| Photo taken from Steph Ayson's Facebook account
MANILA, Philippines – “He made sure that I wouldn't feel that I was pushed aside.”
Young actor AJ Perez’s non-showbiz girlfriend, 17-year-old Steph Ayson, made this statement during her first media interview wherein she talked about her fond memories of Perez and how she took it when she first heard the news that he was killed in a car accident in Tarlac.
Ayson told ABS-CBN News that having a celebrity boyfriend was never easy.
"There've been quite a number of complications regarding privacy, with regard to our relationship, but the good thing about AJ is that even though we kept it in the quiet, he made sure that I wouldn't feel that I was pushed aside or whatever," Ayson told ABS-CBN News.
"He really made me feel special in every way that he could, even his friends, [by] constantly texting me," she added.
When asked what she liked most about Perez, she said: "I liked his optimism and capability to make people feel optimistic just as he is. And he's just very inspiring and sobrang determined niya."
Holding back tears, Ayson said she will miss Perez now that he is gone.
"I'll just miss the way he calls me every time may break sa taping. Sobrang kulit kasi niya, kahit text or call, or pati sa buong family ko," she said. "I'll miss of course having him around and I miss someone constantly bugging me to be okay."
Ayson admitted that moving on may take a while “but I know with God's help and AJ's help, I'll be fine."
On Sunday, the 18-year-old Star Magic artist was killed in a vehicular accident in Tarlac highway after doing a show in Dagupan.
Perez was with his father and 4 others when the ABS-CBN van carrying them collided with a Partas provincial passenger bus along McArthur Highway in Barangay San Julian.
Ayson learned about Perez’s death through his dad, Gerardo.
"At first, I couldn’t believe it until I saw AJ. Tito Gerry (AJ's father) was the one who called me. When he was telling me, it was hard for me to grasp the idea, so my sister had to call Tito Gerry again and asked and confirmed what happened," she said.
Ayson also recently opened her Twitter account to the public to “share the AJ I know with everyone. I've always been his fan since I was in grade school, too.”
Christ the King
The remains of the teenage actor have been brought to The Christ the King Parish on Greenmeadows Avenue in Quezon City.
The actor's body was brought to the parish after a mass officiated by ABS-CBN's chaplain Fr. Tito Caluag at La Salle Greenhills chapel, where Perez's remains were viewed by his family, friends and supporters for almost 2 days.
The wake is also open to the public starting Wednesday from 9 p.m. until midnight. In succeeding days, public viewing will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. until midnight.
Initial reports said Perez, who died at age 18, will be interred at the Manila Memorial Park after Holy Week. -With a report from Gretchen Fullido, ABS-CBN News