MANILA -- After trending on social media for her dramatic weight loss and new look, Aiko Melendez announced Thursday that she is running for congress, representing the 5th district of Quezon City.
Melendez, 45, a former councilor of the city, has no qualms about returning to public service.
“Mas marami talagang nag-uudyok sa akin na tumakbo bilang kongresista,” she told ABS-CBN News in a virtual conference. “Kasi nga 9 years akong naging konsehal, na-experience ko na 'yon, gusto ko namang mag-level up sa public service. I’ve always been behind the scenes, I want to go back to that direction.”
Melendez’s political handler is her current boyfriend, Zambales vice governor Jay Khonghun, who has also laid down another option for the actress to run for another position in Quezon City depending on surveys and realignment of political parties.
Melendez also clarified that she will not be running against fellow actor Arjo Atayde, who is also from Quezon City. “Sylvia (Atayde’s mother) told me sa District 1 siya for congress; ako District 5,” she said.
At the crossroads of her life, Melendez is still pondering on settling down with Khonghun. It will happen when it happens, according to the couple. "Gagawan niya pa kami ng bahay," Melendez quipped, referring to him as his boss. "Iba pa 'yun sa dream house na pinapagawa ko for my children!"
Melendez also launched a new online shopping venue, pingmeup.store to augment her income. "Alam niyo naman kailangan din nating magtrabaho para sa ating pamilya," she said.
She also announced her new film, a trilogy thriller billed "Huwag Kang Lalabas." Melendez’s last movie outing was "Rainbow Sunset" where she won best supporting actress at the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival.
Basking on her son Andre Yllana’s recent graduation, Melendez also shared her pride in her struggles as a mother. She has one other daughter, Martina, with Martin Jickain.
Andre, 22, recently finished his Automobile Mechanic Course at Don Bosco Technical Institute.
"I can’t help but be emotional," Melendez posted on social media. "Una kasi 'di madali 'yung pinagdaanan ko para mapagtapos ko anak ko yes on my own. Single mom ako di ba. Not complaining. I remember there were days na I was lacking in terms of financial at that time… it’s also a story of my ups and downs."
She also listed down the names of family and friends who helped and motivated her at that time, minus ex-husband Jomari Yllana. "I don’t have to glorify or insult him by mentioning his name," she said, clarifying the issue. "Alam naman lahat ng tao na ginapang ko anak ko para makatapos. Pero kung gusto niyang humabol at tumulong pa rin by March kasi baka mag-aral pa uli si Andre, welcome at willing ako dun!"
Melendez, who recently mourned the passing of her stepfather to COVID-19, did not forget to mention the importance of getting vaccinated in the virtual conference.
"Sana mag-ingat talaga tayo!" she said. "Magpakuna na tayo, the first chance we have, grab it!"