Forever 30

Instead of my usual 30by30 posts, I thought I’d devote this weeks entry to my dear friend, Maj… A woman who will forever be 30 Flirty and Fabulous…

Photo snagged from her friend Joey A.
Maj was my classmate on my freshman year in high school. She was a transfer student, which sort of automatically made her popular in my class. I remember looking at her curiously, wondering why she was smiling all the time. She had a permanent twinkly crinkle on the side of her eyes from smiling too much, and she always cocked her head to the side whenever she talked. For a new student – she wasn’t shy at all! She was totally out there, super friendly, always happy, and completely confident. And after a few weeks, we found out she was extremely intelligent too! She really was ‘the whole package.’ And normally, the first reaction towards this kind of perfection is hatred… But then she was also too darn nice, she made it really difficult for everyone to hate her. This goes for teachers too. We teased her constantly about being the object of our Social Studies teacher’s affection (Mr. Cervantes). She was never bashful about it though… like everything else, she just responded to the teasing with her trademark head-cocked-to-the-side blinding smile.

Maj sharing cake on her birthday, Freshman year
But it wasn’t until our Junior year that we became really good friends. We weren’t classmates anymore – she was in the honors class (of course) and I was in the Religion Extension Class (which was a class that dedicated time to outreach programs and such… do-gooders, basically). On the first day of school, we found out that we both had gone to the States over the summer, and both discovered AND got obsessed with – Hanson.


We whipped out our CD’s with gusto, I braided a portion of her hair like Taylor Hanson’s buntot, and we were inseparable ever since. We wrote each other letters pretending to be Taylor, Isaac or Zac. At this point, we also got into the Backstreet Boys, so our letters doubled with senders coming from Nick Carter and Howie Dorough too. We devoured Teen Beat and Bop magazines, created magazines of our own, outdid each other with our creativity on the letters we sent… We were super duper cheesy, and we loved it!

We also took the same elective class --- FRENCH! It basically meant we could write those letters to each other in a different language. It also provided the time for us to hang out again a couple times a week, and it was great! I had been hearing funny rumors about Maj at this point. Comments about her style, her hair, her outfits (like the bright orange dress she wore to a debate class, apparently), even whether she had ‘enhanced’ a body part or not… She was definitely making a reputation for herself. But all of that didn’t exist in my relationship with her though. As far as we were concerned, we were two big cheesy kids wrapped up in a fantasy we had created for ourselves, in love with three boys who looked like girls, and we had the time of our lives.

It was fate that brought us together in college too. I was completely surprised to see her on my first day of school in De La Salle University, and even more surprised that we were on the same block! I thought she had plans to be a doctor, but she confessed that day that her fascination for the media enticed her more. So there we were, inseparable once again. We both took up Communication Arts, and we basically had all our classes together, up until we got to our majors. I chose to major in Film and Video, and she went for Journalism. But even so, we had mandatory major classes that we took together.
For our video production, tv production and cinematography classes, we both “hired” each other as main ‘talents’ or ‘characters’ for our projects. And being the true blue Scholasticans that we are/were, our productions were always bonggang bongga! As a matter of fact, our group of friends were responsible for the “Blair Witch Project” style of shooting being permanently BANNED from the Com Arts department. Haha!

Maj liked acronyms and she created one for our group of friends in college.  MAPTJEG. Maj, Andrea, Patrick, Tina, Jo, Eartha and George.
I did a video project that was my homage to the telenovela, “Rosalinda”, that I called, “Bonggalinda.” Instead of roses in her hair, there were Bugambilias (I actually thought that those flowers were called “Bonggambilya,” otherwise I’d have named my character “Bugalinda”). And of course, Maj was my Bonggalinda character. Only she could pull off the acting chops that I needed for my dramatic scene with sampalan and iyakan and gunshot wounds made with ketchup. Plus she looked exactly like Thalia. 
Maj, on the other hand, had different, more ‘creative’ plans for me. She had created a fictional superhero called “Super Wagi” which I played brilliantly, complete with a makeshift cape and mask. She also made her own Karaoke video of the song, “Simple Lang” by Mystika. Apparently, no one else but me could play the Mystica role... adorned with sexy outfits, a beanie with braids, polkadotted stockings, mouthing to lyrics she had me memorize that say, “Ang gusto ko sa lalaki, hindi masyadong malaki… ang katawan.”

Rejoicing upon the discovery of the digital camera 

Seriously, if you saw these videos we made, you would know and understand the kind of friendship we had. Our cinematography teacher Sir Guy Conception, upon seeing the Mystica video turned to Maj and said, “Magkaibigan talaga kayo 'no?” To which Maj laughed, and said – “Yes sir!”
Graduation day, Feb 2, 2002
Maj and I were thesismates as well, and went through some of the most stressful times of our lives shooting a documentary about a sunken village in Zambales. The Philippines’ “Atlantis” it was called. We shed blood, sweat and tears getting that documentary together. We rode through a mercury infested lake, got chased by a man who thought we were doing an expose’ on the mercury spillage from the mines, got our car pulled out from the sand by a kalabaw… It was hell. But we lived to tell the tale! Even got top marks for it! And after a few more grueling months, we graduated together… and being able to march side by side… that was heaven. :) 
We kept in touch constantly, and never lost our friendship. She continued to shine in the entertainment industry just like we all thought she would, and I moved to the States, like everyone thought I would. I was lucky to find a job that allowed me to travel to Manila to work a few times a year, and Maj made it her duty to make sure we (me, Maj and our college friends) all met up for dinner every time I did. Like my friend Jo said, she really was the glue that kept us all together. And based on all the nice things I've read on her wall, it looked like she was the same for all her other friends as well. Resilient as the day is long.

Death is a funny thing. Even if it’s a part of life and is technically expected out of each and everyone of us at some point, it still comes as a shock when it happens to someone close to us. I think I went through all of the stages of grief in one day – Shock & Denial, Pain & Grief, Anger, Depression, and finally, Acceptance & Hope.

I think I’m mostly just sad, because I’m going to miss my friend so much. :(
I keep thinking about random things, like when I taught Maj how to use the Internet, and I created her ever so popular “im_ur_majesty” email address for her. And in turn, she introduced me to Harry Potter. We always joked about how this made us even. Thinking about it now makes me laughcry.

Reading all the beautiful things people have been posting on her wall really makes me wish there were Facebook in heaven. I know she would have appreciated reading all of that. She meant so much to everyone, and she was so many things to so many people.

To me, Maj was like a big sister. Underneath her superstar persona, she was someone that I could be my true inner-child-self with… with no fear of judgement, because I knew she felt the same with me.
Maj was, and always will be, one of my oldest, truest, and dearest friends. 

Maj and I last Christmas, not knowing it would be the last time we'd ever see each other.  I ♥U too, dude...

The thought of not being able to see or talk to Maj again is difficult to swallow. But she always did say that she feared aging more than anything else…
Now, my dear friend will be young forever. She will always be remembered as the beautiful gorgeous bombshell she really was inside and out, and I don’t think she would have wanted it any other way.

Maj changed her profile pic back to the one where she was sitting on her couch, looking as regal as ever, a few days before she passed. And, almost prophetically, she used Leo C. Rosten’s quote as her caption, which reads:

"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be 'happy'. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

Well, I think we can all agree, that Maj accomplished all of that with flying colors… She lived her purpose… Her mischief has been managed… And I am very, very proud of her.

Maj,  kitakits ulit, ha? Pero huwag muna ngayon... next time, ok?
Love ya, dude...