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Meet the New Girl Gang: Ylona Garcia and Andrea Brillantes

They're tougher than you think.
IMAGE Mark Jesalva ART Clare Magno

Growing up in the age of the internet, bullies can be on a whole other level of hate. We sit down with two of the Philippines' brightest young stars and talk about what it's like being famous in a time when you can be liked and hated in equal measure.

Trending teenage queens Ylona Garcia, 14, and Andrea Brillantes, 13 look like they've gotten the celebrity bit down pat. Posed and poised for the camera, straight from the makeup chair, you'd think they've been doing this their whole life. You almost forget that they're just like any young teen—awkward and silly—until they break out into a funny face and giggle their way through a layout.

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Andrea was just 3 years old when she knew in her heart that she was going to be a celebrity. She excitedly recounts, "Simula nung 3 years old ako, gusto ko nang maging artista, maging singer. 3 years old pa lang ako, marami na akong gustong gawin."

And that's exactly what she did. In just a few years, she's managed to appear on various TV shows such as Goin' Bulilit, Maalala Mo Kaya, E-Boy, and Wansapanataym before landing her breakout role on Annaliza. Possibly inspired by the local celebrities she looked up to growing up like Kim Chiu, Bea Alonzo, and Liza Soberano, she showed everyone that she's got what it takes to make it on a TV show.

This was not the case for Pinoy Big Brother housemate Ylona. At first, showbiz was not something she saw herself getting involved in. But growing up, watching some of her favorite artists like Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce, she slowly got to the point that she "really wanted to make this a career."

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Ylona hasn't been in the celeb circuit very long, but she's already done a solo digital concert and dropped her debut album, My Name is Ylona Garcia, exclusively on digital streaming service Spotify as one of its Spotlight artists. Not surprising as the local artists she looks up to are Kim Chiu, Sarah Geronimo, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, and Maja Salvador.

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With about 3M followers between them on Instagram alone, we talk about how the internet has become both a good and bad thing when it comes to criticism.

With comments being thrown at them almost real-time, Andrea says, "The advantage is maraming pumupuri sa'yo so you feel good about yourself." It makes her happy when fans say, "Uy, napasayo mo ako. Inspiration ka!" For Ylona, it lets her form a connection with her fans. "When they comment, I know more who they are as a person. Which is what I like, I like to be more close to my fans," she shares.

But social media can be a double-edged sword, of course. Andrea is no stranger to bashers. She says, "Kasi sa social media iba na talaga 'yung cyber bullying eh. Grabe sila magsalita. Noon, nagbabasa ako ng mga hate comments. Pero ngayon, hindi na." While she has learned to ignore the hate, she knows that it can still affect how other people perceive her. She explains, "Puede sila mag-comment na 'Ay, ang pangit naman niyan.' Tapos maayawan ka ng ibang tao na parang, 'uy, marami nag-h-hate sa kanya.'"

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Like seasoned social media mavens, though, these two know exactly how to handle their bashers online. Andrea believes that you shouldn't mind them because that's exactly what they want. 

"Bakit mo sila papansinin? Gusto nila diba maging malungkot ka dahil sa kanila? 'Di wag mo bigay. 'Wag mo ibigay yung gusto nila. 'Wag mo hayaan mag-mukha kang miserable sa harap nila." —Andrea Brillantes

But what happens when they cross the line? Andrea says to defend yourself but don't become a bully yourself. "'Wag ka magsabi ng mean things about sa kanila kasi para maging ikaw din sila, para ka ding naging bully." Haters are there because of two things: they're jealous of you or they just don't like you. And if you did something wrong, Andrea says to own up to your mistake and just say sorry. But at the end of the day, you'll just have to deal with the fact that you cannot please everybody. Andrea muses, "Kung may haters ka, edi okay, tanggapin mo. Kasi meron tayo kanya-kanyang opinion, kung ayaw nila sayo, edi okay. Pero marami din naman may gusto sa'yo. Wala din naman tayo magagawa; hindi naman natin ma-c-control 'yung comments nila."

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Which is how Ylona deals with haters. Her 3-step plan to dealing with bullies: Love them, laugh, and just don't react.

"Don't say anything because it'll only make it worse. Don't react, don't do anything. Just smile and just love yourself." —Ylona Garcia

These headstrong ladies are definitely unfazed by naysayers and still have so many dream projects waiting in the wings. Andrea's being a hybrid of two mythical creatures. "Darbel! Dyesebel and Darna. Dyesebel sa umaga, Darna sa gabi," she excitedly narrates. While Ylona still a little unsure about the specifics but convinced that it's definitely the comedy horror genre, she shares, "I've always wanted to take on the role of a vampire or a spy." Both are definitely not taking the easy route. Andrea insists, "Gusto ko 'yung mahirap. Kahit ano, basta challenging." Ylona adds, "I want to take on a role where I'm all hands-on, and do all these stunts."

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They've still got a long road ahead of them but they've already learned so much along the way. Here's what Andrea and Ylona have to say to themselves if they could talk to themselves before they joined showbiz.

 

"Ylona, don’t take things too seriously, work hard, focus, and no boyfriend!"

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"Bago ka maging artista, tandaan mo at dapat alam mo, madami mag-jujudge sa'yo. Madami mag-h-hate sa'yo. Kung ano man pinagdadaanan mo ngayon, 'wag ka mag-give up. Ito yung gusto mo, ito yung mahal mo. Wag ka mag-give up kahit na andami demonyo na nand'yan. Alisin mo nalang sila sa isip mo at dapat maging strong ka kasi dadating din ang araw mo. Pak ganern!"

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Check out what went down at our cover shoot by hitting the play button below!

Make sure to grab a copy of the November 2016 issue out on stands now and available on Apple Newsstand, Buqo, and Zinio. Tag us when you post on social media and use the hash tag #CandyGirlsForever. We'd love to hear what you thought of the issue!

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About the author
Macy Alcaraz
Former Editor in Chief, candymag.com
When she's not busy online, she's in the kitchen on a mission to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Macy

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Nicole Caluag 2 hours ago

5 Mystery-Thriller Novels to Read

If you’re stuck at home and out of Netflix shows to binge-watch, then you might want to try and read these mystery-thriller books to match your homemade Dalgona Coffee.

1. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The debut novel, and Goodreads Choice Awards Best Mystery & Thriller of 2019, follows Alicia Berenson, a well-known painter married to an esteemed fashion photographer. Life seemed perfect for Alicia, until one evening when she shot her husband five times, and… never spoke again.

2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

From the author of Final Girls comes this page turning novel about an infamous building in Manhattan called the Bartholomew. After stumbling upon an ad to become an apartment sitter, Jules Larsen has set out to look after apartment 12A under strict and somewhat odd conditions. Not long after stepping foot in the building, Jules has been met with unfriendly tenants, eerie noises in the apartment unit, and an abrupt departure of a fellow sitter named Ingrid.

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3. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

If you loved Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, then this book is for you. After the disappearance of her Aunt Vivian while working as a night-shift clerk at the Sun Down Motel in 1982, Carly has set off to Fell NY, to work the same job at the same place as her Aunt had 35 years ago – with hopes of uncovering the truth lurking behind the Motel walls.

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4. Verity by Colleen Hoover

While known for Young-Adult Novels such as Slammed and Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover offers readers a romantic thriller about Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling author who was given the opportunity to finish the three remaining novels of a successful series after its original author, Verity Crawford, suffered an accident and has become immobile. After receiving an invite at the Crawford manor to sort through Verity’s notes, Lowen discovers an unpublished autobiography revealing the truth about Verity. With the eerie atmosphere of having Verity confined in her own home, and who is seemingly aware of her surroundings, Lowen is certain Verity is not what she appears to be.

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5. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

A mind-bending science fiction thriller from the best-selling author of Wayward Pines – Dark Matter is packed with the concept of the Multiverse and the philosophy of existentialism. The novel follows an ordinary Physics professor, Jason Dessen, who was looking forward to dinner with his family while walking the streets of Chicago. The next thing he knew, he was being held at gunpoint – by a man wearing a mask – and injected with an unknown drug and blacks out. When he regains consciousness, he learns that the world he woke up to was different from the world he knew.

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Here's a poem I wrote a while back reflecting on what it's like over-rationalize a simple thing like crushing on a dude -- hence, the title "Scientific Method"

Scientific Method

You were a phenomenon I cannot wrap my head around

When I first met you, my heart forgot to make its signature sound

And it's overwhelming, your presence;

And underwhelming, so science will be the only language I'll hide in-- For now.

Observation--

At first glance, I notice your top button unbuttoned,

and your shirt fully cotton

Complete with a smile as nervous as me

And a swagger in your step only I can see

Further on, I find your wit to be at a pace

That doesn't leave any space for tension to rise

and it's all too nice

And ridiculous and a bit too suspicious

That this isn't another (well,) circus.

Hypothesis--

Now, let's take a wild guess,

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Oh, but it has to be smart, yes,

That this could lead to something with potential

That this isn't another differential easily solved

With a formula, tried and tested but never evolved

Experiment--

For so long, we've both been independent of any dependent

Keeping our variables fixed and ourselves distracted

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With anything, everything,

But not a single thing

Could stop me from pushing this blindly to find its threshold,

Hoping that it's a quantity my hands could still hold

Over hours, days, and weeks

Through minor revisions and tweaks

Then comes the analysis -- that these weren't accidents

So, now I find myself in a conundrum

With the anomaly in a blue shirt right in front of me,

That this had to be processed logically,

But the findings are as follows:

None of which were shallow, so I therefore conclude that it's true,

I therefore conclude that it's you.

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Ancilla Diamante 3 hours ago

Mi Luna: The Light in My Dark Soul Locked in… Alone…

Why do I feel comforted by darkness? Oh cause maybe because… I am a jolly and very enthusiast kid back then. All I know is to have fun, laugh and play. But as I grow older, everything has changed, a lot. I can feel the changes. I know the more I get older, I’m turning to something I’m not. You know what, I just realized I like it even more. And that’s how I turned a monster. A monster to my own self. Always questioning life and even God about the things that are happening with my life. “Do I deserve this?”. Every day was a struggle. “Which mask should I wear now?”. And every night is my judgement time. “Should I still continue with my miserable life?”. This certainly sum up my whole life. I have this mindset since I was young. I can say that my experiences made me like this. I always want to escape, but every time I tried to pick up myself up, there is always shits that pulls me down. And there, I get tired. Hoping that no one would ever see this. As I despise myself as well. What I can do now is to just embraced everything, I just embraced darkness- reflecting my own self.

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“Look at the moon, it can shine alone and it can give us light at night.” A line I was keeping in my mind that a friend of mine helps me realize things and been there to fix my path. And there I started seeking for my moon but I do not know which part should I start. As days passed, I started to open up myself. I started to act as what truly inside me. It is very hard at first and there is this time that even the situation got worst. But as I continue exploring with my life, a question pop out on my head “Why did I still get this far?”, I can say that maybe I should do this, maybe I really can do this but it is myself who is holding me back because I’m afraid.

Now as far as I am trying to revive my soul, there I know that many people care. Yes, I learned to open up but not to all, on different situations there are people who can understand me because they have the same situation as I am. I learn to open up as long as they did not force me. I learned to navigate and open up for whom I trusted and at the same time when I am ready. The light that I am seeking is my own understanding and acceptance about myself. My light is myself and I am Mi Luna. So it is not too late to save myself. I have thought that, I should be a survivor and winner. That I should also be the ruler of my own mind and soul. Eliminate the room for darkness and let the light shine through you, that I can say how I earned myself again. Mi Luna’s darkness have turned to spotlight.

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