In my city (Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Central Visayas, Philippines), I have always been known as the “expressive one,” never shy to voice my opinions on societal and relevant issues. However, as I have grown older, I have come to understand the importance of choosing my battles. While I remain strongly opinionated, I have learned to discern which topics truly require an amplified voice. It is a delicate balance, for there is a fine line between nonchalance and apathy, and being engaged in matters that demand public scrutiny.
My journey took an unexpected turn when I was crowned Miss Silliman in 2016, thrusting me into the spotlight. Miss Silliman is the most prestigious and longest running pageant in Asia. This newfound exposure allowed me to make a significant impact in various areas, particularly in business, education, and socio-civic contributions. In 2020, I was honored to be featured in Lihok NegOr for the province’s Women’s Month Celebration, showcasing my exemplary commitment to these fields. As a result, I became one of the most recognized personalities in Dumaguete City, boasting a considerable following on Instagram.
Today, my life has expanded to include the exhilarating world of freediving. This passion has provided me with incredible opportunities, such as being featured in esteemed publications like Inquirer and CDN Digital. Through my photos and visual storytelling, I strive to capture the enchanting beauty of freediving and the stunning beaches of the Philippines. It is a journey that is not only personally fulfilling but also allows me to share the natural wonders of our country with a broader audience.
Links to the featured photos:
What is your proudest achievement so far?
For a significant portion of my life, I held the belief that my proudest achievement would involve climbing the corporate ladder, achieving success in the world of big business. I was fortunate to be a part of San Miguel Corporation’s renowned brewery division, the largest beer company in the Philippines, and later, with Unilever, a global powerhouse in fast-moving consumer goods. These experiences were valuable, and they taught me much about the corporate world.
Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of corporate life, I stumbled upon a realization that could forever change my path. I discovered that my heart truly beats to the rhythm of an entrepreneur, and my soul longed for the freedom to create – without the feeling of potential limitations. My proudest achievement thus far was mustering the courage to take a leap of faith into the realm of entrepreneurship, a move that terrifies many – one that would test the courage of even the most daring. I made the decision to follow my creative vision and go full-time as a Resin Artisan to my small business, Aikonic Crafts.
Aikonic Crafts, a name derived from my own name, ‘Aiko,’ blended with ‘Iconic,’ represents not just a business but a legacy of artistic transformation. As one of the pioneering resin artisans in my province, I embarked on this journey in 2020 and found immense joy in touching and transforming lives through my artistic endeavors. My journey became a testament to the power of turning memories into masterpieces. Through commissioned projects, I have had the privilege of helping my clients immortalize their most cherished moments. I have preserved wedding bouquets, transformed umbilical cords, human ashes, animal fur, and even teeth into exquisite pieces that can be held close to the heart for generations to come. Each piece I create carries not only my passion but also the essence of the stories behind them. Aikonic Crafts has become more than just a business; it is a vessel for emotion, connection, and artistry.
While I continue to explore new business ventures that I can offer to the City of Gentle People, one thing remains constant – my love for art. It is the fire that burns within, a guiding light through the intricacies of business and the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. It is a testament to the idea that sometimes, our proudest achievements often hide in the shadows of our comfort zone, and it emerges when we embrace change, follow our heart and pursue our true calling.
Link to my business:
Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
I do not necessarily have a fashion icon, but I draw my fashion inspiration from a daring sense of self-expression. I prioritize comfort in my style choices, understanding that what is comfortable varies from person to person. While I aim to dress appropriately, I believe that clothing should be a means to express one’s individuality.
Do you have any favorite quotes or mottos you like to use in life?
1.“When we pray for a rain of blessings, we have to deal with the mud.”
This saying reminds me that achieving my dreams and receiving blessings often involves overcoming challenges and facing difficult situations. Just like how rain brings nourishment to the earth but also creates mud, our path to success may be messy and require us to navigate through obstacles. It emphasizes the idea that we should be willing to embrace the difficulties on our journey to reach our goals, but we must also be cautious in assessing if the soil and environment where we are planted are healthy, so we can bloom to our fullest potential.
2. If it is not a f*ck “yes,” then it is a “no.”
This saying is a powerful reminder to prioritize what truly excites and fulfills us. It encourages us to make choices that align with our passions, values, and desires. When faced with a decision, if we do not feel a resounding, enthusiastic “yes,” then it suggests that we should reconsider and perhaps say “no.” By following this principle, we can avoid settling for less and focus on what truly matters to us.
Which 3 things do you recommend to every visitor to experience when visiting the place you live in?
Dumaguete City, often referred to as the City of Gentle People, is a captivating destination filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. For every visitor, I wholeheartedly recommend experiencing these three essential aspects of this charming place.
Indulge in Sans Rival’s Silvanas: Your visit to Dumaguete would be incomplete without savoring the delectable silvanas at Sans Rival. These heavenly treats were born here, and tasting the original recipe is a must. The melt-in-your-mouth goodness will leave you craving for more.
Explore Valencia’s Sunday Market: On a Sunday morning, make your way to Valencia’s bustling Sunday Market, which runs from 6 am to 12 noon. This market is a culinary treasure trove, offering a wide array of delicious and affordable food from various local businesses. Sip on aromatic coffee and sample a diverse range of dishes while immersing yourself in the local flavors.
Apo Island’s Giant Turtles: Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers should not miss the opportunity to visit Apo Island. Book a group tour through Mabuhay Dumaguete and embark on a short 45-minute boat ride to reach this pristine island. Here, you can swim with the majestic giant turtles in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable memories. Do not forget to try Mabuhay Dumaguete’s mouthwatering kimchi rice and Korean Fried Chicken!
Bonus: While in the vicinity, consider a stay or walk-in at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, the largest resort in the province, just minutes away from Mabuhay Dumaguete. This exquisite retreat promises an Instagram-worthy experience that complements the city’s charm.
Dumaguete City is a place where history, culture, and nature come together to offer a memorable and enriching journey. Enjoy your time in this gem of the Philippines!
Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or teleport?
I would opt for teleportation without a doubt. My love for travel, particularly exploring the enchanting islands and pristine beaches of the Philippines, is a significant part of my life. Being invisible might allow me to observe in secrecy, but I would rather teleport to these stunning destinations and share the beauty of our world with others. While my social media presence only offers a glimpse of who I am, it has allowed me to connect with people from around the globe, fostering a real sense of connection and shared experiences. Teleportation would let me continue this journey of exploration and connection on a more profound level.
How do you like to spend your free time?
In a world where free time is a precious commodity, I choose to embrace every moment with a passion for life. I find my solace in the depths of the ocean, where I practice the art of freediving, exploring the boundless beauty beneath the waves. But my quest for knowledge does not stop there. I am a curious soul, drawn to the intricate tapestry of societal issues that shape our world. I devour articles and research, seeking to understand and empathize. And when I am not immersed in the deep blue or unraveling the complexities of our world, I am expanding my horizons. I dedicate myself to continuous self-improvement, learning new skills through the wealth of free online tutorials. Each day is an opportunity to grow, to adapt, and to become a better version of myself. For me, free time is not about idleness; it is a canvas waiting to be painted with experiences, knowledge, and accomplishments. I live with an unquenchable desire to engage, to explore, and to create.
If you could time travel, what will you like to witness or experience?
I have always been the kind of person who overthinks, overprepares, and overanalyzes. I have often found myself fixated on the uncertain future, allowing anxiety to cloud my present moments. But as I have grown older, I have come to realize that life is a beautiful combination of the past, the present, and the future, and each thread contributes to the masterpiece of our existence. But if given the power to traverse time, I would choose to revisit my past, not to erase my mistakes, for they are the brushstrokes that have painted the canvas of my being. Instead, I would journey back to enhance and refine the chapters of my life, to ensure that the symphony of my experiences plays a more harmonious tune.
There were moments in my past where opportunities gleamed like uncut diamonds, but I, in my youthful ignorance, let them slip through my fingers like grains of sand. Regrets have lingered, but I have learned that even in the face of missed chances, the present holds the power to redefine our trajectory.
This is why I have been labeled “unstoppable,” yet I have often found myself at crossroads where I believed I had come to a halt. I have indeed stopped many times, but it is within these pauses, within the moments of reflection and reinvention, that I have discovered my true strength. I am not the same person who started this journey, and I am grateful for that. Each pause, each reawakening, has made me a bit more determined and a tad less vulnerable.
So, if I could traverse the corridors of time, I would embrace the stopping points as opportunities for growth, resilience, and transformation. Life is a journey, and I have come to understand that it is not about erasing our past, but rather, it is about rewriting our future with the wisdom we have gathered along the way.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Aiko. One question before we end, how do you define “sexy”?
“Sexy,” to me, is a deeply personal and subjective concept. It transcends the superficial and societal standards, finding its essence in the individual’s perception. It is not a label I apply to someone else; it is a feeling they own within themselves.
True sexiness is a combination of daring, comfort, and confidence. It is the audacity to be authentically you, unapologetically and fearlessly. It is not about conforming to external ideals but celebrating your uniqueness. Embracing your roots, whatever they may be, is a crucial part of this journey. It is about acknowledging and honoring your cultural, personal, and familial heritage, while still forging your own path.
Ultimately, “sexy” is an intimate knowledge of who you are. It is a self-assuredness that radiates from within, drawing others toward your magnetic authenticity. It is about understanding your worth, cherishing your individuality, and reveling in the powerful allure of self-acceptance. In this way, “sexy” becomes a state of being that is not defined by anyone else but is a reflection of your own self-love – in knowing who you are beyond how others perceive you to be.
Follow the talented Aiko Kitane on
Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theaikokitane/
My go-to dive gears (owned by my partner): https://www.instagram.com/saltandsunlifestyle/
My business: https://www.instagram.com/aikonic.crafts/
Experience the perfect blend of art and adventure with an outdoor tattoo session with Mae Omondang (@tattedbymae) of Island Tattoo & Piercing Studio from Pacifico, Siargao. This unique experience is tailor-made for the adventurous souls who seek to combine the beauty of ink with the thrill of exploration.
This tattoo bears a special significance. The design is my personal creation – a powerful testament to overcoming the tendency of being a people pleaser. Before embarking on this journey to Siargao, imposter syndrome weighed heavily on my mind. The inked portrayal encapsulates a journey of self-liberation and humble transformation. The various hand sizes symbolize the mighty waves of Siargao. Each wave is a reminder that one need not bend over backward to appease everyone to reach the pinnacle of success. The woman gracefully surfing these waves is a representation of myself who is undergoing this transformation – a celebration of personal growth, resilience, and courage.
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