Monday, April 17, 2017

A friend like Janella

Janella Salvador Instagrammed this photo of us that day. See my shorts? I made sure to wear pink, her color.
It’s been about a year and nine months since my girl Janella Salvador launched her first record with a performance at the SM Fairview Event Center, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was the day I realized that Janella is a special kind of friend—the kind that comes along once in a blue moon.

On the morning of July 31, 2015, I woke up hyperventilating. I had been diagnosed with a mental illness almost two months before, and panic attacks were par for the course. After I'd calmed down somewhat, I decided to do something fun to disperse the dark cloud that settled over me because of that panic attack. So I got dressed and set off for SM Fairview to surprise Janella.

When I arrived and saw that the Event Center was packed, I froze. My pulse picked up speed as I surveyed the crowd. I realize now that I should’ve expected a scene like that, but back then I felt so overwhelmed by the sight and sound of fans brandishing tarpaulins and screaming. I tried to look for someone who could help me get into the Event Center, but my feet felt rooted to the floor.

Luckily, before I could start hyperventilating again, a friend from ABS-CBN saw me hovering near the Event Center entrance with a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. He ushered me backstage, where we stood in a corner and waited for Janella to arrive.

When she did, the crowd’s screams rose several decibels, but this time I barely noticed them. See, one of the best things about Janella is that she has a calming aura. I suppose it’s because she’s a positive person. When she smiles, the whole world—or at least the people around her—can’t help smiling too. The mere sight of her helped me stay calm despite the noise.

I went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned around and saw me standing there, her face lit up. “Julian! I didn’t expect to see you here today,” Janella said, throwing her arms around my neck and squeezing. “Thank you for coming, ha?”

I patted her on the back, then released her and said, “Anytime. Now go kill it for me.”

She winked, accepted the mic that a production assistant offered her, then went onstage to even louder screams from the crowd. The show itself went by quickly, and afterwards, Janella invited me to join her and her family for dinner.

En route to the UP Ayala Technohub, Janella and I had a heart-to-heart talk. She asked, “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in such a long time. You haven’t been visiting me.”

I steeled myself and told her about my suicide attempt and subsequent diagnosis. A hush fell over everyone in the van as I talked. Afterwards, my eyes were bright with tears and Janella’s hand had found mine in the darkness. In that moment, no words needed to be said.


We had a very delicious dinner (and clowned around at; see the video I embedded above) at one of Janella’s favorite restaurants, after which she and I walked back to her van, arm in arm. Suddenly, the clouds parted and I looked up to see the full moon high in the sky. I nudged her and pointed it out.

“Look at that,” I told Janella. “Did you know na blue moon ngayon?”

“Talaga?” she asked, craning her neck to look at the moon.

I nodded. “Sabi sa movie na Relaks, It’s Just Pag-ibig, yung kasama mo daw sa ilalim ng blue moon, makakasama mo habambuhay. Since ikaw kasama ko ngayon, that means we’ll be friends forever. Right?”

Janella looked at me. I looked at her. Then she hugged me and said, “Of course. Promise yan.”

Her words made me break into a smile that probably outshone the moon that night. Because of my mental illness, I live in fear of being abandoned by those I love most. Janella’s promise of friendship meant a lot to me. Not many people can handle being friends with someone who’s mentally ill. She could’ve distanced herself from me upon learning about my diagnosis, but she didn’t, which says a lot about her character.

No matter what I'm going through, having a friend like Janella makes me feel blessed. I think she's perfect for Dreamscape's Kung Kailangan Mo Ako. Because the way she is as a friend is described in the theme song's lyrics: "At kung kailangan mo ako / Sa oras ng iyong pag-iisa / Kung naninimdim / Asahan mong ako ay darating."

3 comments

  1. A good read Julian, candid and heartfelt. Thanks for loving Janella.

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  2. both an angel...both blessed having each other #genuinepeople

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  3. You are very brave to tell your story. Thanks for sharing and also letting us know what a beautiful soul Janella really is.

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