by Nikki Careen Palacios and Kim Arveen Patria
He was smiling.
“Darling, I wish you were here,” said the song that played as people wearing brightly colored shirts poured into the College of Mass Communication Auditorium yesterday for a service for Adrian Olympia, a senior film student who passed away last Friday.
An image of a bespectacled Adrian was flashed on the wall of the auditorium’s small stage, causing sighs from people who opened the doors and saw his smiling face. Some covered their eyes and ears so as not to see his face or hear the song lest tears betray the happiness they promised.
The service began with a Catholic mass presided over by former University of the Philippines Chaplain Fr. Jessell Gerald Gonzales who encouraged Adrian’s friends to live his legacy. “What makes us immortal is the fact that people remember us. Of you want Adrian to be immortal, tell people how great he was and how he loved much,” he said.
True enough, after the mass, the audience that overflowed to the lobby outside the auditorium stayed to listen to stories about Adrian.
“Nobody’s allowed to cry, that’s our rule for tonight,” said Candice Perez, president of the UP Cineastes’ Studio, who was first to deliver a eulogy for their organization’s beloved member.
Despite this rule, those who shared their favorite memories of Adrian Olympia did so in between deep breaths and with failing voices.
Aside from Perez, among those who gave eulogies were his best friend Jann Mikhail Lecaros, currently Playboy Philippines’ managing editor; his housemate Filipino fashion designer Santi Obcena; his partner (who requested not to be named); and Frances Grace Mortel, who discovered his body in the apartment they shared together. They have just arrived from Mindoro where they attended Adrian’s funeral last Tuesday.
Members of UP Cineastes’ Studio fondly remember Adrian as the person most feared by applicants of the organization. “Every applicant experienced his bullying,” a member said.
Perez, in her eulogy said that all the members have memorized Adrian’s full name and, at her prodding, they chanted, “Adrian Solomon Benigno Zerubabel A. Olympia.”
“In the same way that we have memorized his name, we shall remember him as a friend,” Perez added. She also encouraged her members to think of their efforts for “Haute Auteur”, a silent film festival sponsored by the organization, as their gift to Adrian who was to head the activity.
On his Facebook profile, Adrian described himself as “a sucker for the little things, movie marathons, jumping up and down, crossing bridges, long walks in silence, romantic cheesy things (and) not giving up.”
His friends, meanwhile, addressing Adrian directly, said that he was “his greatest art.” Some, over bursts of laughter, said they would not call Adrian a good person or a bad one. “He was who he was, and we loved him for it,” they said.
After the service, sky lanterns were lit from the UP Media Center grounds and released into the pitch-black sky. Asked to send their messages to Adrian, with voices from which tears can be heard, his friends cursed and shouted as they did when he was alive.
On their way home, those who loved Adrian stopped to look at the evening sky and some can be heard singing, “I could have told you, Adrian, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”
And as the flickering lights floated in memory of Adrian Olympia, one can say for certain that once again, he was smiling. Immortal, he shall smile eternally.