Alexa Ilacad finds peace at the Pinoy Big Brother house

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Actress, singer, and former PBB housemate Alex Ilacad released the electro-pop single "Paano" last Jan. 21. Photo courtesy of OFF THE RECORD

When actress and singer Alexa Ilacad entered the Pinoy Big Brother house for the show’s 10th season last October, there were many moments where she considered leaving.

“It's a really stressful reality show that challenges you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” she says in an interview with CNN Philippines Life. “It's not really the perfect house for someone who is dealing with depression. That's what I would tell myself when I was at my lowest. Like, "Girl, are you serious? Should you get out now when you can?"

The experience, she says, was tough, but also an opportunity to “open the eyes of people who are not so educated about mental health.” Audiences will recall her struggles in the house, and how the show’s psychologist-psychiatrist Dr. Randy Dellosa diagnosed her with major depressive disorder caused by body dysmorphic disorder.

“I just took PBB as a chance to open up how I felt because I know that someone out there needs to hear na yung pinapanood nila sa TV ay tao lang din who are going through the same things as anyone else and going through the same hurt as anyone else,” says Ilacad. “I'm not supposed to be put on a pedestal or to be seen as the ‘so glamorous’ girl because I'm just like anyone else. I'm glad that people took it really well and ang dami rin nag-open up and na-inspire doon sa story,” she adds.

Evicted last December, she confesses that the whole experience was a lesson in opening up to others — something that she’s found helpful to her songwriting. Last Jan. 21, Ilacad released “Paano,” an electro-pop heartbreak anthem produced in collaboration with her best friend, Gracenote’s vocalist Eunice Jorge.

Ilacad first wrote “Paano” in 2016. Fresh from a heartbreak, she took to her notes app to write down everything she was feeling at the time. Jorge, meanwhile, was responsible for giving it a refreshed pop sound. “I know I'm not the best songwriter, but when I make something, I don't want someone to change it because it's my child,” she says of her usual approach to songwriting. Collaborating with Jorge was a lesson in trust. “She really taught me that's why you have a producer. You have to collaborate and be open to criticism, to comments about it,” she says of her best friend.

Below, Ilacad tells CNN Philippines Life about her new single and why she’s thankful for her time as a PBB housemate.