ForeverMissed
This site was created as a lasting tribute to our beloved Jason de Guzman.

On the landing page of Jason's virtual gravesite, you may light a candle or leave a flower and tell him the things you never got to say to him before his passing. We know he'll be reading these notes! 

On the Stories tab, please share your memories and honoring tributes. We hope this gives everyone a glimpse of the kind of man Jason was in the eyes of his family, friends, and colleagues. 

God bless you more...

Posted by Mona Lisa Pua on May 23, 2021
Dear Jason,
Thank you for the privilege of knowing you and being our wedding photographer. We've only been with you for 2 days (meeting and wedding day) but you have inspired us infinitely. We have followed your facebook posts and looked up to you and your family as a model and inspiration. My husband showed me your pictures years ago, saying "gusto ko ganyan din tayo" (enjoying moments and spending time with family). Even now, you and your family's resilience and faith have inspired me. The way I glimpse how your family is holding on, staying in faith, choosing joy, is helping me in my grief. My dad went to heaven 7 days ahead of you. Please say hello to my dad.
Enjoy heaven!
"For our citizenship is in heaven"--Phil 3:20

Christian and Mona Jimenez
Posted by Lai De Guzman on May 17, 2021
We didn't have a lot of speaking lines. And when I think of it that way, my heart becomes sad.

You to me for a long time, were that bald master photographer, with shades on his head, who I first encountered in a printed flyer at our INP Studio in Oasis. (In short, nakita kita sa isang magazine!)


You are memorable to me, because we shared the same last name. HEHE, (Sir) KUYA!


And that was who you were...

Until the shoots; 

Until the bible studies; 

Until serving under you in purpose driven photographer workshops (PDP).

Until Ate Mot,  with her loud voice, would always say (ang gwapo gwapo talaga ni Jaaaaaasoon! whenever you would drop by). 


It was not difficult for people to find home in you, because you were 'chill lang', just like how your friends had described you during the honoring. And that you would diffuse pressure by cracking jokes at the shoot. I may not know the jokes anymore, but will always remember how you made us feel: welcome and relaxed.


Several days after the news of your passing, I kept remembering one lesson from you, which of course involved a camera, but is very well applicable to life as we know it.


It was a time when I felt overwhelmed with stuff I needed to know, and frustration followed me like a shadow. 


You said:


"LOCK YOUR FOCUS, AND RECOMPOSE."


Thank you, for the simple yet meaningful interaction. I am grateful that our paths crossed by some miracle, and that words like these would eventually serve as a guiding principle in tough times. 

 It is also a reminder, to fix our eyes on Jesus. Just like you did, in your lifetime. 

Bro, Rakenroll!!! Salamat sa lahat.




Posted by Carlo Cecilio on May 17, 2021
Dearest Brother,

You loved us deeply,

You witnessed our victories,

You guided us through our challenges and prayed with us,

You blessed us by just being you,

Your love for the Lord and passion to serve Him overflowed to family and friends.

Through your example, you showed to us that you were never too busy to give your time, talent, and treasure for the Lord.

Be the "Salt of the Earth," was one of your favorite lines from scripture. It simply means to live a worthy and virtuous life for Christ, which you always strived to do in your lifetime.

Jason, we will forever cherish the times we've spent together just talking about faith, food, travel, photography and technology.

We keep in our hearts the memories of us praying and worshipping Him.

Who would have thought that our visit last January, to get the laptop we bought from you, was our last meeting.

I'm trading my sorrows for the joy that you are home with the Lord. You finally get to meet him and hear him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Thank you for being an awesome mentor, brother, friend, and tito to our children.

We love you bro!

Love,

Carlo, Hyds, Zooey and Zaira
Posted by Erron Ocampo on May 17, 2021
Jason and I were among the first photographers in Imagine Nation ahead of the apprenticeship program. Aside from Jong, I also looked up to him, and I’m sure most, if not all our colleagues in Imagine Nation Photography did too. He may be intimidating to some at first, but once you got to know him, he was one of the coolest persons to talk to and hang out with. I think one of our earliest bonding moments were when we would smoke together, he was one of my smoking buddies. Jason was admired not only within the Imagine Nation family, but by colleagues and co-suppliers in the wedding industry that he knew and worked with.

Jason was a very generous person, he shared his knowledge and passion for photography, his love of coffee, and his jokes, with people around him. I knew he liked to joke around a bit, but I was only able to confirm his naughty side during recent sharings of his high school and college friends.

Jason was a man of faith, so I was surprised when he asked me to be ninong to Amelia. I reminded him then, “Bro you know I’m not Christian or Catholic right?”. He said for him it’s more than being that, it’s the person. I was so honored then, but mostly, my respect and admiration for Jason grew a lot more.

We didn’t see each other a lot in the past years and it breaks my heart that we won’t be able to catch up anymore and I won’t be able to make it up to him. Rest now Jason, know that your Imagine Nation Family is here and will be here for Loi and Amelia, alongside your family and friends. We’ll keep an eye on them, and should they need us, we’ll be there for them.

We are thankful for your life Jason.

I Can Only Imagine is instilled in our Imagine Nation Family. It was some sort of an anthem, and was used in almost all of our wedding slideshows. Jason is one of the people that comes into mind whenever I hear this song. And since Jason’s passing, I’ve found myself singing this song.
Posted by Dominic Barrios on May 17, 2021
Hey Bro Jase,

The first time I saw you was on TV being interviewed about wedding photography. Ever since that day, I looked up to you as a mentor in photography as well capturing whatever is good and beautiful.

Later that year, I got to learn a lot from you from working with you. I've also been influenced by how much you've unselfishly served people/couples by blessing them with your pictures. All those happy times shooting with you, or just fooling around the studio, and shooting each other's weddings.. It's a memory I'll forever treasure.

We'll be praying for you and your family. Pray for us as well. See you someday!
Posted by Aileen Dizon-Sayson on May 16, 2021
Dear Jason

I am very grateful for being part of my life, high school life wouldn't be the same if I didn't meet you. The barkada had so much fun and laughter because of your kakulitan. I remember you not believing in God but I was able to see your transition of being a believer and being God's instrument in sharing His love to the people you have met in your life. Am very thankful that we stayed friends after all these years. You have gone through a lot in life but you remained steadfast. Am so proud of you, in my heart, I wish we could have spent more time together during our zoom meetings but I guess God has chosen you to be our angel to look after us. Enjoy the time now with Tito and Tita.

You will surely be missed.

Love always,
Neelia (Aileen)
Posted by Paulo Tatad on May 16, 2021
Dear Jason -- friend, kumpare, brother, HHH forever, and "light in this world" ---- it pains me to write this but at the same time, happy to know you are up there with God and his angels, and reunited with your parents. You were truly a blessing to walk this Earth and touch soooo manyyyyy lives ---- Tess and I are one of those many you've truly touched. :) Continue to pray for us as we continue to pray for you, for Loi, Amelia, Tessa and Ghia from here. We love you, J! And in your words "God bless us more". <3 <3 <3
Posted by Luzvil Ousman on May 15, 2021
You were a very special, loving and very generous person to my God daughter Loi and her family. I was so honored to met you and knew right away that Loi picked a great husband and very thankful when you drive them to see me in the hotel. You left a lasting impression in my heart in our very first and only encounter.You were a trooper when I advised you to Quit smoking. Rest In Peace Jason. May perpetual light shine upon you. ❤️
Posted by Tomas Ortiz on May 15, 2021
My dearest friend. Even though we didn’t get to see each other that much after high school. The friendship that we have developed will last a lifetime. I will forever value the memories and the moments that I got to spend with you. You are definitely going to be missed but you will always be in our hearts and our minds. Rest in peace Jason, rest in peace my dear friend. 
Posted by Tiqui Del Rosario on May 12, 2021
Jase, i remember one of the first impressions i had about you was that you probably had a great family... and true enough, soon after, I found out you were cousins with my forever seatmate in high school. Confirmed. And I see that legacy continuing with precious Amelia. We will truly miss you! You’re the glue that holds our fAmelia together... your cooking, really. Makes it worth going up all those flights of stairs! Thanks Jase! It was truly a blessing to be your friend. 
Posted by Tonito Vargas on May 13, 2021
Dear Jas,

You were a true brother in Christ - gentle, generous, kind, loving, human, and totally relatable. You drew people in and made them experience the Jesus in you.

I wish I could have spent even more time with you to learn and experience more of Gods grace and lessons you exuded. You were an unnasuming example to us all. We are truly saddened that you were called to give your final earthly statement but oh! - the story and actions of your life! 

During the times (and in my imperfect humanity) where Jesus may seem “unrelatable or far” from me, I shall always remember (picture and imagine even) a very real brother in Christ when I ask “WWJD - What Would Jason (my friend) Do?”

We will miss you very much. Thanks for the gift of you Bro! 

We love you!
Posted by Gracielle Hernandez on May 13, 2021
Dear Jason,

I met you through photography but you shared so much more than that. A perfect gentleman, a great listener, a calming presence, a patient teacher, an amazing friend, you were all that and so much more.

Thank you for living your life the way you did. You have inspired so many of us through your selfless ways.

The news of your passing rocked me to my core but that's just because you are such an incredible person. You and your family are such a blessing not just to me but also to a lot of people. Don't worry we will always look after them.

We love you Jase, we will miss you and we will always keep memories of you close to our hearts.
Posted by King Fonacier on May 12, 2021
Thank you Lord for lending us Jason. Through his talents, his passion, his love and his service we also experienced Your love. This is not Adios but simply Hasta Luego or see you later. You will always be part of BOBS!!! I guess God allowed you first entry to his Kingdom to prepare for everyone else’s time. We love you Jas!!!
Posted by Michelle De Guzman on May 10, 2021
Like everyone, I was extremely saddened and shocked when news of your passing reached me. I was suddenly flooded with memories of chapter assemblies, of GK activities, of fellowships, of hangouts and conversations (which were rare but meaningful) with you.

I always admired how you were so centered on God, how your love for Him was just so evident in everything you said and did. Whenever you spoke about God (in your very calming voice, of course), it would always leave me, us, feeling inspired and desiring the same happiness you felt. He truly made you one of His instruments of love and peace here.

I won't forget the times I would have conversations with you about life and love, how you lit up when you talked about Loi and how you were so proud of Amelia, how you made light of that conversation we had outside the rooftop reception (in freezing cold weather) at Sherylle & Victorio's wedding, how you were glad that I bought your Macbook and instructed me like a kuya would.

I would always be proud deep inside whenever there were people who assumed I was related to you because of our surnames (even if we really aren't), whenever I was thought to be your cousin or sister (although ang layo ng itsura ko sa'yo), because who wouldn't want to be related to such an honorable and inspiring human being like you?

Thank you for all the advise, for blessing us with your friendship and by sharing your thoughts about faith and God. By being selfless, you showed us that your Life was full. Will miss you, Jas! Watch over us ok? Will keep Loi and Amelia in my prayers.
Posted by Taffy Ledesma on May 8, 2021
Hey bro, it was hard to accept that you'd left us after just catching up a few weeks back. There's a lot I'll remember -- the first time we actually did meet back when I was in college, the gear talk, the God talk, the promise that "the nets will not break", The BoBs, the laughs and anxiety right before my wedding day. 

To those who will read this: He followed God on his own volition. He lived out his faith the way the Lord called him to do so. He was all about family. And he was a human being that touched the lives of many by being himself and without imposing it upon others.  

One day we'll all get together again. Pray for us up there.

You are missed, kapatid.
Posted by ricky frias on May 6, 2021
Kapatid....sabi ko naman sayo ako muna eh. Sabi nga nila... God takes those who are worthy of His majesty early....you have completed the test already and ready to be with God our Father. I will miss you so much kapatid.

I will cherish our wedding shoot here in the US together. Mga kwentuhan natin and the catching up of the good old days. You have impacted so many peoples lives by just being you kapatid...you are a friend that someone could really count on, a brother that we can rely on....a father for sure that gave all his all to his family. As I write this tribute....you know tears are already trickling down my face...we have shared many iyakan sharings during SFC days and our missions together.

I will see you soon bro in God's time. i love you bro!! God will take care of your family as he always have.
Posted by Joy Lee on May 6, 2021
Ooooowww Jase!! Your passing left me in shock. However short your time on earth is, I am grateful our paths crossed. Grateful to have been able to do mission work with you in Australia and spend 11 days with you in New York in 2011 before God called you home. Thank you for being the best house guest. I light this candle for you, Jase. May it burn ever so brightly as a symbol of thanksgiving to God for your life. I'm going to start calling you St Jason - Patron Saint of Sisters and Brothers. St Jason, run to God and claim your reward. Please pray for us and watch over us from your majestic room in heaven. We love you Jase. We will never forget you. 
-- Oowww Joy!!
Posted by Eleanor Bahoy on May 3, 2021
Thank you, Jason, for being a true Brother in Christ to me. I met you when I moved to Manila back in 2006 for my work with Gawad Kalinga. I became a member of your lower household in SFC Makati chapter. You made me feel at home in the chapter. I have really great and fond memories of our household meetings in your home.

Your faithfulness to God expanded outside of the SFC meetings and into your photography career. I will forever be grateful for the generosity you gave me & Jong as our wedding photographer. Whenever I look back at my pre-nup photoshoot at Villa Escudero and our wedding pictures in Manila, I will always remember you with love and respect. Thank you for your generous heart when you said that your photography services would be free of charge as a gift to Jong & I for being missionaries back then. Your love for God was truly manifest in our pictures because I could see how you made every photo point back to the Lord. I'll never forget the impromptu pray over you led over Jong as his nerves got the better of him. This moment was captured in our wedding video. The image of you praying over Jong is truly the image I will always remember about you.

You will always be our prayer warrior and partner. Thank you for saying "Yes" to the Lord, for being mission ready always, and for allowing God to use you as His instrument to bring me and so many others closer to God. Thank you for showing us just how much God loves us. We feel and believe in this love all due to your YES.

We will miss you and we will remember you always & forever.  Thank you for these wonderful memories and for your friendship. We love you.

Love,
El & Jong
Posted by Mylene Ferrer-Wollboldt on May 3, 2021
Dearest Jase, I honor you for being a great Father to Amelia and a loving Husband to Loi, but most of all I've seen first hand how you cared, nurtured, encouraged and loved Tessa and Gia. Truly a great example of how God would want any brother to take care of their siblings. I am sure you were called ahead of us bec good men always gets a special pass to heaven . Enjoy Papa God's, Papa Jesus' and Mama Mary's loving embrace. I will always remember you and your family in my prayer! Thank you for introducing me to SFC!
Posted by She Mailom-Chiu on April 30, 2021
The news of your passing totally shocked all of us but also serves as a great reminder to pray more, do more and love more, like you always did.

Your life was a tad short but truly extraordinary! How inspiring it was to witness you live out your faith, passion and vocation. Salamat Jase for always pointing us to Jesus up to your last days in this world.

We wish to thank you again for your genuine friendship. We recall Baby Amelia was so little then but you still flew to NY and captured the memories of our wedding day so beautifully. Victorio and I will forever treasure the gift of your time and talent.

Holding dear in our hearts the memory of you leading us in prayer that calmed the chaos in the room and in our hearts the morning of our big day. Thank you, Jase, for reminding us to let go and let God take care of the day and of our lifetime together for indeed “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

We light this virtual candle for your beautiful soul and we promise to continue to lift up the healing of Loi, Amelia, Tessa and Ghia in prayer.

Salamat Jase for touching and blessing our lives in your own special way. One day, we pray we shall see you and worship the Lord together again! Amen.
Posted by Gia Garcia on April 30, 2021
Jase, you were a very good friend to me. You were a loving, caring, generous and selfless man of God. It will be the little things I will miss most about you – your smile, jokes, your distinct deep voice and hugs. But most of all, your presence. I miss and love you Jase! Watch over all of us from heaven!

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Mona Lisa Pua on May 23, 2021
Dear Jason,
Thank you for the privilege of knowing you and being our wedding photographer. We've only been with you for 2 days (meeting and wedding day) but you have inspired us infinitely. We have followed your facebook posts and looked up to you and your family as a model and inspiration. My husband showed me your pictures years ago, saying "gusto ko ganyan din tayo" (enjoying moments and spending time with family). Even now, you and your family's resilience and faith have inspired me. The way I glimpse how your family is holding on, staying in faith, choosing joy, is helping me in my grief. My dad went to heaven 7 days ahead of you. Please say hello to my dad.
Enjoy heaven!
"For our citizenship is in heaven"--Phil 3:20

Christian and Mona Jimenez
Posted by Lai De Guzman on May 17, 2021
We didn't have a lot of speaking lines. And when I think of it that way, my heart becomes sad.

You to me for a long time, were that bald master photographer, with shades on his head, who I first encountered in a printed flyer at our INP Studio in Oasis. (In short, nakita kita sa isang magazine!)


You are memorable to me, because we shared the same last name. HEHE, (Sir) KUYA!


And that was who you were...

Until the shoots; 

Until the bible studies; 

Until serving under you in purpose driven photographer workshops (PDP).

Until Ate Mot,  with her loud voice, would always say (ang gwapo gwapo talaga ni Jaaaaaasoon! whenever you would drop by). 


It was not difficult for people to find home in you, because you were 'chill lang', just like how your friends had described you during the honoring. And that you would diffuse pressure by cracking jokes at the shoot. I may not know the jokes anymore, but will always remember how you made us feel: welcome and relaxed.


Several days after the news of your passing, I kept remembering one lesson from you, which of course involved a camera, but is very well applicable to life as we know it.


It was a time when I felt overwhelmed with stuff I needed to know, and frustration followed me like a shadow. 


You said:


"LOCK YOUR FOCUS, AND RECOMPOSE."


Thank you, for the simple yet meaningful interaction. I am grateful that our paths crossed by some miracle, and that words like these would eventually serve as a guiding principle in tough times. 

 It is also a reminder, to fix our eyes on Jesus. Just like you did, in your lifetime. 

Bro, Rakenroll!!! Salamat sa lahat.




Posted by Carlo Cecilio on May 17, 2021
Dearest Brother,

You loved us deeply,

You witnessed our victories,

You guided us through our challenges and prayed with us,

You blessed us by just being you,

Your love for the Lord and passion to serve Him overflowed to family and friends.

Through your example, you showed to us that you were never too busy to give your time, talent, and treasure for the Lord.

Be the "Salt of the Earth," was one of your favorite lines from scripture. It simply means to live a worthy and virtuous life for Christ, which you always strived to do in your lifetime.

Jason, we will forever cherish the times we've spent together just talking about faith, food, travel, photography and technology.

We keep in our hearts the memories of us praying and worshipping Him.

Who would have thought that our visit last January, to get the laptop we bought from you, was our last meeting.

I'm trading my sorrows for the joy that you are home with the Lord. You finally get to meet him and hear him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Thank you for being an awesome mentor, brother, friend, and tito to our children.

We love you bro!

Love,

Carlo, Hyds, Zooey and Zaira
his Life
It is impossible to think of Ed Jason de Guzman without thinking of what he loved: music, making things, making people laugh, taking photos, his girls on whom he lavished time and attention, and the Lord, who he held above all things.

His interests were wide and varied, pursued with gusto, from the guitar he picked up in his teens to the electric bass that soon followed, countless inventions and innovations for school and home, numerous meals prepared with love for family and friends, the professional camera wielded later in life—along with a love of tinkering and figuring it out, in all these things his way of making things work and making them beautiful always shone through. He never stopped learning.

His enthusiasm for new places was rivaled only by a desire to revisit ones already dear to his heart, and it thrilled him to connect and re-connect with experiences, friends, and family across years and distances. As a boy growing up in BF Homes, he constantly explored its streets on a bike, cheerfully came and went about neighbors’ houses, and kept his own door open to all. This he replicated on vacations in Cavite, with cousins and without the bike; it became how he kept his own home and, in a broader sense, how he lived—always welcome and welcoming.

From earning his engineering degree to becoming head of the family with his parents’ passing 12 years apart, Jay took all his responsibilities seriously—no job was too big or too small. And yet, he never took himself seriously, bringing lightness and joy to every situation, with a natural deadpan look that made it hard to tell if he was kidding or not. (He often was.)

The works of his hands brought him into the fold, into De La Salle University Pops Orchestra, into Singles for Christ, into Imagine Nation, into business partnerships for coffee and photography and other interests besides. At all times, Jay did the things he loved, and he did them not to glorify himself but as an ardent testimony to the grace of his mighty and loving God.

He married the great love of his life on July 4, 2009, and welcomed the other on August 2, 2010. He lived simply and gave his time and talents lavishly—to relatives of every generation, cousins, in-laws; business partners, neighborhood, org, and school barkadas; extended family; and, of course, the sisters, wife, and daughter circling his days as planets around a sun.

Jason, Jay, Jase, Bro, Tito, Ninong, Kuya, Dear, Papa came into the world very early at 7:05 in the morning on August 25, 1973. When the Lord called him home on April 8, 2021, the example he left is one of living gently, living generously and with great respect, always choosing the decent thing, the kinder thing.

He shares an unbroken bond of love with his wife Loi, daughter Amelia, sisters Tessa and Ghia; the same bond reunites him with his father Ed and mother Precy in heaven.

Kindness and gentleness in our own lives—especially when difficult—is the only true honoring, and to any praise or commendation, while making him smile, one imagines with great certainty a response that would simply divert the credit to the great truth he lived and gave freely to anyone, anyone at all: that we are all so very blessed, and so—God bless you more.

Tessa de Guzman Prieto
April 28, 2021 
Recent stories

More

Shared by Jamie Lihan on May 12, 2021
There are a ton of stories we have of Jason. There are two for me that stand out. 
As some of his friends mentioned in their stories, Jason would come home with many stuffs  bought from the street vendors. He did more than buying from them or giving alms. He would talk with them and ask how they are, or how their families are. He saw them as people and treated them with respect. 
It amazed me. 
The financial assistance helped them for sure. But I believe acknowledging and seeing the person in them filled their hearts more. It's recognition and love we all long, these guys also felt and received from Jason. 
The second is: You know how Jason greets everyone of us on our birthdays. He would always end it with "God bless you more!" He intends "more" for each of us. 
Jason always had more to give because his heart was full and he trusted the Lord. He saw goodness in everyone because he lived to see God in each of us. His heart was overflowing with such unending love that can only be from God. 
Jason, you fought the good fight. You finished the race. You kept the faith. Thank you for the life and love that you shared in this lifetime, for the greater glory of God. 

ANGKAS

Shared by Theresa Prieto on May 11, 2021
Here is a small story from the archives of our childhood. 
When we were kids, my brother and I loved to bike around BF which, back then, was still an up-and-coming community subdivided into "villages within villages" full of empty lots and unfinished streets and houses under construction. Perfect for unsupervised exploration haha. 
Anyway, my brother's bike had those spikes in the back, the ones you can stand on to ride na naka-angkas. I had a bike of my own but oh what fun to just be a passenger. Besides, I think my brother didn't like my four-years-younger pedalling speed. 
One time I think we'd been biking around a while—him doing all the work and me on the back spikes with my hands on his shoulders, enjoying the sights and the breeze like a carnival queen. 
I think I was tired? Or maybe we were going uphill? I don't know but anyway he told me I could sit down. 
Ako naman not thinking, I did: in my little kid shorts, I sat down on the wheel while we were still going and got the worst road rash of my life in places that should never be combined with the words "road rash". When we got home, he got the scolding of his life from my mom. But probably not too bad, because honestly, it's hard to be mad at kuya. 
The story doesn't end there. Later on, I was in bed, lying on my stomach, kuya comes with a BIG bottle of Isopropyl alcohol and, well, squirts alcohol on my heinie. (Later on in life, when he'd tell this story later, he insists he did this out of an earnest desire to help.) You can imagine the howl that echoed through the house and the big fuss that was kicked up after that. 
So yes, it's true: siblings make you stronger because they got your back, and you got theirs. And they also make you stronger because they will hurt and sometimes try to kill you, all in the name of good fun. But time heals all wounds, even in the tenderest parts, and what remains are: stories, memories, scars—tiny disfigurements cherished as souvenirs from those afternoons in a new place full of empty streets and grassy fields and families with kids just like you, when all you had to do was hop on the back of your big brother's bike and just: GO. 

The True Local

Shared by Joy Lee on May 6, 2021
Jason came to New York in 2011 to shoot a common friend's wedding. He was supposed to stay at another person's place but asked if he could stay with me instead since he felt more comfortable. The other guy was a stranger, after all. I was hesitant because my bathroom wasn't exactly pristine and worst, the drain was clogged with the water level up to my ankles in minutes. Jason was a trooper though and said that it did not matter. So I figured, "Okay, he's a guy anyway." 

Imagine my surprise the following day waking up to the smell of corned beef and the sound of eggs cracking on the pan. I couldn't remember the last time I had breakfast at my apartment on a week day, so this was a real treat. He was up and about, greeting me with his customary, "Oooowww Joyyy!!" in a low voice, to which I always responded with a cheerful, "Ooowww Jase!!!" 

I left for work and I told Jason to live like a local. Walk around the neighborhood, eat at any of the Greek restaurants for which Astoria was known for, explore Steinway avenue - a Middle Eastern town lined with Halal grocers, Doner Shawarma shops and Hookah lounges. 

Casually, I said to him before I left, "To get the full experience of a local, can you drop off my laundry at the laundromat?" Hahaha! I live on a four floor walk-up. Carrying three weeks worth of clothes could get pretty heavy and intense for me. He said, "Sure! What else do you need help with?"

When I came home from work and got in the shower, I discovered my tub draining like it was new. Jason had fixed the problem and even cleaned it up a  bit!. Imagine my joy and embarrassment that this guest of mine had fixed my plumbing problems when I should have been the one doing it for him. But that was Jason - his generosity of heart, ingenious way of fixing things and being an older brother came naturally to him.

We caught up on life over the next few days through several shared meals. I told him everything that had happened to me since I left Manila, some 5 years ago. Incidentally, it was at his rooftop that SFC gave me my farewell party the night before I left for the US. I shared with him my lowest points throughout my journey in the US and he always said the right things to make me feel that God's love spares, delivers and provides in His own time. God's will is perfect and the only thing to do is to trust and surrender.

The times when he'd be quiet, I would find him busy editing photos on his laptop or out on my fire escape smoking and watching the world below pass him by. He really was living like a true local. I have never once opened my window and stepped out on to my fire escape. Only Jason did that in my 11 years of staying in that apartment. When I look out that window, I always remember him and it always made me smile. 

One of the shoots he had with the wedding couple was at Grand Central Terminal. I helped spot the light for his shoot. With zero experience, I just held that contraption acting like his side kick. He later told me he was going to give me a free photo shoot at a venue of my choice. I was excited with the thought of having my own pictorial but embarrassed to pose. He suggested Central Park but I ultimately decided to do it in Chelsea with my favorite NY landmark as the background - the Flat Iron Building. The choice made simple by the fact that it was near Shake Shack and Eataly. Two things Jason had heard of but hadn't yet gone to. 

The shoot went smoothly although I realized that posing was such hard work! It was comedic to remember Jason prompting me to pose (like a true photographer). My reply would always be, "I'm shy! I'm shy!" followed by a rambunctious pose. Hahaha!

I took Jason to Shake Shack after the shoot. He had such a big, happy smile. He was excited to try that burger after hearing so much about it. Shake Shack was in the middle of Madison Square Park, a dog park. The burger place had a menu for pooches made of cookies, ice cream and a bowl of water on the side for thirsty doggies. I remembered Max, his cute but smelly Bassett Hound, who always howled at visitors when we came to visit Jason in his home. Jason would always tell him to quiet down, motioning to him as if he was going to spank him and Max would quiet down.

Jason was truly the most low-maintenance guest I've ever had in my life. One time, he said he needed to go to Manhattan to meet a friend. I asked him if he wanted me to accompany him since I wasn't sure if he was ready to navigate the subway on his own. He declined and said he'll be ok. I gave him instructions. He left and I fell asleep.

Almost three hours later, I wake up, check my phone and see a text from him that he's outside. I hear a very faint knock on my door and I jump up realizing my phone was on silent. I open the door and there was Jason waiting for who knows how long. He said he had gotten lost, ended up in the Bronx and decided to come home. I asked him how long he had been waiting out there and proceeded to ask why he didn't bang on the door when I didn't pick-up his call. He said he figured I fell asleep when I didn't pick up and didn't want to wake me. What a man. That's the kind of person Jason was. 

He was mission-ready at all times agreeing to give a talk to the New York chapter of Singles for Christ (SFC). He started by leading praise and worship, doing what he does best with his guitar. I felt transported to my days in Makati and even Australia, when Jason and I along with a handful of Makati SFCers went on Mission. That was where I got to know Jason not only as a brother in Christ and leader but also a friend.

I had missed his brand of inspired worship. I marveled at how he had come a long way. The first time I saw him was when I had my CLP at Sanctuario in Forbes. He was teaching songs and at that time, I could hardly hear his voice. He spoke so softly and so shyly. Less than three years later, I reveled at how his love for God and God's grace propelled him to become this awesome, inspiring worship leader. I could visibly see the joy on his face as he sang with his eyes closed and with a truly happy smile on his face. Sometimes I just want to watch him because it made me long for that joy and peace that can only come from God, radiating from within.

Being the head of the family came naturally for Jason who after his parents' death took on the role of responsible older brother to two sisters, Tessa and Ghia. Jason often talked about Loi and Amelia. On one of our random online chats in my earlier years in the US, he shared his plans of proposing to Loi and having the ring made with a Tiffany setting. Years later, he became a father who chuckled when he talked about Amelia's funny antics. I would hear him talking to her on the phone when he called home and it made me smile. The servant of God, my brother in Christ, was now a father.

When it was time for him to head to Chicago for the next leg of his trip, we said our goodbyes to which he said, "No goodbyes, just see you later." I told him to come and visit again and he said, "I'll come visit again if you'll have me." I joked and said I was glad he wasn't traumatized by his experience staying at my place.

My apartment suddenly felt so empty after my gracious visitor, who treated me more like a guest in my own home, left New York. I am grateful for those 11 days I got to spend with Jason. 11 days out of his short but well-lived life. His passing teaches me that what makes a life well-lived is not the number of years a person has but the impact he makes on others. Jason left the world a better place. He loved well and lived well so much so that heaven is his for the taking. I have no doubt that even up there, he is living like a true local.

Katherine Joy
May 6, 2021