What a beautiful tribute to the man she loved and who loved her as well. Zsa Zsa Padilla sang THROUGH THE YEARS during the Necrological Service for Dolphy – Comedy King at the Dolphy Theater of ABS-CBN yesterday. I recall in 1989 when Dolphy dropped Alma Moreno because of his love for Zsa Zsa Padilla. At that time, I also wondered in disbelief for his reasons. The public didn’t take the news kindly, that it prompted them to leave for the USA . For the next two and a half years, they lived in exile. The popular “John and Marsha” folded soon after . Without Dolphy, there is no John.

Through the years, Dolphy and Zsa Zsa Padilla proved that their love was real and strong. Despite the controversies surrounding the start of their relationship, Dolphy and Zsazsa Padilla stayed together for the past two decades and have two children, namely Nicole and Zia .He is 36 years older than her, and had relationships with different women before her, five of whom bore him his 18 children.

I got the following statement from Zsazsa Padilla facebook wall said .

“To Dolphy, thank you very much for being so proud of me; for giving me my two girls; for being so thoughtful; and for doing your best to provide for us. Kung mayroon siyang kapintasan, ‘yun ang pagiging sobra niyang mapagbigay. Mahirap magsabi sa kanya na may gusto kang bagay kasi kung mahal ka nya, gagawin nya ang lahat para maibigay nya sa ‘yo,”

What she and Dolphy went through was not easy.

“In loving the man I came to accept… Hindi po naging madali lahat ng yun. Pero he was worth it,” she said.

“Hindi ko na kailangan balikan ang nakaraan. Saksi kayo sa lalim ng pagmamahal na binigay ni Dolphy sa akin. At napatunayan niya nga sa loob ng 23 years kung gaano kalalim at katatag ang aming love story,” she added.

She said the family got closer when Dolphy was diagnosed with Stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) two years ago.

“Naramdaman ko na talagang isang tunay kaming pamilya. Posible naman pala na kahit ang mga anak ni Dolphy ay nanggaling sa ibang nanay ay pwede naman kami magkaisa,” Padilla said.

Padilla also thanked television networks ABS-CBN and TV5 for supporting Dolphy’s career.

She said TV5 renewed Dolphy’s contract and continued to give his salary “despite knowing that he could never tape again.”

She thanked ABS-CBN for taking care of Dolphy’s legacy and preserving his body of work “for generations of Filipinos to enjoy in perpetuity.

“I know that this service will make Dolphy so happy dahil mula pa sa panahon ni Kapitan Geny Lopez, si Dolphy sa buhay, kamatayan at sa langit ay isang tunay na Kapamilya.”

I can’t remember when you weren’t there / When I didn’t care for anyone but you / I swear, we’ve been through everything there is / Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed / Can’t imagine anything the two of us won’t do / Through the years, you’ve never let me down / You’ve turned my life around / The sweetest days I found, I found with you / Through the years, I’ve never been afraid / I love the life we’ve made / Im so glad I stayed right here with you / Through the years

After the song, Padilla broke down in tears when she said: “Kagaya ng huling ibinulong mo sa akin bago ka mamaalam, lovey ko, I love you.”

Here are the lyrics of Through the years:

I can’t remember when you weren’t there
When I didn’t care for anyone but you
I swear we’ve been through everything there is
Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed
Can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do

Through the years, you’ve never let me down
You turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you … Through the years
I’ve never been afraid, I’ve loved the life we’ve made
And I’m so glad I’ve stayed, right here with you
Through the years

I can’t remember what I used to do
Who I trusted, who I listened to before
I swear you taught me everything I know
Can’t imagine needing someone so
But through the years it seems to me
I need you more and more

Through the years, through all the good and bad
I KNOW how much we had, I’ve always been so glad
To be with you … Through the years
It’s better every day, you’ve kissed my tears away
As long as it’s okay, I’ll stay with you
Through the years

Through the years, when everything went wrong
Together we were strong, I know that I belong
Right here with you … Through the years
I never had a doubt, we’d always work things out
I’ve learned what life’s about, by loving you
Through the years

Through the years, you’ve never let me down
You’ve turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you … Through the years
It’s better every day, you’ve kissed my tears away
As long as it’s okay, I’ll stay with you
Through the years…

The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive – perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine. Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

I am big on the idea of a eulogy, a place to commemorate and celebrate life. I know because of the five deaths in my family . Each tribute about my loved one touched me so much that it gave comfort to know my loved one touched others. I vowed to share this experience to those who lose their loved ones. Sometimes, the family cannot really think of all of these preparations if there is no funeral coordinator. I also know because when I suggested the same to the father of Apple Book, the four year old girl who died in the Willie Revillame show ULTRA tragedy, he loved the idea. SInce then, I often ask the bereaved family about their plans for eulogy. The brother of AJ loved the idea and so bloggers and friends organized AJ’s memorial.

A eulogy is quite simple. You tell a story about a fond memory, character attributes or something you want to share that is poetic or meaningful. It could also be a song. AJ’s tribute included podcast clips from his FabCast friends and Juned shared AJ’s answers to formspring that added a lot of laughter.

Our tribute to AJ was indeed beautiful and poignant. There are facets of a person’s life that can be gleaned from a variety of friends, colleagues or family. For instance, AJ’s mom had no idea what a blog is.. but she shared an insight about his son only a mother will ever know. A friend delivered his tribute called a Timely Powerful Message, recalling the of the time he saw AJ at the hospital and their podcast days.

Along with his eulogy, he shared soundbites of AJ that came from Fabcasters’ podcast.sessions, It reveals the wonderful, unique person that AJ Matela is.

My daughter wrote more about it in “What is death trying to teach me?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old funeral cliche, ““Death is a celebration of life.” When the priest said it in his homily, I snorted and wondered if that was supposed to be comforting. I’ve experienced enough death in my life to know that death is no celebration. How are you supposed to celebrate the past when you have an entire future to face without that person in your life? Yet a ““celebration of life” is probably the best phrase to describe the memorial service that took place later that evening. AJ has been sick for a while and his family has had several months to accept this fact. So with a lot of the grieving behind them, they had enough sanity to pay attention to the highlights of his life. Many bloggers spoke about their favorite memories and how they remembered him as a kind, friendly, very fashionable person who loved life, fought for LGBT rights, and remained one of the greatest friends they’ve ever had.

Here is my eulogy for AJ.

Gifts from AJ

I am honored to be here to be part of tonight’s memorial to honor and celebrate what AJ gave to us.
I consider myself blessed to have known such a wonderful person. He was also charming, funny, and fun. AJ was charismatic and he could always catch you up in his enthusiasm and love for anything!

I met AJ in 2007 and other bloggers will probably talk about a similar meeting. Yes I am a blogger, who deals with grief support advocacy and participatory media. I too lost a brother when he was 28 years old. I too lost my precious son. A total of 5 deaths in my immediate family.

What I would want to share to his family and loved ones are two legacies AJ left behind for me to remember him by. They are all related to my blog advocacy. These legacy will continue to live on in my heart and in my treasure chest of memories and perhaps in yours.

1. Ernie, the Travel mascot

AJ first introduced me to Ernie during one of our blogger trips in 2008. AJ would let Ernie sit on a chair or on any flat surface and then take a picture. He used to say it is his travel mascot. I found it cute. Looking at AJ with Ernie, an inspiration hit me. Why not have a travel mascot myself? So I copied AJ. No, I didn’t copy Ernie. I used Kippy Cat or rather I re-discovered Kippy Cat from the box of toys of my precious son that I had kept throughout the years.

Kippy Cat was Luijoe’s comfort toy when I travelled in the past. Kippy Cat never left my son’s side while I was away from him. When I returned home after a travel, he rubbed Kippy Cat’s nose on to my nose.

Holding Kippy Cat close to my chest, a flood of happy and poignant memories lifted me to high spirits and I felt the comfort of my son’s love. That is how Kippy Cat became my mascot. The comfort my son felt before is now my comfort.

Aj knew this. I dedicated a blog post just for Ernie and Aj in 2008.

He probably never realized it…but he showed me a creative way of handling grief triggers.

This legacy will always be part of my advocacy and to others who want to use creative ways to deal with their loss.

2. Mobile live streaming

My other role as a blogger is participatory media where social networking tools come handy such as mobile live streaming. Today, you can see live streaming done everywhere in the Senate, the Supreme court, and other government offices. Blog Watch our citizen media site’s coverage of the May 2010 campaign period was not complete without live streaming. I first learned about live streaming using mobile phones from AJ during iblog 5 in April 2009. AJ covered most of the proceedings with his Nokia phone until its battery died. I was quite intrigued. I only knew live streaming using my laptop.

He explained to me the various sites that support live stream such as qik.com , ustream.tv and justin.tv with the use of a software that can be downloaded to the phone. I knew all this because I sat beside him all throughout iblog 5, sometimes being his reliever when he had to talk on stage.

I think of him whenever I do my own mobile live streaming.

Sadly, this was the last time I ever talked to AJ in person. This is our last photo together (I regret not having a photo with him when I lost 20 pounds lighter from that photo) Yes, I got busy with citizen media and did not attend much blogger events since middle of 2009. I am filled with regrets, with questions of ““why? If only? I should have…why God? ” but I am also aware that all these are part of my grief talking .

And though these memories may bring back pain, they bring back memories of joy as well. All these because pain is the price I pay for someone who touched my life.

He also leaves behind the people who loved and cared for him, for truly, it is in us that AJ will live on. How? Because we – the ones who were touched by his grace – will share with the world, the parts of us he was able to influence. This is what a man truly leaves behind when he passes.

Yes, I am comforted with the knowledge that AJ will be forever alive in my heart and in my memories.

AJ, I love you. You will be forever missed by each and every life you have touched. Until we meet again my friend, your precious legacies will be carried within my heart.

I would like to end with a quote from Thomas Campbell.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
~Norman Cousins~

Visit the info page of 1000 Volunteers for AJ Matela on how to help AJ’s family.

Other blogposts by AJ’s friends who will all miss him: