Kapamilya young actress Jessy Mendiola could relate to the pain and loss felt by AJ Perez’s classmates and teachers from La Salle Greenhills.
At last night’s memorial mass held at the Christ the King Chapel at Greenmeadows Subdivision, AJ’s batchmates and high school teachers praised the late actor’s desire to juggle both his studies and budding showbiz career.
AJ—who died last April 17 from a vehicular accident while on his way back to Manila—graduated from high school last March 20. He intended to pursue a Marketing course, according to AJ’s father. (CLICK HERE to read related article.)
Jessy personally witnessed AJ’s commitment to finish high school, while at the same time putting the same effort when it comes to his acting assignments during the time they’re both doing ABS-CBN’s primetime drama series, Sabel.
Sabel’s taping took the cast to locations outside Manila, like Laguna and Tagaytay, which required AJ to sometimes bring a spare school uniform since shootings could usually drag on until the following day.
"Kunwari galing siya ng school, naka-uniform pa rin siya didiretso siya ng taping. Tapos pagdating niya ng taping, magwu-work siya," Jessy told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other reporters after the eulogy service prepared by the late actor’s friends.
"Tapos minsan, makikita mo siya magbabasa ng script, tapos homework niya gagawin niya. Tapos after nun, pag uwian na, magbibihis siya ulit ng uniform kasi babalik na siya ng school."
LOST OPPORTUNITIES. Jessy also recalled AJ feeling worried at times because he was uncertain of his acting capabilities brought about by the fact that his attention was equally divided between studies and work.
But AJ still decided to continue both school and showbiz despite conflicting demands and schedule.
"Kaya nga kanina, yung sinasabi nila na kaka-graduate pa lang ni AJ, parang napakasakit din sa amin na close sa kanya kasi alam namin kung gaano niya pinaghirapan yung school niya ’tsaka yung break niya sa Sabel.
"Talagang pinagsabay niya kasi nung nasa Sabel pa lang kami. Parang iniisip niya kung gagawin niya yung show dahil nga sa school.
"Tapos sinasabi pa nga niya sa akin, ’Paano pag pinalitan nila ako? Sino kaya ang kapalit ko?’ Sabi ko sa kanya, ’Hindi ka nila papalitan.’
"Hanggang sa nakuha niya yung role, tapos pinapagpatuloy pa rin niya ang school niya.
"Dun talaga ako bilib na bilib sa kanya kasi tinapos talaga niya yung studies niya kahit ganun ka-hectic yung school niya," said Jessy.
The last time Jessy saw AJ was a week before the accident, and the actress had no inkling that it would be her final interaction with the 18-year-old actor and former Sabel co-star.
"Huli kaming nagkita sa ASAP," she remembered. "Mabilis lang kasi alam naman namin sa isa’t isa na magkikita kami ulit."
Jessy continued reminiscing: "Parang lagi lang kaming nagkikita, lagi lang kaming nag-uusap sa BBM [BlackBerry Messenger], sa Twitter nag-aasaran.
"Nag-bye lang kami. Nagulat lang ako and hindi ko akalain na a week later wala na siya."
The young actress described AJ as "genuine" and "sincere," and someone who, despite his shy demeanor, would never hesitate to express his feelings to others.
"Hindi siya natatakot magsabi kung ano ang gusto niyang sabihin, ganun siyang klaseng tao. Kaya pag dine-describe namin si AJ, una naming sinasabi na napaka-sincere niya kasi wala kang maririnig na kahit anong masama tungkol sa kanya.
"Wala ka ring maririnig na masama na sasabihin niya tungkol sa ibang tao. Parati siyang positive, palagi siyang genuine sa lahat ng sasabihin niya—ayun yung pinakamaganda kay AJ."