Portrait of a sinner as an ‘inspiration’
Half in jest, half in earnest, comedienne Ai-Ai delas Alas vows she will no longer post sexy profile pics on Facebook in light of receiving a papal award recently.
Earlier this year, she made waves when she posted her photo—in a black bikini—to celebrate her ongoing fitness journey. “Instead of a tangga (swimsuit), I’ll wear shorts na lang,” she quipped.
Seriously now. “My priest-friends say nothing in my life should change even after the papal award. It’ll still be normal. But then again, I’ve always been choosy when it comes to my roles onscreen.”
In her latest indie drama, Louie Ignacio’s “Area,” she plays a prostitute who remains steadfast in her faith in spite of life’s hardships.
That is precisely the reason why she was bestowed the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award, which was formally given to her on her birthday last Nov. 11, at the Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Giving the papal award to Ai-Ai is in line with the Catholic Church’s “new evangelization” mission, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches explained. “Ai-Ai has always been working for the Kingdom of God in her own field, show business. She contributes in spreading the Gospel among our countrymen.”
Her colleagues in the industry attended the awarding—Megastar Sharon Cuneta, Nova Villa, Alden Richards, Arnell Ignacio, John Lapus, Erik Santos, Kris Lawrence, Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola.
Sharon said: “I am so happy for my BFF (best friend forever).” They call each other “BFF,” after their comedy film, released in 2009.
Mega was left in stitches throughout Ai-Ai’s speech.
“I got a bellyache from laughing so hard,” Sharon recounted. “I can’t single out one joke, but when Ai-Ai started thanking her mom, I completely lost it. Nahilo ako (I became dizzy)!”
Alden said of his Lola Babah in the kalyeserye: “She deserves all the blessings coming her way. She is kind and it’s not surprising for her to receive an award from the Pope. I know she will do more good things.”
Jose, another kalyeserye costar, quipped: “I wish Ai-Ai would be blessed all the more, so she can continue to be a blessing to the Church.”
Wally, who also works with Ai-Ai in the kalyeserye segment of “Eat Bulaga,” described his fellow comic as “an inspiration.”
“I wish Ai-Ai would never tire of doing good for others,” Wally said. “Many were surprised to learn that Ai-Ai not only makes people laugh on TV, in the movies and onstage, but has been quietly helping priests and nuns all these years. This is the highest honor a show biz personality can receive.”
It’s even bigger than a best actress award, Ai-Ai conceded.
When she first learned of the papal award, Ai-Ai was incredulous, related preacher, lay minister and friend Bo Sanchez.
“She was shocked. She asked: ‘Why me? I’m a sinner!’” Bo pointed out that the Vatican had done extensive research on Ai-Ai. “The Church conducted an investigation on her life, her colorful past, her [triumphs and] failures.”
The preacher said: “The Church saw how Jesus is working in her life… [through] her selfless work for the poor. God uses broken people. And, through our cracks, His light shines.”
She plans to visit the Vatican to thank Pope Francis early next year.
Her current advocacy is the construction of the Kristong Hari Basilica in Quezon City. “My other dream is to put up a building for Light of Jesus. I’ve told Brother Bo about this… I want our community to have its own place—for our outreach programs and other projects.”
Unknown to her fans, Ai-Ai has made it an annual tradition to visit Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, in Tayuman, Manila, on her birthday.
She feeds and bathes the sick and elderly, but seldom talks about her work in public.
Her devotion started even before her eldest son Sancho was born, two decades ago. “I confided in a designer-friend. I complained that I was depressed,” Ai-Ai recalled. “He told me that I should visit the Missionaries of Charity… to see just how small my problems were in comparison.”
The first time she visited the nuns, she was stunned speechless. “Natulala ako! They walked around barefoot, helping the needy.”
Recently, she called the nuns on the phone: “Sister, let’s party!”
She confessed that her childhood dream was to be a nun. “When they were younger, I asked my children if it was OK with them for me to join a nunnery when they’re grown up. They all laughed!”
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