Thank You for the Trust and Confidence, Allan. It Went a Long Way
By Marivir R. Montebon
AJR needed no introduction. He was quite a brand by himself, well-known in the Cebu community as musician, composer, stage and film director, screenplay writer, and actor. He plays the piano gracefully, creating music from the soul.
In college, at the University of San Carlos, eons of years ago, I first met the Allan Jayme Rabaya. Although he was short, his low husky voice and stern look could well place him as a commander of a battalion of soldiers. At the time, he was organizing Theater Travels, a school-based theater with young actors he would get from students in the city. I was one of those 11 selected out of more than 200 applicants.
My exciting days have just begun. But it went pffft quite fast. Allan was super strict in dealing with us girls. He loved the boys. And so suddenly one night after rehearsals, we, the crazy bunch of young actors already becoming really good friends, hatched a plan to make him fall in love with me. Make him fall in love with me! Are you crazy, people? I asked them, saying it was outrageous and will never happen. He is gay.
Still, my crazy friends insisted that I make extra effort to be nice to Allan, so that he stops bitching everyone. Of course, I was clumsy doing that. And I failed. In fact, Allan axed me a few days before the first major production because I was late for the rehearsals. There goes the falling in love plan. My head rolled. Ouch. I felt bad losing my stint at the Theater Travels. But not for long.
I stopped dreaming about stage acting in college and decided to focus on campus journalism. I joined the newly reestablished Today’s Carolinian (formerly The Carolinian) and that sealed my path towards journalism and being a writer to this day.
Allan was still very much around Cebu and Manila in those years. I would hear about him winning third place in the Cebu Popular Music Festival for Kausa Nabasa ang Tubig, some stage and film projects, and commercials he created.
Several years later, I found my way in the newsroom of The Freeman, Cebu’s and the country’s oldest community paper. And who would have thought that I would be working with Allan Jayme Rabaya again, after he axed me from being a stage actress? I wasn’t bitter. Instead, I found that episode in my life funny.
We worked very professionally in the newsroom, he this time being my editor for the Sunday Magazine. He would assign me to do a story, give me contacts, and consult if my deadline was realistic. All went fabulously well. I had the best time of my life writing about community life in Cebu, with Allan as my editor.
He was great at lay-outing too. I loved how he splashed pictures and pictures of my story, to the delight of my photographers too. I remember writing about “Kano”, an orphaned Amerasian who was charged of arson. And the phony fortune tellers along the cemetery on Katipunan Street, which was a hilarious piece.
In my journalism work, Allan was one of those who gave me his trust and confidence. That helped me grow vigorously as a writer. I am forever thankful for that.
Still a few years more, I met Allan again at the Cebu Catholic Television Network. We did not work together anymore. Just shared thoughts and coffee randomly in the studio. His health was already taking its toll on his body. He has mellowed down pretty much in everything: projects, love life, even physically.
I will remember Allan in my heart. Not as a consummate artist, but more about life at the height of abundance and in critical moments when your lifeline depends on love and friendship. I will always be reminded of his humility.