An intimate Mass and Tribute for AJ PEREZ.
Last Monday night, April 18, 2011 I visited the wake of AJ Perez at the La Salle Greenhills. My intention was to attend the mass and tribute to him. Thanks to fellow friends in ABSCBN who was there to extend their condolences. The solemn mass spearheaded by Father Caluag and the tribute is so private that i chose not to take some photos for this article. I also live twitting during the Tribute to share the messages and speeches from the people very dear to him.
I remember Sunday morning when I first heard of the news, I got three missed calls, multiple BBMs and DMs on twitter confirming about the news but I was sleeping. People were asking me being a local TV follower of events and have common friends to AJ. Until I woke up by around 3 am and that’s how the news dazed me. I can’t help but cry while reading the news that AJ PEREZ, the one who wears a very optimistic smile, has died due to vehicular accident at Tarlac from a successful Dagupan show.
When we arrived at La Salle Greenhills, I noticed that the Gate 6 was already crowded. Eric John Salut, Ad Prom Head of ABSCBN was the one doing most of the touches for the tribute, of course with the help of some friends and family. Father Caluag’s homily was really heart-warming when he mentioned about temporary life we have on earth. One thing that hit me was when father said, “There’s no such thing as untimely death.” After the mass I was able to see him, AJ. He was just like sleeping peacefully. He was like lying and closing his eyes. My tears fell.
Then at around 7.25 pm, The tribute started. Two friends who took the liberty to stand in front were Robi Domingo and Valeen Montenegro. They were saying that a good friend who made us laugh, fall in love, and cry in the movies and TV, has left us. I admire them for doing the part despite the heavy heart they were having that night, they stood up to do the tribute. Looking at everyone around, I can feel the loneliness inside the chapel, my tears fell.
Then Carla Humphries was called. She was crying even before she said anything. She was sharing the friendship she had with AJ, how humble and very nice guy AJ was.
“He always knew his priorities.. AJ had the best smile “ Carla continued.
“He is my ideal perfect future boyfriend” then she can’t help but continue crying.
Carla remember the time when they always tease each other about how good friend AJ was. She said he will really be missed, definitely.
Then Robi and Valeen called Direk Lino Cayetano to give his speech. He was teasing about the tribute should be a light as possible. But he can’t help but reminisce how passionate AJ was as a young actor. He said “If there are two things that you would remember about AJ, one is kindness and the one is passion.” He remember when the head of the network asked him to do a series for AJ and the rest of the gigger boys. “AJ was a very nice guy. He really has a passion in everything he do.” Direk also mentioned about how proud AJ when he graduated highschool and how excited he was to enter college in La Salle. Everyone is listening silently.
Then it was Sam Concepcion who took the floor to sing. When he started to hit the first few lines of the song Gone Too Soon, everyone is in tears including myself. The song is a real reflection of love and memories. After the emotional rendition of the song, he gave a very tight hug to AJ’s parent. I can really feel how hard it was for Sam.
Then it was AJ’s friends and classmates’ turn from DLSU to speak for him. Headed by Master Carlo Miranda, he shared how ordinary classmate AJ was to them. “Sa aming barkada kahit sya ang pinakasikat, mas mayabang pa rin kami sa kanya. Ganon sya kahumble.” They would always remember AJ as a very hardworking student. From taping to classes, he always make it a point not to miss their subjects. They also prepared a VTR tribute to AJ.
A cousin of AJ also gave his speech telling how grateful he was to AJ. Then followed by an ABSCBN VTR tribute entitled “The rise of a very promising star” where it showed the last interviews they had for AJ and some testimonials from people he worked with.
After the video, Gary Valenciano stood up and share some insights about the situation. He said AJ is a humble, silent “very magalang” guy. And how a simple smile from AJ can make a lot of difference. He also shared a story about how good AJ was to people around him. A good example was when his daughter performed on ASAP the very first time and all AJ did was to say, “You did a good job.” Gary V. believes that AJ has a very good heart in uplifting one another. He applauded AJ’s parent for raising a very wonderful child. Gary V said that AJ is a Halo Kid. But now he considers him as Halo Hero. And then Gary V render a very touching song of his own, Warrior is A Child. He also sang HOME. Gary V on his message that hit me was his emphasis on Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
Then another mass was held sponsored by the La Salle Greenhills. The tribute was indeed memorable. I am sure he will always be missed. I may not be that close to AJ but seeing him in the hallway of ABSCBN wearing a smile, it gives a lot of encouragement to everyone.
We will miss him.
And after that, the public viewing for the benefit of the fans started.