Aya Fernandez on Living Life With Color and Intention

Aya Fernandez on Living Life With Color and Intention

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In a world where serving many plates to people is applauded, Aya Fernandez strikes the balance between acceptance and intentionality in life

Dancer, beauty queen, actress, advocate, business owner—these are only a few titles under the name of Aya Fernandez. Some may attribute her name to either of the roles she has played, but one thing is for sure—she has a distinct mystery in her that makes people ask who she is and what she is up to these days. 

Maybe it is no coincidence that she was wearing YOU Beauty’s Rouge Power Matte Lipstick in the shade Allure. Both the color and the word definitely capture Aya’s command to turn heads, lead people, and stand proud throughout her journey. With a list of achievements under her belt, one can say that she is living a colorful and meaningful life. 

Aya Fernandez wearing YOU Beauty Rouge Power Lip Matte in Allure
YOU Beauty Rouge Power Matte Lip Cream in Allure

In an exclusive interview with MEGAStyle, the 24-year old “multi-platform” woman shares to us how a rainbow-like life is built upon shades of emotions, responsibilities, and purpose. This is how Aya lives her life with color and more importantly, with intention.

Hitting the growing blues

Talking to Aya about her roster of accomplishments could easily mistake all of them out of her personal passion. But the truth is, it was more of her curious attitude that motivated her to pursue her beauty queen and actress status. Dance, according to Aya, is what she is truly passionate about. Listing jazz, ballet, hip-hop as her genres of interest, Aya explained, “At an early age, doon nagstart ‘yung inspiration to expand my creative horizon. Hindi naman siya graded. [But it’s] something na ginagalingan [ko] because it sparks joy. So, I think du’n din nagsimula ‘yung disiplina ko.” 

The Mutya ng Pilipinas 2018 also confessed that joining the pageant was not part of her plan, but of her sister’s. It was the learning experience that she was after as Aya’s dream was actually to pursue broadcast journalism and climb her way to the top. 

Although the dancer was able to pursue her passion during her college life and even added a crown on her list of accolades, not all of her dreams actualized into reality. During her internship at ABS-CBN, the UP Diliman Broadcast Communication alumna was discovered and encouraged to audition as a talent. “God works in mysterious ways,” Aya pointed out as she recalled her journey to becoming an actress. “I’ve always been a fan of the art myself, but I never visualized myself doing it. Siguro nu’ng bata ako, pero hindi ko siya sineryoso.” 

Aya Fernandez wearing YOU Beauty Rouge Power Lip Matte in Allure

With Aya accepting the fact of her diverted dream, she started pursuing a career that involved being in front of the camera. After graduation, she started working as a VJ for MYX.

Along with the duties of her main career, she was also building her livelihood project of eco-friendly charcoal briquettes. But when the pandemic came, Aya hit pause on both her profession and passion. 

Finding purpose in green

Besides dancing, Aya also found a sense of purpose in science-based livelihood projects. “I would say Eco-Uling by Project Lily is my passion. My advocacy to turn waste into a sustainable livelihood community started way back in high school. [One,] I was a student leader; and two, a student of a science high school,” she said. 

The name of their company stemmed from Aya’s experiment during high school. She and her classmates studied making fiberglass reinforcement out of water hyacinths. Since then, her fascination with the flowering plant evolved into her own social enterprise. It has now expanded to her own project of turning coconut husks into charcoal briquettes.

As ambitious and promising as it seemed to be, ensuring that her business held the “people, planet, and profit” model was difficult for Aya, too. With their restaurant clients closed during the pandemic, they could only run the business on breakeven. “Towards the end of 2019, I was planning to shift Eco-Uling na to scale up. I was planning to buy new machines, [find] new partners, transfer factory, replicate our model, [and] expand our communities and beneficiaries—until the pandemic came.”

Aya Fernandez wearing YOU Beauty Rouge Power Lip Matte in Allure
YOU Beauty Rouge Power Matte Lip Cream in Allure

There was also the challenge of finding people who understood her approach towards this venture. “There were a lot of potential business partners who didn’t align with the values that I have, who would just focus on lowering the cost at all costs. It is valid, but I am sticking to my moral compass sa pagpapatupad nu’ng people, power, planet model.”

Now that things are getting back to shape, Aya wishes that the business continues to thrive more so for the families that depend on the Eco-Uling. Aside from helping their employees, they also allot a part of their proceeds to Tahanang Walang Hagdan. 

Fighting through the dark black

Aya’s story elicits a “wow factor” to anyone who hears it. This drive though, as Aya puts it honestly, did not come from solely wanting to pursue all of what she has taken part of. “Actually, I didn’t have the privilege to choose. I wish I had the luxury to find my soul and stuff like that, find my passion. But the circumstances needed me to work. There was no time for crying kasi kailangan magtrabaho para sa mga taong mahal mo. Kapag taong mahal mo na ‘yung nangangailangan, gagawin mo lahat. Also with Eco-Uling—there are families na nakakasalalay sa leadership ko. There’s so much accountability involved.” 

Beyond passion, it is really persistence that has been getting Aya through her day-to-day life. It is with the same persistence that she also conquered another challenge in her life—dyslexia. 

Aya Fernandez wearing YOU Beauty Rouge Power Lip Matte in Allure

Opening up her condition, she shared, “When I discovered about my condition, honestly, I cried because I felt so liberated and validated na parang free [ako] from all the insecurities. May something pala talaga ako kaya ako ganu’n. It took a while, pero I’ve been getting over my insecurities.” In her jolly disposition, she laughingly recalled that as a VJ, she would memorize her lines and rewrite them back then because the prompter displayed only uppercase letters, which made her struggle. “Looking back, I could’ve just told people. Now, okay na ako.” 

An empowered woman like Aya may seem to never stop for anything and anyone, but that is actually not the case. She pointed out, “Kapag may days na maraming gagawin, that’s when I take an effort to find more time to be still.” Aya cites working out, meditation, and being present during moments with her loved ones as the things that help her get through everything. 

Ready to conquer in red

With all her accumulated knowledge and experience, it only felt right to ask Aya this last question: How do you define empowerment? To which she answers, “For me, I believe that the greatest form of empowerment is being able to empower other people. To empower yourself is a continuous learning process, and there’s no one-size-fits-all. 

“A power woman is someone who fills her cup with the right things so that she has a lot to pour for others.”

“But it’s okay to have an empty cup than having a cup that is full of the wrong things. Also, honor the pause, honor the quiet, then follow a mindful and an impactful action afterwards. It may be a cycle or a simultaneous action. Dream big, start small. Forward is forward. One at a time.”

Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Creative Direction NICOLE ALMERO
Art Direction BRIE VENTURA, assisted by MOIRA MANILAO
Fashion Direction and Styling MIKA REYES
Beauty Direction MARA GO
Sittings Editor PEACHES GARCIA
Video Production AUDREY SISON
Videography JR RAMIREZ
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO

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