The picture of young actor AJ Perez standing beside a portrait of the late actor Rico Yan made more poignant the parallelism noted by ABS-CBN executives about the two young stars.
"If he gets the right breaks, he'd be like a Rico Yan," Johnny Manahan—the chairman emeritus of the network's talent arm, Star Magic—boldly told YES! (May 2011) in an interview for the magazine's list of showbiz faces to watch for.
Mr. Manahan had voted him in as part of ABS-CBN's "The Next Big Thing." This meant that AJ, among hundreds of hopefuls, was among a dozen or so who were going to be given every opportunity to shine in the next three years. The network believed in him.
Obviously, Mr. Manahan's comparison of AJ and Rico hit a chord with the industry. The two boys did share similar backgrounds and traits: Both look wholesome, possess boyish good looks, and fit the idea of would-be matinee idols; both are promising actors with the charisma to last long in a fickle industry; and both are proud La Sallians.
Sadly, AJ and Rico also shared a fate no one could have anticipated or wished for: Both were taken away from this world too soon. They were at the peak of their youth.
The shocking death of AJ last Sunday, April 17, while on his way home to Manila from a provincial show once again reminded us of the celebrities who passed away at an early age.
Young stars like Julie Vega, Miko Sotto, Marky Cielo, Joel Alano, and Alfie Anido, among others, left not just image and career behind with their unexpected demise.
They left unfulfilled all the promise and potential that they had been privileged to have.
CLICK HERE to read and see photos of local celebrities who died young.