In a snap of a finger, it's already 2020. A new year means a new chance to start over. And for Ylona Garcia, it's the beginning of a new phase in her life as she turns 18 come February 28th. Remember those days when we first landed our eyes on this TV darling, showcasing her singing chops and bubbly personality on national TV? Fast forward to present, the ‘Daldal Darling of Australia’ is in full bloom—growing past the teenybopper image she’s carried since her onscreen debut in Pinoy Big Brother 737 Teen Edition.
From a budding teen with a dream inside the Big Brother House in 2015 to becoming one of today's favorite Gen Z muse, it's apparent how the years have done her good. Outgrowing her then-signature choker for sleeker, fashion-forward choices, Ylona’s coming-of-age doesn’t just apply to her everyday looks. She’s already matured—way more than she appears to be.
Top by Twill Cavern, Pants by Lulu Mins, Accessories by Koket Fashion
A ‘50s Party
We had a glimpse of Ylona's upcoming 18th bash in her pre-debut shoot, uploaded mid-January, which already garnered almost half a million views on Youtube. The ‘50s-themed production teases what Ylona has in store come her coming-of-age fete. Taking inspiration from the era that her late grandfather loved the most, she decided that going the old Hollywood route, clad in swing dresses, cigarette pants, and polka dots and stripes, is the perfect course of action.
Dress by Girls Haven, Accessories by Koket Fashion
“My plan is to have the most fun that I can have on my 18th birthday, with the people that I love,” the "Pretty Please" hitmaker explains. During the initial planning stage, she thought about what would actually make her happy—and instantly remembered how she enjoyed learning about the whole ‘50s era from her lolo. From introducing her to the music of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe to seeing him in all the trends from that decade, it's certainly a memory from her childhood that she always loves coming back to. “I wanna share this happiness that I felt at that time with my grandfather with everybody,” she adds.
Having the party wasn't really her idea, though. But her mom convinced her to say yes to this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, a predicament that most debutantes may relate to. "When she finally changed my mind, I was like, "You know what, I'm going to have this birthday party for you. But there's one condition—it has to be under what I want," the birthday girl emphasizes. Of course, they agreed.
Dress by Girls Haven, Accessories by Koket Fashion
The planning can get stressful, for sure—but not for Ylona. It’s a good thing that her mom gave her the freedom for creative input, letting her spin the celebration the way she wanted it to be. Ylona is as equally grateful as being in charge added to the #adulting factor—the birthday girl is bringing the party of her lifetime exactly the way she envisioned it to be.
Coming of Age
“I’m most excited to find out what’s so good about being 18,” Ylona answers when asked about what she’s most excited about turning 18. “I mean, it’s been a hyped up thing; apparently, it’s when girls come of age. Let’s see where this takes me, then.”
As someone who has spent most of her adolescent years under the limelight, Ylona acknowledges the struggle of juggling life as a normal teen and a young star working her way up to reach her dreams. “Imagine how difficult it is to balance studying while handling all these conflicting emotions of a teenage girl and having everybody look at you and literally judge you and everything that you go through. It’s all magnified and amplified. It can be scary and very dangerous,” she relates.
But as the years add up, the more she felt confident about herself. It’s one of the things that she’s proud to equip herself with. Suddenly, handling certain situations become more manageable and has taught her the wisdom she now carries with grace. Though, of course, there will still be times when she feels like being a kid again, especially with her 18th birthday looming in.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be 18. And now that I’m turning 18, I just want stay 17,” she laughs. “At the same time, I guess I’ve come to a point where I’m content with how my life is flowing. It’s inevitable to come of age, so I’ve come to accept it, and I’m now excited!”
Gone are the days when the crazy, rebellious, and agile kid would go out of her way for her fill of adventure. We welcome the Ylona whom she describes as chill, content, and more experienced. “But I still got that little bit of craziness, you know? Some things don’t change,” she teases.
Today, Ylona soars higher, especially in her career. And she continues to explore possibilities through hosting, creating videos for her YouTube and TikTok accounts, performing on various stages, and producing music. Moving forward, this multi-talented stunner eyes the global scene—the next step in her ever-evolving path.
It’s not hard to dream of Ylona taking the worldwide arena. Last October, before she released her latest track "Lie So Well," the singer posted about her upcoming collaboration with international artists H.E.R., Apl.de.ap, and Skip Marley. “New stuff coming,” she writes. “Get ready y’all!”
It’s been her goal since she was nine years old. And after years of giving her best to work towards this ambition, Ylona is slowly reaping the fruits of her hard earned labor. ”To be able to finally have that chance to work towards what I want, it’s scary,” she confides. “But my manager said there’s no difference. ‘I’m just giving you a bigger platform. So all you got to do is be yourself and enjoy the ride.’”
Personally, though, there's qiute a lot on her plate of priorities. Ylona is set to go to college soon and wants to take up Psychology as her course as understanding the human mind is one of the interests she’d like to focus on. Yes, she may have a hectic schedule for an eighteen-year-old, but she's got tricks up her sleeves to make it more manageable. She’s an avid self-care fan and makes sure to squeeze yoga and workouts in throughout her day to make sure her well-being is prioritized.
(L) Top by Artisanat Handmade, Accessories by Koket Fashion; (R) Dress by Sassa Jimenez, Accessories by Isabella Collections
As she turns a new leaf this 2020, we ask her: What do you advise people who, like you, are getting to the next chapter of their lives? “It’s for you to really live. You just don’t want to survive life—you have to live it. So do what you got to do,” Ylona ends with that knowing spark in her eyes.
Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Myrrh Lao-To
Makeup by Laila Al-Harthy
Hair by Jeff Valenzuela
Video Produced by Deiniel Cuvin
Video Edited by Sam Aniciete
Shot on Location at The Grounds Resort
ALSO READ: #ChalkLovesLouDre: Lou Yanong & Andre Brouillette on How They Define Love