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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.

 

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."

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.'"

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."

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!"

 

"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!"

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
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.
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