MANILA, Philippines – During the Manila stop of their world concert series, pop-rock band Maroon 5 celebrated the memory of Carlo Santiago, a Filipino boy who lost his battle with cancer.
|A photo of Maroon 5 lead guitarist James Valentine (left) with Carlo Santiago
"We think about him every time we get up on stage, he was such an inspiring kid," Maroon 5 lead guitarist James Valentine told ABS-CBN News during a press conference shortly before the band's concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.
A budding musician at an early age, Santiago was Valentine's protégé in Los Angeles, where the Filipino boy sought treatment for neuroblastoma or cancer of the peripheral nervous system.
Diagnosed with the illness when he was four years old, Santiago had been staying in Los Angeles since 2005.
There he became one of the cancer patients supported by the group Teen Impact, which has been a beneficiary of Maroon 5 for years now.
"When we're off tour, I go in there (Teen Impact) and teach some lessons to some of the kids," Valentine said.
"That's where I met Carlo, who is just the most amazing student, and just a really funny kid and really talented as well," he added.
Whenever Santiago would get his guitar lessons from the Valentine, the boy's mother Toni recounted, he would be overtaken with enthusiasm despite his condition.
"You could feel... that Carlo's there, that he was there," Toni said in an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News. "In fact, he said, that cancer was both a curse and a blessing, and his blessing was James."
Unlike most who would only see or hear of Maroon 5 through television and the radio, Santiago had known of them as "real musicians," as his friends, Toni recalled.
For his part, Valentine also saw his time with Carlo as a blessing: "He was the best student I ever had, and unfortunately he lost his battle to cancer."
In February 2011, Santiago succumbed to his illness.
During Santiago's memorial service, the band performed a last time for the boy -- a "private concert for the family" of sorts, Toni said.
"James was there at the memorial service, he did acoustic guitar, he provided the music during the service, and we did a life celebration of Carlo, and the whole band was there," she said.
"They've been there for us really from the start really to the end," she said.