Saturday, April 23, 2011

Farewell AJ

Ate Sarah pack up na ba ako?
One thing I missed hearing from AJ is every time he would ask me if he's done for the long day's shoot.

AJ's surprise birthday cake at Abt Ur Luv, Ur Lyf 2 set

The very first time my Executive Producer handed me the cast list for an upcoming teen youth oriented show, Star Magic Presents Abt Ur Luv, I was stunned to see the long list of artists. It was like being handed down by your school principal the list of students you'll be teaching for the whole school year! Except for Rayver and Shaina, the rest of the cast were relatively new. You can only imagine the confusion, we, the production staff experienced during the first taping day. We needed to memorize all 20 plus of them, their roles, real names and faces.
Star Magic Presents Abt Ur Luv Cast
Aj or Antonello Joseph Sarte Perez was one of the few who arrived on our first shoot which also was the first scene of our pilot episode. I can still remember how he tried to work on his Ilonggo accent. So what I learned about AJ during our 2 years of working together?
AJ with the rest of Astigs cast previews their scene
At such a young age, AJ can be seen as a hard working man. He started with us when he was still 14 years old. He always asked directors and staff how he did after the take. He was persistent and very eager to improve on his skills. I remember during our first presscon and saw the way he danced back then. He's way too far from how he dances now in ASAP, it was impressive.

AJ left me and the production staff with really good memories. The way we felt that first kilig moment while editing his scene with Lauren Young (he has this natural charm that is very Rico Yan in style) and how our editor likes him so much. Also, the many Voice Overs we did at the 3rd flr of ELJ, his proud moments of being a Lasallian and how happy he was when he learned that I'm also from La Salle,  the show's ala-High School Musical episode especially the scene we shot on the 13th flr of ABS (watch the video clip below) and best of all, AJ's surprise birthday cake we got for him on the night of our shoot in Matabungkay, Batangas.

Aj and Lauren singing (music composed by RJ Jimenez)

A year after the show ended, we've been wanting to set up a reunion but it never really pushed through. Then on April 18, 2011, the sad reunion happened.

I learned from Cinema One's video tribute played during the wake on an interview with Direk Don Cuaresma of Sabel that there would be times when AJ would come to the set in school uniform right after his school and would sometimes get off the set already dressed in school uniform after a 4am pack up. He is that determined to finish his studies even if it's hard to balance school and work. Last March 2011, AJ graduated from high school and has been setting his eyes on taking up Business Administration in La Salle. His recent graduation reminded me of the time he graduated in grade school, we all congratulated him during taping. Time flies and it just flew so fast for AJ.
Star Magic Presents Astigs cast with direk Eric and Gov. LRay during our last taping day in CamSur
(You can view more behind the scenes photos at Travel Journal)

Our dear AJ, you have been our 'Josh', our 'Wave' and our 'Tyler' but most importantly, I will always remember you as that young La Sallian who provided the warmest and sweetest smile on the set.

Rest in peace AJ. You've done a pretty good job on and off screen. 

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