A sexy actress during the 1990s is now a chef and restaurateur in her hometown in Albay.
Aya Medel, who was known as “Papaya Queen,” discussed her journey from posing nude in front of a camera to starting her own restaurant named IshiAya’s Garden Bistro.
“Nagluluto na talaga ako noon pa. I didn’t know what to do with my life pag wala sa showbiz so pinush ko ‘yung career sa kusina,” she said.
Medel started her career in films when she was cast as an extra in 1997’s “Nakalimot sa Pag-Ibig” directed by Artemio Marquez. She revealed that she was asked to do a rape scene, which she took professionally.
“I don’t care kung naghuhubad ako basta marami akong projects. Kasi I know hindi ito tatagal. Nag-eenjoy lang ako sa set. Pero after, naiiyak ako,” she said.
“Dapat kasi ine-enjoy ko ang teen life, nasa school. Pero matigas ang ulo ko at gusto ko kumita. Hindi naman ako nagagalaw. Trabaho lang ito,” she added.
She went on to star in several other films such as “Babae sa Bubungang Lata” (1997) and “Venus” (2001). Her peak came when she was recognized by the University of the Philippines for her role in the 1999 film “Sisa.”
“May talent talaga siya. High siya on emotional IQ. She’s able to survive on whatever role she’s given,” entertainment writer George Vail Kabristante said.
She disappeared from the limelight after she figured in a car accident that reportedly left her in critical condition.
With nothing to return to, she left the country with a Japanese businessman named Yoji Hayakawa, with whom she married and had her daughter, Ishi.
The couple, however, separated. She returned to the country and quickly decided to pursue a career as a chef, which saw her graduate at the renowned Center for Asian Culinary Studies in 2008.
Asked about why she decided to set up her first restaurant in Bicol, she said: “Nandoon ‘yung pamilya ko. Mas low cost ang living doon. I’m just being practical.” (MNS)