Steph Ayson: ‘AJ taught me how to love’

Friends and colleagues of AJ Perez paid their final respects to the late actor at his requiem on Monday, April 25, at the Christ the King Parish in Quezon City, a day before he was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.

Among those who delivered eulogies for the actor were his high school batchmates and teacher at La Salle Greenhills, where AJ finished his high school education.

Steph Ayson, the actor's non-showbiz girlfriend, also delivered a heartbreaking eulogy.

"I want to be a teacher, a lawyer, and suddenly a doctor. I want to be able to write well, to sing well, and to dance well. All of those changed except one. I knew I want to marry a guy. And his name was AJ Perez."

Steph narrated how she met AJ through a common friend and how she tried to act nonchalant during their first meeting when, in fact, her "emotions were screaming."

"I was a silly girl, writing our names beside each other. I was scribbling hearts and playing Flames and I would wake up every Saturday just to watch "About Your Love." I would sit in front of the TV and watch ASAP. I was a fan and I would like to think I was the biggest fan he had," Steph said.

The two met September of 2007. On Febraury 14, AJ asked Steph to be his girlfriend.

"Cheesy, but that's AJ. Cheesy, sweet, sincere. He wanted to promise me the world, but I asked him not to. Because I was too afraid to hurt him, but he promised anyway, and he kept each one of them. He asked for my full trust. I admitted I was having a difficulty, but showed me that he knows what trust means and he'll never do anything to break that," she narrated.

"He told me that even if I don't say 'I love you' back away or show him sweetness just like he would, his exact words were, 'I would wait a lifetime.'"

She added that while she felt mad about AJ's death, "if this is God's way of showing me forever, I accept it... AJ taught me how to love. He was very selfless. His love was the most pure thing on Earth. It was, in every way, unconditional. And probably that's the message here. He wants all of us to love the way he did also."

"He made me so happy, and even to his last day, he would talk to me and tell me that 'I want you always to be happy. I don't want you sad. I want you to smile a lot. You know why? Because I love you.' And I know as the days go by it will be very difficult but AJ would say he'd want us to be happy. That's the way he lived. He was happy," she said.

Steph ended her eulogy: "To my baby, you'll always be in my heart. Thank you for making my dreams come true. I'll take care of your family for you. And I'll love the way you loved me."

In his eulogy, Paul De Jesus, AJ's class adviser during his last year in high school, shared how the actor was just like any of his students—playful and sociable, with no star complex despite being a prominent celebrity.

"AJ was just like any of my sons in 4-C. Hindi po sya mayabang. No star complex at all. He gets along easily with his classmates. And just like any of my sons in 4-C, malako or clown din paminsan-minsan," De Jesus said.

Friends, colleagues remember AJ

Friends and colleagues in the industry also paid their respects during the last night of his wake, among them fellow Gigger Boys member Sam Concepcion, Kapuso stars Steven Silva and Sarah Lahbati, "Sabel" co-star Joseph Marco, entertainment columnist and talent manager Ogie Diaz, LSGH batchmate and "Mara Clara" star Albie Casino.

Jessy Mendiola, AJ's onscreen partner in his last television show "Sabel," described the actor as sincere and genuine.

"Hindi sya natatakot magsabi kung ano yung gusto nyang sabihin. Ganun syang klaseng tao. Kaya pagkadine-describe namin si AJ, lagi naming unang sinasabi na napaka sincere nya, kasi wala kang maririnig na kahit na masama tungkol sa kanya. Wala ka ring maririnig na masama na sasabihin nya tungkol sa ibang tao. Palagi syang positive. Palagi lang syang genuine sa lahat ng sinasabi nya," she said in an interview with members of the entertainment press.

Jessy was at home, just after rehearsals for ASAP Rocks, when she found about AJ's accident through a friend.

For her, it was painful to hear people's description of AJ as diligent and hardworking in his studies—especially since the "Sabel" staff saw first hand how he tried to balance his showbiz career and his studies.

"Sinasabi pa nga nya sa akin, 'Paano pa pinalitan nila ako? Sino kaya ang kapalit ko?' Sabi ko, 'Di ka nila mapapalitan, kasi ikaw lang na nakikita namin na pwede mag Dindo.'," she said.

Sam Milby described AJ as "laging happy."

"He's someone you want to be around because of his good energy, good vibes, and napakabait talaga. Such a bright future rin," he said.

"I just know that he's in a better place and I'm sure he's happy and that's for eternity na. But lahat kami, he touched a lot of lives and we'll just keep all the memories that we have of him," Sam added.

Sam went to the Christ the King Parish with KC Concepcion as soon as they arrived from their Star Magic World Tour.