Wholesome Kyla
POPARAZZI - POPARAZZI By Nathalie M. Tomada () - August 14, 2006 - 12:00am
Six years into show business, Kyla has so far preserved a wholesome image, neither pulling a daring gimmick to shock her fans out of their wits.

The first impression a meeting with Kyla makes is that she doesn't have that diva-ish stance expected of a hitmaker; and that the seemingly wisp of a girl is a bit reserved.

Her succinct and soft-spoken answers were sometimes drowned out by her band doing a sound check in the background. But what's not to like in her? What she lacks in loquaciousness, she actually makes up for child-like sweetness.

"Six years...who would have thought?" she replies when asked how long has she been in the entertainment industry as "Kyla" (she was, after all, part of Kuya Germs' "That's Entertainment" under a different, but now forgettable, screen name).

A sigh, a smile. "Six years na pala?" she echoes, still a bit incredulous, to no one in particular.

Yes, just a little over half a decade, but look how far she had gone: the Mass Communications graduate from Philippine Christian University has five albums (the month-old "Beautiful Days" under EMI Philippines being the latest) and a string of awards from Awit and MTV Philippines. Plus, she hosts and performs in GMA 7's weekly variety show "SOP Rules" and QTV's kiddie talent search "Popstar Kids."

We chatted with the 25-year-old "R&B" princess, born Melanie Hernandez Calumpad, some hours before her mini-concert with the Akafellas at Ayala Center Cebu last Friday night. I found myself groping for recent issues, which she had figured in, to flavor our interview, but came up empty-handed. I realized that Kyla has so far preserved a wholesome image, neither pulling a daring gimmick to shock her fans out of their wits.

But it shouldn't be hard-or necessary.

"Ganito talaga ako," she explains, even stressing that her shoulder-baring and body-hugging attires (that's as far as I've seen her go) in her concert with Jay-R last February was the idea of her stylists. Otherwise, if she's on her own, you'll just see her in jeans, a plain top and as make-up free as one can be.

Actually, she sent tongues wagging after hooking up with PBA player Rich Alvarez of Red Bull Barako (and who's the break-dancing basketball jock in the Rexona commercial). The two first met when the cager reportedly asked for her autograph after one of her shows. I remember him professing his feelings for Kyla in a guest appearance at Boy Abunda's "Home Boy," punctuating it with "You have changed my life." She admits that Rich is her first relationship; they've been together for a year now.

Kyla, whose personally penned single "Beautiful Days" in her new album was inspired by Rich, admits that she does make time to cheer for him from the sidelines. She isn't bothered by the female adulation usually showered on PBA players. But such occasions unnerve her only because, as much as she wants to be inconspicuous, people inevitably direct their attention towards her when she's around.

Well, the same went for Rich during her Valentine concert in February with Jay-R, which we had been privileged to attend. During duets with Jay-R, wherein the Fil-American R&B singer seemed to croon love anthems right to her ear, we couldn't help but note her discomfort. People stole glances at Rich seated at the center, whom we caught being teased and was laughing in return. Was her awkwardness due to the presence of the cager? She is quick to say no, adding that the "closeness" was actually rehearsed, though, typical of her, she shies away from such. "That's really the way I am."

Kyla aspires for staying power in her chosen career. "As long as I can sing, I'll stay in the business. That's my background, and that's what I love to do. I can never see myself say, in a corporate setting."

She is brimming with future plans including producing her own shows and giving business a shot. She says she likes to look back to how hard she started (she had her share of rejection, yes) to keep her grounded. And for aspiring singers, she advises simply: "Dream high and keep the faith."

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