at The Penthouse Studio