Mylin’s is a great American story, especially since we’re celebrating the 4th of July this month. Born in the Philippines to a father in the U.S. Navy and a Filipino mother, Mylin’s father was encouraged to return to the U.S. without her or her mother due to his young age of 18 and their different backgrounds. The day he was to ship out, he got into a serious motorcycle accident. Badly injured in the hospital, he decided he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life without Mylin and her mother. Two-year-old Mylin and her mother were flown to the U.S. in a C-130 military cargo plane, carrying the bodies of deceased U.S. soldiers. The trip took a week and a half.
“I almost never made it to the U.S.,” Mylin says. “I’m very thankful to be an American girl.”
Mylin, who lives in Los Angeles and is pursuing her music career, is one part Asian, one part military and one part rocker. What is so great about Mylin, is her loyalty and love for the United States, the country which has given her so many opportunities to pursue her love of music.
Mylin is a true supporter of American troops, entertaining and endorsing them whenever she is given the opportunity. Asiance spoke with Mylin about Filipino heritage, that bold hairstyle and exactly why she considers herself an all American girl.
I’m going to embrace my Asian ethnicity but I’m also going to do something that most Asian girls don’t do, which is cut my hair off and make it platinum blonde. That is something most Asian girls don’t do.
ASIANCE: Do you remember you voyage over here?
Mylin: Well I was only 2 years old but it has been told to me many times. My dad had actually gone ahead of us. My mom was only 19. I was 2. In order for us to make it from the Philippines to the United States, we had to take a handful of flights.. We flew on a military cargo plane and on one of them there were deceased soldiers in the back being brought back to America.
My mom told me stories about being in the airport and how she knew no one. She said there were many kind strangers. People helped us out. My mom would have her suitcase open in the airport and I would sleep in the suitcase. The people would see what she was doing and help my mom take care of me. I wish that I was old enough to remember. But she told me that people were so kind.
It was a very long, long trip from the Philippines. It was so brave. The fact that my mom left her entire family and brought nobody with her was so brave… .this tiny little 5’1 Filipino woman, who is so strong now. It just blows me away that she was this little 19 year old woman with no worldly experience, with a child.
ASIANCE: What is she doing now?
Mylin: Now she works for the Marriott. There are a lot of different nationalities which come through the hotel. She teaches diversity classes and how to get along with each other and the whole hospitality world. She’s a very strong woman. She’ll tell it like it is and she’s very respected.
Watch Mylin’s video “American Girl”
ASIANCE: Is this in Los Angeles?
Mylin: No in Florida. My whole family is down in Florida. I’m the only one who lives in LA. I moved out here for my career. My mom and dad are still together. It’s an amazing story. The fact that my dad almost didn’t bring us to the States is crazy. It’s a blessing. They love each other and they are still married today..About 33 years.
ASIANCE: What is the greatest thing you love about American culture? Filipino culture?
Mylin: I have not yet been back to the Philippines. I want to go back with my mom. She’s been back a few times and she’s been able to see family and during this time she’s been able to bring family over.
It’s funny because she’s been here for so long, so she’ll go back and they’ll laugh at her and say, “You are so American!”
She’s American but she does still have the Filipino blood in her. She is so close with her family. Filipinos are so close to their family. She is so generous and when people come in whether it’s my friends or my brother’s friends, she is just very open and welcoming. She treats them like they are family. That is so big in the Filipino family. They are always trying to feed you food..
ASIANCE: Is there a favorite Filipino dish that you like?
Mylin: I love Chicken Adobo. It is sooo good. But I do it a little bit healthier. Filipinos love to throw the whole chicken in. I take a little more healthy twist and do the chicken breast.
ASIANCE: What do you love about American culture?
Mylin: It’s so hard to pinpoint one thing because I’ve grown up here. Although I have a strong Filipino background in my life, I’m very much American. I love the freedom that if I want to be a singer or a recording artist then I get the fair chance to do that because I live in America. I love those freedoms. I have the opportunity to do whatever I want. I’m a woman and I have the opportunity to go out and make choices and do what I want to do. If I want to be a doctor, I have that opportunity. That is what I love about the American culture. It’s available if you take the opportunity.
In the Philippines, I know it is a wonderful country, but as a third world country there are not the opportunities to excel in these areas. I have been blessed to come to the States. I have the best of both worlds. I have the Filipino culture and I have my dad who is American/Caucasian. I get both of those worlds.
ASIANCE: How would you classify your music? And what is coming up next for you?
Mylin: My music is pop rock. You can compare it to Sheryl Crow. It’s an edgier, heavier Sheryl Crow.
Currently I’m in the Special Edition of People Magazine. It’s the one with Jonas Brothers and then on July 4th, they are releasing the Miley Cyrus Special Edition. I coupled with a cosmetics line. It’s called Fingers Edge Nails. It’s these really edgy foxy faux nails. They’re rocker designs. One design is a black nail with guitars and stars and one is striped black and white. That is why I’m featured in People magazine for this Rockstar Sweepstakes where people can win guitars and come to a show I’m doing in a few months. They can come in and hang out backstage.
I’m getting ready to travel to Fort Hood Army Base and perform on the Fourth of July. At the end of July, I’m traveling to Washington DC for this benefit concert called ThanksUSA. It’s a foundation that gives family members of the military the opportunity to get a scholarship to college.
Watch Mylin’s ThanksUSA PSA
ASIANCE: What else do you do for the troops? I know you are a big supporter.
Mylin: I love to do it and I get to perform a lot for military bases. It’s the least I could do. They are sacrificing their lives for us who in return aren’t willing to make those sacrifices.
My father was in the Navy and just knowing from a human standpoint when you sit back and listen to these stories and the decisions that he had to make at that age. They’re putting their life on the line for us. Not just even my dad, but from a human interest point of view, I’m very thankful and grateful. But the fact that I get to be here in American and that I almost didn’t make it. It’s the least I could do.
ASIANCE: Do you ever think what your life would have been like?
Mylin: Had things not turn out the way they had? Had he not realized how much he loved my mom and child? Fortunately he loved us so much but because of his age, there were pressures. Pressures that encouraged him to move on… that this was not the right decision. But when he got into the motorcycle accident on the day he was supposed to ship out, his life passed before his eyes and he realized, “What am I doing?”
Had I not made it to America, I could be working in the rice fields? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’d still be performing and singing but I know that it would be different. It would be good but it would be different. It would definitely include music.
ASIANCE: How did you get involved with music?
Mylin: Well I started modeling at 7 years old. I remember this distinctly. I was in the living room, I was watching a fashion show and I told my mom that is what I wanted to do, not realizing I would only reach the height of 5′ 3. My parents put me into a modeling agency when I was 7. Then they realized I could sing. Then I took acting lessons, singing lessons. I just continued to do plays and pageants. At 14, I was picked to be on the Disney Channel’s The New Mickey Mouse Club. That was the kicking point that made me realize this was what I was supposed to do.
ASIANCE: Who would you like to work with?
Mylin: I’m pretty content. I don’t really sit here and think about who I want to work with. There are a lot of people I admire. I love Sheryl Crow. I would like to get to do a show with her. I love Rascal Flatts. I think it would be fun to do a show with them. There are so many people who would be fun to work with.
ASIANCE: What made you cut and dye your hair?
Mylin: First I was bored of my long, plain style. When you’re in the music business you have to do things that make sense to you that look good. If you are doing things that make sense to you but don’t look good, I don’t recommend it. Being in the music business, you have to do things that are going to help you stand out as well. I am half Asian, I love long gorgeous dark hair but every time I would go out on auditions, we all just have the same look. I got to the point where I decided to just take a step and do something that is not typical. I’m going to embrace my Asian ethnicity but I’m also going to do something that most Asian girls don’t do, which is cut my hair off and make it platinum blonde. That is something most Asian girls don’t do. For me it’s been so fun because it’s just hair and it grows back. I love rocking the platinum.
ASIANCE: What would you say to other Asian American girls about your desires?
Mylin: If there is a desire to do music, I recommend that even though you are Asian, really seek out what works well for you. Seek out what truly comes for you. If you are singing R&B and it’s not your thing, but you are doing it because you feel like you have to then you’re not going to shine through it. For me, I was raised in Oklahoma, my songs are singer, songwriter, even a little bit of country, a lot of rock. That is not the typical.
Do what you feel is really comfortable for you! A lot of people think just because Mariah Carey is phenomenal, people think they are going to do that type of music… Well if you can’t sing that type of music, then you probably shouldn’t do that type of music.