Kristel Fulgar looks back at her Seoul adventure and looks forward to what’s next, both personally and professionally.
Kristel Fulgar has come a long way from being the child actress we first got to know on Goin’ Bulilit. A successful career in acting soon led her to a presence on YouTube, where she built a following mainly for her Korean content. And speaking of it, Kristel has had a bit of a moment in South Korea over the past months after a study trip blossomed into the star getting an endorsement deal and guesting on Korean television. Talk about learning on the job.
From the outside looking in, it seemed as if Kristel, who is currently represented by NYMA in the Philippines, was ready to be the next Hallyu star. But to hear it from the actress herself, her Korean escapades were just a chapter of her ever-evolving career that still has so much to offer.
A SEOUL SENSATION
When Kristel made her long-delayed move to Korea last year, the trip was solely meant for her studies and to do some traveling on the side. But life had other plans for her. It all made for a development she understandably didn’t see coming. “[E]verything came in as a surprise for me (and a blessing which I’m so grateful for). I went to South Korea with studying and traveling only in mind,” she says in an interview with NYLON Manila.
Contrary to what some have said on social media, Kristel’s trip to Korea wasn’t a permanent move, it was, as she describes it, “a treat for myself.” “Before flying [to South Korea], I made sure to settle all my tasks and businesses in the Philippines so that balancing my time won’t be a problem. I spent my time in Korea mostly studying, eating, and exploring, or should I say, ‘living in the moment.’” But even if she was living alone in another country, her family was always top of mind for Kristel. “The only thing that I had to consistently do is to check on my family and friends back in the Philippines. Sharing my experiences with them is a must.”
Even if her sojourn in the Korean entertainment industry was brief, it opened her eyes to how the Koreans operate as compared to the local industry she’s been working in for over two decades. “In terms of content quality, it’s nice to see local TV shows and films trying more complex storytelling and improved visuals nowadays; just like GMA’s ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’ which gained traction on social media until now since showcasing an integral part of our history is not something you commonly see on Philippine entertainment.”
But in the land of the Hallyu wave, she appreciates the Koreans’ professionalism. “They value the time of everyone, so even extras (background actors) are paid by the hour. I also commend how Koreans are reasonably punctual and usually prompt,” expresses Kristel, sighting the smooth shoot she had with Julyme as an example.
NOT THE FANTASY
Her time in Seoul, as well as her documented brushes with Korean culture, has made many see Kristel as the standard when it comes to living those Hallyu dreams. But the actress and YouTuber admits that she doesn’t see it that way. In the past, Kristel has opened up about how she’s not ready to enter the Korean entertainment industry as she needs to improve her Hangul.
For her, she doesn’t feel that she should be put on a pedestal for living the Korean fantasy. “Honestly, I don’t think I’m the most credible person to advise or talk about chasing Hallyu dreams because I’m not even there yet. I may have had a few opportunities in South Korea, but to set foot in their entertainment scene is currently not on my top priority list.”
What she is taking away from her time living in Korea are the life lessons she’s ready to apply in her own life. Appreciating new friendships, being more independent, and knowing the value of money are all nuggets of wisdom she’s taking to heart. But the most lasting impact she’s realized was just how precious time is. “We are only given a limited time to live, so might as well make the most out of it and do the things that would make you happy. For me, there is nothing more important in life than family, relationships, and happiness.”
Its these learnings that Kristel is also looking to share with the world as she, and fellow YouTuber Moy Esguerra, will be co-hosting a new podcast called Anyare Saeyo. The cleverly-titled podcast is set to go live on May 31 on ANIMA Pods which will see the two explore K-dramas, Korean cuisine, fashion and lifestyle trends, and travel through their Pinoy POV all while discussing life lessons in between.
Given her realization of the importance of time, it’s no wonder that Kristel has been making the most of it. Her Korean moment was a chapter in her story as more adventurous, not to mention travels, were waiting for her. And such was the case when she recently jetted off to Europe to explore different countries. If the solo European escapades she shared on social media looked like a bucket list moment, that was because it was.
“I can describe [my Europe trip] as a breath of fresh air. Even before the pandemic, touring around Europe is a bucket list of mine that goes way back. The experience was frightening at first since I didn’t know what to expect as a first-timer, yet it was so freeing and fulfilling all at the same time.”
Traveling, especially to a destination for the first time, can bring about a sense of wonder, growth, and much more. Those are all things Kristel went through as she managed to visit Spain, Portugal, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in just a span of ten days, without getting exhausted and staying on budget. “The continent is filled with diverse countries, cultures, cuisines, history, and languages making my whole trip educational, amusing, and just simply fun,” shared the well-traveled star.
Given how her passport has been stamped across all four corners of the world, Kristel knows a thing or two about making the most of your travels, and, in fact, sights three major tips to achieve just that. First, where you plan on going should be key to your research. “Aside from it can significantly improve your experience, it shall also entice and motivate you to make it happen. No one wants it to be just another ‘drawing.’”
Second, and it goes without saying, get that piggy bank started for that dream trip. “Set your budget and work around that in planning your getaway. As a tipid, I always check for special offers/discounts for significant savings. But most of all, work ahead! Secure your finances to be able to entirely relax during your trip.” Finally, leave all that stress behind by just enjoying the moment. “Take advantage of the activities, eat that exotic food, talk to the locals, visit those tourist spots, capture the moment. You’ve done a lot of work to plan that trip, now is the time to make the most out of it!”
A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
With over 20 years in the industry, Kristel Fulgar is a household name to many. From child star to certified actress, YouTube content creator, and more, Kristel Fulgar has lived a life many could only dream of. But more so than sharing her talents on public platforms, it is traveling that has proven to be her catalyst to change and evolve as an individual.
It isn’t a project or an acting role that serves as Kristel’s guiding star these days, but the sense of wanderlust that travel can bring her as she explores new cultures and creates lasting memories through traveling.
“Kristel Fulgar in 2023 is in the process of enriching her life with around-the-world travel,” she muses. “I’m now 28, and my goal is to visit 30 countries before I turn 30. Traveling has made me an incredibly more well-rounded person. The challenges and opportunities that come with it help me discover who I am. Who would’ve imagined that the little girl who once cried over a bracelet during Goin’ Bulilit days would have the courage to travel the world alone, right?”
Kristel currently has a boatload of travel vlogs in the works. But, just because the 28-year-old is currently in her explorer era, that doesn’t mean she’s turned her back completely on acting. Her passion for the craft remains and is willing to make her small or silver screen return for the right project. “I would love to have a comeback if given a good opportunity and an interesting character to portray.”
YET TO COME
Kristel Fulgar has been one of the few celebrities who showed what it means to transition from traditional media to digital space. She may even be a pioneer with how secure her acting legacy is all while commanding an audience in the millions on YouTube. These two aspects will always be intrinsically linked to who she is. “I would be lying if I say that I don’t miss doing teleseryes and movies, that’s why I’m very vocal with my openness in re-entering traditional media as long as there is a good opportunity.”
She adds, “My YouTube channel served as my outlet in showcasing a previously unseen side of me when I was still just in showbiz. I have built a connection with fans by documenting snippets of my life, and I plan to keep it that way for now.”
After spending nearly all of her life in the spotlight and playing all kinds of roles, the Kristel Fulgar of 2023 is ready to focus on herself. A lot has been said about what Kristel is going to do next in her life. Where exactly she goes with her career, only time will tell. But whatever life has in store for her, Kristel is making it known that this 2023, she won’t compromise herself for anything as she strives to, “make my heart happy and feel at peace.”