With undeniable fame comes all things luxurious and coveted – sparkly jewels, luxury cars, million-dollar homes, words of adoration heard left and right, and floor-to-ceiling stacks of cash. A world of fancy dinners and star-studded parties sounds like the dream, and admit it or not, at least one point in time, there is nothing more you yearned for than the seemingly easy life people in that world have.
Ylona Garcia was one of the billions who yearned for that glamorous world, and now, at just 17 years old, she is one of the few who gets to live in it and shine so effortlessly.
What Ylona wants, Ylona gets.
Before she became one of the most popular teen stars in the industry, Ylona Jade Navalle Garcia was opening shows in the Australian leg of some of the most renowned Filipino artists’ tour, such as Martin Nievera, Sarah Geronimo, and Bamboo.
The Filipino-Australian beauty was then catapulted into fame in the Philippine showbiz industry after her stint as a Pinoy Big Brother: 737 Teen Edition housemate. She was just 13 years old and was dubbed as the “Daldal (Talkative) Darling of Australia”. Ultimately, she finished as the season’s 1st Runner-Up.
Ylona captured the nation’s heart with her cute Australian accent and the overwhelming amount of maturity her words held.
Being a celebrity has been one of her childhood dreams. She knew that if she wasn’t going to pursue a career in medicine just like her parents did, she would become the star that she is today.
“I had a feeling since I was nine that I was just always meant for so much more – to be a star, to be up there,” she recalls.
And up there she went.
From looking up to icons Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, and the Beatles, the old soul now has her own set of youngsters looking up to her style (remember how chokers became trendy again after PBB fans saw her wearing one constantly? Impact.), her acting skills, and her music.
However, despite her success, Ylona wasn’t able to escape the dark side of living in the glamorized world of show business.
It’s no secret that no matter how put together things may seem to be, there’s always something ready to crack at any moment. A well-made vase could shatter with a push of a finger, a well-built house could be carried away by a hurricane, and a well-constructed world could always shatter with a pinch of doubt and a whole lot of anxiety and harsh words.
Last year, fans and non-fans alike were surprised that the then 16-year-old star was brought to the hospital due of stress, which she acquired after coming across a number of mean comments and distasteful words thrown her way.
She describes the experience as “super rough”, recalls being “all over the place” and she didn’t fail to notice how her energy had started to affect the people around her.
“I couldn’t really pick myself up, and then that bad energy was spreading around and it was affecting my family, my friends, and the people that I work with. I had, and I still have such a great support system. It’s just that at the time, they didn’t know what to do.”
At only 16 years old, Ylona had to deal with what most of us can’t even imagine going through, and that took a toll on what was supposed to be a sweet age.
All of it – the social media hate, her confusion on what she really wanted in life, and her constant questioning of whether or not the people around her were true and had good intentions – piled up until it was too much to handle.
The fact that she also knew how one mistake could affect her career didn’t help.
“I started at 13 – so many changes – and you have to make sure that you’re always perfect. One wrong move and they say your career is over,” she said.
But despite the odds not being in her favor last year, she wanted to be okay again, so she got up, asked for help, and tried her hardest to get better until she finally did.
Looking back on the experience, Ylona said that there was nothing left to regret, as the number of lessons she learned outweighed the number of obstacles she had to go through. If 2018 was a year of near-destruction, 2019 for her is a year of recovery and finally being at peace.
“This year, I feel like a whole different person – a person that’s just loving herself, her mentality, [a person that’s] physically and emotionally aligned with herself. Like everything is all zen, and it feels really good,” she said with a voice that echoed with relief and evident sense of self-acceptance.”
One can very well say that maturity is Ylona’s most empowering trait. She looks at things from a perspective that will help her find a way out of an abandoned well, and as soon as she gets a clear view of what her next moves should be, she fearlessly climbs over one rock after another, getting wounded and bruised along the way, but making it out alive and whole.
“You are not what happened to you,” she said, giving insight as to what gives her that unbelievable amount of strength and determination. “. . . You can always restart, and come back, and be better.”
In the time and age of people having access to your every move and decision, it’s so easy to get sucked into a world of unsolicited pieces of advice and hate-fueled criticisms, thanks to social media. You are either the one criticizing or the one being criticized.
Being a part of the dream world means always being on the side of the criticized, one of the many aspects of that life that isn’t as pretty as the rest of it is. Ylona now knows this all too well, but if anything, what she went through only empowered her more, and truly, there is nothing more inspiring than a young lady who acts on her bravery with wisdom beyond her years.
The 17-year-old knows better than to always put on a brave front. For Ylona, being empowered doesn’t always mean being fearless, but it could also mean being brave enough to show your scars and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
“It shows confidence, bravery, and courage. It shows the amount of growth,” she explained.
Now, Ylona has put her past behind her and has finally put her personal and career growth at the top of her list.
The singer-songwriter is currently focusing on working on the new album that she says would definitely come out this year, and would be, by far, one of the most personal projects she would ever put out.
If her first album was all about showcasing her vocal and songwriting versatility by taking on various genres, the second one will be all about putting her heart on her sleeve.
“The new album that will be coming out and the new songs I’ve been putting out are very personal, and I think that’s why I’ve been so nervous because I’m coming from a very vulnerable place,” she said.
She said there might even be songs that she would cry to should she get the chance to perform them, but she’s very much excited for what’s to come, as it signifies a new chapter in an artist’s life who isn’t afraid to reinvent herself.
Ylona has got it all, and she knows it. She has a dedicated fan base, a blossoming career, the voice of an angel, and a heart that knows its worth. She has got everything she would ever need, and for her, that was enough.
Fame served as Ylona’s ticket into the dream world that is show business, but it’s her character and driven personality that will cement her into that world as one of its brightest stars.
She is as in control as much as she loves to enjoy her youth, as brave as she is vulnerable, and as humble as she is empowered.
What Ylona wants, Ylona deservedly gets. No shortcuts; just pure talent and good work ethic.
Just the way she sees it, likes it, wants it, and gets it. Ylona Garcia is our MEG Idol for March to April 2019.