Don’t let the age fool you, YLONA GARCIA is a girl who knows exactly what she wants. At 17, her level of maturity and hustle is miles away from people twice her age. She puts her money where mouth is with pure talent, an effervescent personality, and a go-getter attitude. She knows where to take her career and she’s determined to reach the top without losing her authenticity in the process. There’s definitely no mistaking it: this youngster is a girl boss in the making.
It took me reaching the lowest point of my life, breaking down mentally, physically, and emotionally to align with myself and have a really strong foundation to be the best version of myself, no matter the circumstances.
The Pinoy Big Brother graduate has soared from her humble beginnings of being the 13-year-old with the staple choker, strumming her guitar, to a certified recording artist. Taking cues from her strong female idols, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, Ylona’s not afraid to challenge herself musically and speak her mind on things that matter. She says, “It’s always something different when they put out music, always something new to contribute to the industry and that’s what I’m all about. I like that throughout the years, they’ve stayed classy, but when they needed to speak up and defend people or themselves, they do it.”
This kind of thick skin is something the Australia-raised girl would come to learn she’d need in this industry. It hasn’t all been smooth-sailing for the teen as she quite literally grew up in front of the camera. Her stint in the Big House, where her daily activity was broadcasted, has definitely made some people feel entitled to her even after she left the show. “Everything that I did, all the decisions I made growing up, it was made in the spotlight. And I’m a very private person so I don’t really like to share a lot of things unless it’s for something fun, then I’m down but it doesn’t mean I owe myself to social media.”
But ever the resilient person that she is, she’s learned how to cope with it. She shares, “It took me reaching the lowest point of my life, breaking down mentally, physically, and emotionally to align with myself and have a really strong foundation to be the best version of myself, no matter the circumstances."
Even with all the negative things she may encounter, if there’s anything to be said about Ylona, it’s that she’s a joy to be around. A testament to that is during our photoshoot. She arrived on set in an oversized hoodie, a cap, black leggings, and chunky shoes. At first, she was trying to shake off jet lag but once she got a feel of the room, her energy just never waned. She radiates positivity that’s highly infectious to the people around her, singing and twirling around the set as if she hasn’t just stated that she was on another time zone just a few hours prior. It’s this kind of energy that makes people gravitate towards her and her creative spirit that makes her a true artist in the making. Read below as the young star gets candid about how she bounced back from feeling broken, how she embraces her morena skin, and her strong message on self-love.
Congratulations on your latest single! How did you feel when you first released it?
Actually, because of my bubbly and fierce personality, people thought that that was the kind of music that I was going to release—something that would showcase how strong of a girl I am, my transition into being a woman, or that I’m not afraid. But for this single, I felt quite the opposite. I felt super vulnerable because it was very dear to my heart and it was personal. I generally don’t like to talk about these things when it comes to my songs; I like to keep my love life very private. So when I finally put all of that in this one song, I was terrified. The song’s very vulnerable, that’s the word for it, really. And I wasn’t really sure about everything, I just knew that whatever I did with this song, I wanted to do it right and give it justice.
Can we safely say that you’re going to be concentrating more on your music more than acting?
For now, yes. I’m definitely focusing more on music and where it’s going to take me. I wanna have a balance of making sure I’m being very articulate with what I want but also just letting the music just flow.
I generally don’t like to talk about these things when it comes to my songs; I like to keep my love life very private. So when I finally put all of that in this one song, I was terrified. The song’s very vulnerable, that’s the word for it, really. And I wasn’t really sure about everything, I just knew that whatever I did with this song, I wanted to do it right and give it justice.
What kind of songs are you coming up with? Can we expect to hear more of this kind of vibe with your songs or are you changing it up? No. I guess that song was just a special message from my heart, something that I think people needed to hear. But the songs that I’ll be putting out next will be leaning more pop, fun, more of a youthful vibe. Kinda like enjoying my age because I’m seventeen!
What kind of music is on your playlist right now?
I’m into a lot of love music right now. Actually, I have this Old Love playlist where it plays music from different generations, Like Mister Postman which is super old and I also ones that are from this generation like Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Billie Ellish. It’s kinda like a mix of everything and they’re all pertaining to this one particular subject which is love. It’s a timeless topic and it’s something that I think, at this time, a lot of people need right now.
Who’s your dream duet if you had to pick?
Locally, I’d say Gloc9 or Aegis. I think they’re super fun to work with and I want to step out of my comfort zone. Internationally, Rihanna.
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I definitely draw inspiration from Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. They re-invent in every single album they come up with. The way they perform too! They have that stage presence that I’m just like, “I need that!” It’s the kind that doesn’t make you step back, but step up. It makes you inspired and motivated to do more and be more in life.
I’m into a lot of love music right now. It’s a timeless topic and it’s something that I think, at this time, a lot of people need right now.
Let’s talk beauty! Is there any particular makeup trend you’re loving right now?
I play with any lipstick shade, vampy ones and nudes. I also really like to experiment with my eyes. Definitely love highlighters too.
What are your summer beauty essentials?
I basically moisturize my face and put sunscreen. That’s pretty much all of it.
What is your skincare routine like?
In the morning, I ice my face. Then, I take a hot shower because when you take a hot shower it really loosens the pores on your face, and on your body too. And then I moisturize my face with any moisturizer and lip balm. I drink lots of water too.
Can you give us your best skincare tip?
Drink lots of water, it’s not just for skincare too, it’s for everything. Take care of your body girl, seriously!
If you had to have a beauty slogan, what would it say?
I would say my beauty slogan would be less is more, but more is fun.
Do you have a beauty icon?
Rihanna. I seriously love her. She’s just too good.
I would say my beauty slogan would be less is more, but more is fun.
You’re obviously a big advocate of being comfortable in your skin. Can you talk more about that?
You know, it’s whatever makes you happy. It honestly just depends on the person. Like if you wanna lighten your skin by all means, go ahead. But you also should be able to accept the way you look. When I was young, I was bullied for my skin color that I did want to become lighter than I am right now. It took a long time to accept the way I look and the way I am. It takes a lot of progress, bravery, confidence, and dedication to really love yourself and I wish that for everybody. Do whatever makes you happy, just don’t bash other people for their choices. Life is hard enough as it is already. People need more love in the world. They need to be more gentle and kind.
You’ve done a lot of daring looks with your makeup. Do you have one that’s particularly memorable to you?
I think because of all the daring ones that I did, it made me appreciate the simple, more elegant ones. I remember the Star Magic Ball in 2016. I just had straight, high ponytail and just really simple makeup. And I felt a lot more confident with myself. It’s clean-looking and it brings out your features a lot more. Makeup enhances your features. It shouldn’t change the way you look.
Let’s talk about your style. Your outfits go from edgy to feminine. What’s your personal style like when you’re not performing?
I usually wear baggy clothes and very chunky shoes or boots. I usually wear tights when I go to the gym now and at dance practice but you know, I wanna make sure that I’m letting my body rest.
When I was young, I was bullied for my skin color that I did want to become lighter than I am right now. It took a long time to accept the way I look and the way I am. It takes a lot of progress, bravery, confidence, and dedication to really love yourself and I wish that for everybody.
What fashion trend are you guilty of loving?
Chunky shoes with platform, man. I’m like 5'2. I need like to step up. I’m literally trying to step up. (Laughs) I need a boost. I also like chokers and colored-blazers; they’re very sophisticated.
On a more serious note, you’ve shared about feeling broken last year on your social media accounts because of all the negativity. What are your feelings about it now?
It wasn’t really supposed to be about me. It was more about creating awareness that people should be more gentle because not everybody knows what anyone’s going through. I’ve been in this [industry] for four years now and people have always told me “You’ll get used to it.” But you never do. I grew up in such a loving environment that going through that thing everyday is just challenging. Feeling broken and putting my health in danger last year, it was hard. There’s this part of me that thinks of my fans, like if I wanna share something to them, then I’ll share it. But what people don’t understand is that I don’t owe them a 110% of my life. We shouldn’t expect that from people. That’s the problem: people overstep. There’s a certain line that has to be drawn and I hope people understand that one day.
There’s this part of me that thinks of my fans, like if I wanna share something to them, then I’ll share it. But what people don’t understand is that I don’t owe them a 110% of my life. We shouldn’t expect that from people. That’s the problem: people overstep. There’s a certain line that has to be drawn and I hope people understand that one day.
How do you feel about your haters?
It’s kinda twisted. Even though all these people hate on me, tell me I’m not good enough, that I can’t do this, or I’m never gonna be able to amount to what I want to be, I feel sad for them. I want them to be able to reach their goals because they may have it harder. I’m out here, going through whatever I’m going through, in the public eye, and it’s hard because I wanna be a role model but I also want to be able to live my life which is challenging to balance and I am still working on it. I’m 17. I still got time.
What is your advice for young girls out there?
Just work hard on what you’re good at and what you want in life then get there as yourself. I think, at the end of the day, you’ve got to choose your battles and you really have to start from within. It took me a long time to realize that, no joke. Always take time for yourself and reflect. If you’re wrong, accept that and work on it. And not just for yourself but for the people you wanna spend the rest of your life with too.
What projects can we see or hear into?
More music coming out!
It’s hard because I wanna be a role model but I also want to be able to live my life which is challenging to balance and I am still working on it. I’m 17. I still got time.
Photographed by Charisma Lico
Styled by Myrrh Lao To
Makeup by Anthea Bueno
Hair by Jeff Valenzuela