Friday, September 26, 2014

Everything (and Nothing) Has Changed

6:28 AM

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Deep breaths, clasped eyes, and tightly held hands. Nothing was going through my head, until I heard a sound I did not expect. “Gianna Llanes,” Sir Andre, the head of MYX Philippines announced. As soon as I heard my name being called, I was in complete shock. From that moment forward, my life would change completely. That single second would lead to all my dreams being fulfilled. Why me?

Let’s talk about life before winning the MYX VJ Search. Like any nineteen-year-old, I went to school, hung out with friends, and attempted to find hints of what my future would turn out to be. However, figuring myself out was the most difficult part. Growing up in a Western community my entire life, with a hint of Eastern values, I knew that my introverted personality had a mixture of being afraid to expose my entire personality. I had always longed to attend university in Canada, but due to insufficient funds, I had to stay in the Philippines and study in Ateneo - an opportunity I took for granted. And in the hopes of starting a career early, attempting to exceed€ my capabilities, I’ve learned that I should try things out without the fear of failing and being unaccepted. Auditioning for MYX was my answer.

The process was both grueling and exciting, even quite enticing. With the surprise that I even got into the top twelve finalists without any aid, the entire hundred days in the MYX VJ Search came with an adventure a day. Sometimes, it would be the incompetence that what I was presenting was not as good as the others. Other times, it was dealing with hate from strangers on social media, something I wasn’t very used to. I think the biggest challenge was when I had a one-on-one talk with Sir Andre, the one who had most control over whom would get the job. We were face-to-face, him pointing out my weaknesses, then tears falling from my eyes when he asked, “Why do you think you deserve to be the next MYX VJ?” In response, I said, “Because I am willing to work hard, I promise to improve my performance, and this is a job I am extremely passionate about.”

And since receiving the job, nothing but passion has driven me. A typical day would look like this: At about five in the morning, I wake up to get ready, schedule the day, and drive myself to school. I get to Ateneo between six-thirty to seven in the morning, then proceed to class until about noon. From school, I drive myself directly to ABS-CBN, where I proceed to the studio and tape anywhere around two to six hours. Then, I would either go home or to Katipunan (for the studious environment) to complete my homework, then do it all over again. Occasionally, I would sneak in some time for a social life. Although there are common assumptions that I am busy, tired, and lack time for myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Winning the MYX VJ Search opened up countless opportunities that I still cannot fathom. From minor ones like receiving sponsorships (yay, free stuff!) to being part of one-in-a-lifetime events and adventures, the biggest opportunity I received would have to be the amazing people I met. Because MYX increased my confidence, I decided to try other things as well, such as becoming a courtside reporter for UAAP Season 77. From that, I was able to gain sisters who will forever be my friends. From MYX itself, not only the VJs, but the crew as well has become family to me. Those who generalize going to work as a burden after school, I seek as my refuge, to decrease all my worries and to allow me to be care-free. I definitely attempt to make the most of my time with them.

What I most value are the people who give me countless amount of support, despite not knowing me personally, because I entertain them. The comments I receive are words that I forever value. It makes me feel as if I’m doing my job successfully. Before working for MYX, I had about 160 followers on Twitter. Currently, I have more than four thousand. And popularity is not important to me, the amount of people even bothering to keep updated in my life makes me feel as if I have numerous companions. In my world, there are no such things as fans, but more so friends. I owe them every ounce of motivation to genuinely work hard and have the drive to give an excellent performance.

I don’t think reality has hit yet, despite months passing after winning the search. One particular instance still keeps me in awe, and it only happened about a week ago. After hosting the MYX Slam Jam in UP Diliman, where we were able to play games with the students and present to them huge musical acts, the two boys who also won the VJ Search (Luigi and Vieo) and I had to be escorted by six bodyguards to get to my car. As we walked from backstage to my vehicle, the students were asking for photos, autographs, and even just a high-five. We were greeted with smiles, cheers, and squeals. Once we got into my car, we all just sat there for a few minutes and said to one another, “Wow guys, have you ever thought we would ever be those people that would get all this attention?” No, I thought, I am nobody special, I am just blessed to do what I love to do, and people apparently appreciate it.

Since winning the MYX VJ Search, nothing has changed, but at the same time, everything has changed. Confusing, I know, but words cannot describe the complexity of the situation. I still carry on with my daily routine, with a little bit of spice to it. At this point, I am happier than ever, I feel as if I found my place and am now assured of what I want to do for the rest of my life. With the title of “role model” (apparently) now attached to my name, I do feel the pressure to show a good example, but I also feel liberated to show others to be themselves as well. As cheesy as it sounds, whatever people now see of me is me wholeheartedly, which I really appreciate MYX for giving me the freedom to do.

The glamorous life is not for me. I’m still weird – I still say dumb things, I still trip and fall on my face, I am still incredibly awkward. But that’s the greatest wonder of the aftermath of MYX, I am able to be who I am, love what I do, while sharing it with others as well. It is spectacular.

Article and photos by/from Gianna 
Art by Gaby (with a photo of Gianna from

Gianna is currently a Magic 89.9 Junior Jock, a UAAP Season 77 Courtside Reporter, and a Myx Philippines VJ.

Gaby is used to working quietly in the background. The Thing is her first big attempt at taking the lead. She isn't sure how it is going to go, considering that most of her time is spent trying to get her dog to listen to her. On most days, you would find her at her computer, excessively bookmarking links to DIY projects and articles about teenage wunderkind.


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