Why Christmas is sentimental for Mutya ng Pilipinas Tourism International 2018 Aya Fernandez
MANILA, Philippines – For Julieane "Aya" Fernandez, Christmas has always been special because of her family and her grandfather.
The Mutya ng Pilipinas 2018 Tourism International winner, who bagged the Dream Girl of the Year International title in Malaysia last December 21, told Rappler during her send-off party that Christmas reminds her of her grandfather, who passed away in January 2016 just after New Year.
The year 2015 was the last year she got to spend time with him.
"My lolo stood as my dad because he was working abroad, and my dad just goes home in [every] 3 years," Aya said. "Growing up, my lolo has been like my father figure – he’s always there – sa pagsabit ng medalya... siya talaga (he'd be the one putting on the medal... it was him always)."
"Christmas for me is always in remembrance of my lolo, of my dad. Last Christmas naman we celebrated sa hospital because my lola naman had a bypass surgery. But nandoon naman yung tradition – Christmas tree, bigayan ng gift. Laging may hamon. Lagi naming kinakanta yung happy birthday kahit wala na si lolo. (But the traditions are there – the Christmas tree, gift giving. There's always ham. We also sing happy birthday even if lolo is not here anymore.)
"So Christmas for me is a reminder [that] it’s about getting back up in life. Christmas for me is a reminder of struggle but at the same time of getting back up."
Calling Christmas a "sentimental" time, the 4th year Broadcasting Communication student from the University of the Philippines and younger sister to former Binibining Pilipinas International Patricia Fernandez said she hopes to serve the public one day.
Clearly it will be a different celebration for Aya this year.
Pumupunta kami sa house ng lola ko and so we gather there sa Pasig. That was before. My lola’s birthday is December 25. We really have this celebration wherein we have the salubong and opening of the gifts, 15 minutes before 12 ng [December] 25. After buksan and mag inuman, and then we have games for the kids. That’s what we do.
(We would go to my lola's house in Pasig and we gather there. That was before. My lola's birthfay is December 25. We really have this celebration wherein we have the salubong and opening of the gifts, 15 minutes before 12 midnight of December 25. After opening the gifts and some drinks, then we would have games for the kids. That's what we do.)
Wishes as 2018 comes to a close
They say you cannot fill with an empty cup and being closer to the masses has always been my dream. [It sounds] too cheesy, but it’s a dream to reach out to people... That’s my dream – to have a platform to reach out to know the people who I am going to "serve" in the future.
On the best Christmas gift she got
The most remarkable talaga is my lolo’s life. When we celebrated, it was in 2015 talaga na akala namin (we really thought) he can’t make it on Christmas kasi (because) it was cancer. So I really thought na hindi na siya aabot ng (he won't reach) Christmas, but I think that was the greatest blessing.
And also it was the time na pinanganak yung pamangkin ko (my nephew was born). So those were the nourished blessings. And this Christmas – my dad will be home so this will be the first time na kumpleto kami (we're complete).
This Christmas is going to be different. It’s not only going me, myself but it’s also for the country. It’s something different.
Joining Mutya ng Pilipinas
Sabi ng ate ko "try mo yung Mutya." It’s their golden year and I think it’s a good platform for me to be closer to the masses, which in 3 months after I won, totoo naman pala (it was true) and I’m grateful for that. Mas marami akong nakausap, nakaramay, nakapag interact na Filipino most especially in social media nung nanalo ako which is a dream come true. (I was able to talk with more people, spent time, interact with more Filipinos, most especially in social media, when I won, which is a dream come true.
The best advice from her sister Patricia Fernandez
There was a time that ate was the breadwinner. And what she taught me talaga is the meaning of sacrifice. The meaning of love – na she wanted to go to medical school but she can't because she’s the eldest and she’s the one providing. So she taught me the meaning of love and sacirifice. We wouldn't be where we are now as a family and me as a person if she didn’t sacrifice as much for us.