Why this ‘Cool Cat’ finds romantic love not so cool

Singer-songwriter Ashley Aunor is a recording artist for Star Music of
ABS-CBN who recently had an album launch at Academy of Rock, a stone’s throw from
ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City. 

Academy of Rock is a pop music school and recording studio co-owned by some ABS-CBN top stars and executives, including Jonathan Manalo, Star Music’s creative director. 

Ashley’s older sister Marion, also a Star Music artist, was at the album launch not only to support her sister but also to present to her a birthday cake since the day coincided with Ashley’s 21st birthday. 

“Ashley is more serious than I am about working out in the gym. She now also pays attention to what she eats better than I do,” Marion revealed about her baby sister. 

Showbiz idol

Ashley presents herself to the world as Cool Cat Ash. She has decided not to use the Aunor surname to distinguish herself from sister Marion and also from their mom, Maribel “Lala” Aunor, a top showbiz idol herself in the ‘70s. Lala was part of an informal group then known as “Apat na Sikat,” along with Arnold Gamboa, Dondon Nakar and Winnie Santos (a niece of Vilma Santos). 

Lala is a cousin of Nora Aunor, and it was Lala’s mother, Belen Aunor, who took care of Nora during her teens so she could join the iconic TV amateur singing contest Tawag ng Tanghalan, where Nora emerged as grand champion during her teens. 

Nora’s mother is a sister of Belen, and the now National Artist for Film and Broadcast Media is actually not an Aunor but a Villamayor. Nora’s poor family, from Iriga, Albay (Nora had to sell drinking water at the train station to augment the family income) decided to use Aunor when she joined Tawag ng Tanghalan because she was joining a second audition just weeks after she had failed to make it as a contestant under the name Nora Villamayor. 

Lala’s mother acted as manager (then known as “talent scout”) to Nora. It was Belen who knew how to sing and play the guitar and the violin, since she was a member of a church choir in Bicol before she married a member of the Philippine Air Force who was an Aunor. Belen had to join her husband at the PAF base in Guadalupe, Makati, then still known as Nichols Air Base. 

The mother of Ashley and Marion is well-off. After showbiz, Lala mastered the business of recruiting talents for abroad as well as organizing foreign concerts for Pinoy stars. Lala hardly talks about the father of her two daughters, and the daughters also do not talk about their father. 

At the album launch, Ashley wore outfits designed by Albert Andrada, a top fashion designer. The publicity yarn from Star Music about Cool Cat Ash is that she is currently taking up a degree in Music Production at Berklee College in Boston. 

Understanding love

Cool Cat Ash’s album is said to be her “journey of seeking and understanding love.” The album consists of 11 tracks, all written and produced by Cool Cat Ash.

Hindi ko in-expect na ilalabas ko itong songs in the first place. Star Music encouraged me to write more upbeat and pop songs because they believed in me. So I’m very happy that they supported me in that way,” said the artist.

In the key track “i find love. so. so. weird,” Cool Cat Ash details the vulnerability of love and how it can be scary to fall for someone.

“It’s all about me finding love so weird kasi medyo allergic ako sa romantic love. I feel like I’m too scared to fall deeply in love and I’m scared of being vulnerable and intimate with anyone. For this, na-feel ko yung peer pressure mula sa mga taong nahanap na ‘yung taong mahal nila,” she explained. 

In “Let You Go,” she reminisces about past relationships. ‘’’Let You Go’ is a song I wrote that revolves around the concept of right person, wrong time. It talks about the dilemma of deciding whether you should hold on to your hopes of ending up with the one that got away or just let go of them and move on,” she said.

As a recording artist, Cool Cat Ash has released several singles including “Changes,” “Best Friend” and “Gone Too Soon.”

She was hailed Rock Artist of the Year at the PMPC Star Awards 2022 and Novelty Artist of the Year in 2021, while her song “Mataba” won Novelty Song of the Year. She is a part of the songwriting and production duo “Aunorable Productions” with sister Marion. She also works as a songwriter, producer, sound engineer and film scorer.