Today, the world lost a beautiful soul.
I will always remember that time because after I did a mind-reading act for him, one of the first things AJ told me was that he used to work with mentalists as well, so he knew how I do what I do. And he wasn't kidding. The man could've been a genuine Mind Master if he ever decided he wanted to do it. He was, on first impression, the kind of man who had everything he needed to get any woman he desired.
Here was a guy who looked like a complete heartthrob, then the very next moment, I found out that he helmed the site Bakla Ako, May Reklamo? AJ, in two words, broke stereotypes. Like a boss.
I even chuckled when, in a subsequent conversation, he mentioned that he had several gorgeous girlfriends before he came out, easily destroying the self-esteem of all the straight men who were within earshot when he said it. Because they knew it was true: AJ's appeal crossed gender lines like nobody's business. He was just awesome like that.
He was feisty and he stood strong for his beliefs. His blog entries were rife with the passion he had for the things he believed in. Whether it was advocating gay rights, or taking misbehaving bloggers to task, or just reading a certain restaurant the riot act for their rude treatment of bloggers, he wrote with conviction and he stood by everything he would say.
Did I also mention how much I loved Bloggers Da Who? That site was just amazing, and what the community needed at the time. Heck, I think the community needs it to this very day. Like, now na.
As time went by, it seemed funny to me how I came to appreciate AJ, because here was someone who proudly announced that he was gay and outright dared anyone to tell him they had a problem with that, yet the first thing I would always remember about AJ wasn't the fact that he was gay, but how great a person he really was. I guess that's what makes writing this very difficult right now: knowing that this great person is no longer with us.
In 2008, he was one of the four hosts of the Philippine Blog Awards, along with myself, Tiffy, and Kring. I had fond memories of how full of life AJ was that night. If anything, I still can't believe I'm writing a eulogy for him to this very moment. That night in 2008 made anyone who knew him and saw him that night feel that he was immortal and would live on forever.
Pictured: Quadruple Fabulousness. And, oh,
left of Quadruple Fabulousness, Kring, Tiffy, and myself.
But yes, AJ will live on forever, in the hearts of each and every one of us. For the nearly 29 years he has spent upon this planet, he has left his mark on so many of us. And as his friends, we mourn his passing, but choose to stay strong, to keep calm, and to carry on, through his very example.
It's fitting that in the life of Mr. "Bakla Ako, May Reklamo?", the only reklamo we have is that he was gone too soon. Far, far too soon.
Thank you, AJ. When we're lost, we can look, and in our hearts, we will find you. Time. After. Time.
If you wish to help AJ's family in their time of need and grief, 1000 Volunteers For AJ is the best hub to extend that aid, and all necessary details will be there.
Other blogposts by friends who will all miss AJ:
Poyt Salazar - Adieu, AJ!
Juned Sonido - My Friend, AJ Matela
Marck Rimorim - Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Mica Rodriguez - In Loving Memory Of AJ Matela
Gail Dela Cruz-Villanueva - For AJ