Despite offers to run for public office again, former Quezon City councilor Aiko Melendez is stepping out of the political arena—for now. The 36-year-old actress would rather focus on showbiz this time. In fact, she already signed a contract with ABS-CBN and is co-producing an indie film with Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson.
“Perhaps I can try Congress in 2016,” she tells members of the press.
Aiko has Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista’s blessings to focus on her first love this time.
“I told him about my dilemma (about running for public office again or not),” Aiko admits. “He was nice enough to tell me, `don ka muna sa passion mo.”
And so Aiko is back—full time—where she first belonged as a precocious 11-year-old entertainment journalist Ronald Constantino discovered and director Maryo J. delos Reyes gave a break to through various projects for Regal Films.
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Showbiz’s silver girl–because she’s celebrating her 25th year in the industry–can’t wait to buckle down to work.
Aiko is excited about “Ikapito,” the indie suspense-drama she plays a dual role in: lead star and co-producer.
“I’m really known as a dramatic actor,” she explains. “After 25 years, I want a different attack.”
That different attack centers on her role as a mother who brings along her daughter to escape from an accident.
The daughter role is still up for grabs and Aiko is asking Pops Fernandez to do a cameo role. Candy Pangilinan is confirmed as one of the stars.
Returning to a field that saw her through ups and downs (e.g. marriage and single motherhood) allows Aiko to see how showbiz has changed. Aiko shakes her head at how some of the young stars are not as polite as she and her peers, like Carmina Villarroel and Ruffa Gutierrez are when they were their age.
“Most of the actors today are from reality shows,” observes Aiko. “Sa dami nila hindi ko na alam ang (names nila), unless they introduce themselves. I’m not naming names. But some of them feel that they will be around forever, just because they won a reality show on TV. Wala ng respeto sa seniority.”
Back then when she and her peers were still starting from scratch, Aiko says respect for veteran stars was the norm.
“Ngayon, tila wala ng pakialam.”
Despite that, Aiko’s heart still belongs to showbiz. When she married Jomari Yllana (now her former husband), Aiko made it clear that she would not stop her career. Aiko made occasional movie and TV appearances and returned to showbiz full-time when her marriage collapsed and she became a single mother to Andrei (now 14 and raring to enter showbiz).
Aiko and Jomari have since become friends. And Andrei is happy for his parents.
“He doesn’t see us fighting anymore,” Aiko explains.
It was Aiko who convinced Jomari to join the management company Backroom Inc. just as she did.
Aiko is also in good terms with Martin Jickain, mother of Marthena, her daughter.
“I’m okay with my exes. We’re friends,” Aiko reveals.
Martin, she adds, just got married.
Fancy-free Aiko goes out on group dates with a non-showbiz guy but insists another romance is not a priority.
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“What I can do now is to mingle with them and be friends. My daughter (a grade 1 pupil at Poveda) is possessive. She doesn’t want to see me with another man,” states Aiko.
The contented mother admits that she could be happier, though.
“I’m the marrying type,” she relates.
Two broken marriages have taught her to be more careful. The Psychology student (she was a freshman when she quit school because of showbiz) prefers to scrutinize the man’s character before falling in love again.
“Na-psychologize ko na noon ang mga boys. But I was too stubborn and followed my heart,” she looks back.
Two broken marriages and 25 years of showbiz after, Aiko is wiser and stronger. She has a lot to be proud of.
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