Bautista was born to Leon Darni Bautista III and Susan Arazo Bautista in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Bautista was determined to help his family when his father was forced to stop working because of his physical condition. He has four siblings–an older brother (Ryan Oneal), a sister (Princess Alodia) and two younger brothers (Nigel Adrian and Jan Reil). With the cash prizes he won at singing competitions, he was able to help his parents through their financial difficulties.
In his early years, he was very shy to show his singing voice. His confidence began growing once he started joining different oratorical competitions. He even bagged the first prize in some of the oratorical competitions he joined.
He joined a band called Voizemale which did various gigs in Cagayan de Oro, mostly covering popular hits of Earth, Wind & Fire and Backstreet Boys. He further developed his confidence by joining various singing competitions. Close friends of Bautista persuaded him to audition for a singing contest in ABS-CBN's MTB. While that wasn't his calling to stardom, he continued to sing and improve his singing skills.
When the Star for a Night competition came, money became a problem, and he thought that he was going to miss this big opportunity. His mother provided him with money to go to Cebu as a birthday gift. He then went to Manila to finish the audition process. He passed all three levels of the Star for a Night auditions and made it to the grand finals. He said: "I can never forget that experience. That, plus the exposure, was enough to make me happy". At the end of the show, he placed as 1st runner-up next to Sarah Geronimo, the grand champion of the show.
In 2004, when he signed a contract to ABS-CBN, he became a regular performer in ASAP and became host of the Search for the Star in a Million (season 1 and season 2) singing competition as well as Star Magic.
In September 2005, he released his first album Dream On and its carrier single "I Need You" topped the MYX daily top 10 for two months. Due to the success of his first album, Viva Records released a full-length album called Dream On Expanded along with the release of the "You Win the Game" music video which featured a very daring Mark. The song reached the top spot in MYX in less than a week after it premiered.
On March 24, 2006, Bautista had his first solo major concert at the Aliw Theater, dubbed as 'Pop Heartthrob'.
In 2010, he signed a three-year exclusive contract with GMA Network. He became a regular performer on Party Pilipinas, made a cameo appearance in Diva and did a lead role in a primetime drama series.
In 2011, he, along with other Kapuso artists such as Iza Calzado (who later transferred to ABS-CBN) and Aljur Abrenica, performed for the Kababayan Fest held in Northern and Southern California. Additionally, he made a special appearance with Aljur Abrenica for a meet-and-greet at Seafood City Markets. This special performance and visit was to promote GMA Pinoy TV and the launching of GMA Life TV.
As of 2014, Bautista is currently performing in the musical Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim at the Royal National Theatre in London in which he plays Ferdinand Marcos. The musical is based on the life of Imelda Marcos. Bautista is scheduled to reprise the role in the show's Seattle production.
Bautista dated beauty queen and Pinoy Big Brother: Celebrity Edition 2 housemate, Riza Santos. He stated in a 2008 interview that he was courting Sarah Geronimo.
NotesA^ Dream On Expanded was first released as a six-track EP on September 13, 2005, entitled Dream On, before it was re-released as a studio album.