ENTERTAINMENT

The Lloyd Cadena I’ll remember

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One of Lloyd Cadena’s closest friends says goodbye to the beloved vlogger. Portrait by KAT UYTIEPO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — He was a pimply kid in high school. I don't remember at which point he actually came out, but when I met him he had crushes on girls, although he was an avid Mariah Carey fan and would always belt out her songs at the top of his lungs. That was the Lloyd I came to know.

High school was filled with the typical drama that you would expect a bunch of hormonal teenagers, and Lloyd was always the center of attention. He was the funny guy who made fun of everything and everyone. When I joined his little clique we called ourselves The Chaka Authority because we liked to make "chismis" every chance we get, and we naturally stirred up all kinds of drama. That's how we formed this bond that stood the test of time.

The seven of us were supposed to grow old together. There are friends who come and go, and there are what you'd call “forever friends.” These are friends I wanted to be by my side when I get married, who will be the ninangs and ninongs of my children, who guide me during my quarter-life crisis, my mid-life crisis, and all the other crises I’m bound to face in my lifetime. I never would’ve guessed we would lose a member of our group before we even turn thirty.

Lloyd started vlogging even before the word "vlog" had been invented. So most people know him as the funny guy with the loud laugh, but to me and his friends he was more than just the class clown. Beneath the goofy face is a person who's insecure about many things and who, just like the rest of us, just wanted to be loved. Lloyd is probably the kindest and most generous person I know. He just had so much love to give and he gave it away freely, never asking for anything in return. But more than anything in the world, he just wanted to meet someone who would accept and love him unconditionally.

The Chaka Authority and friends during our senior prom. (Standing, from left) Lloyd, Martin, Kenneth, and Lobi. (Seated, from left): Danille, Richann, Cath, me, and Alehia. Photo courtesy of KAT UYTIEPO

After not seeing each other for a while, we decided to meet up. Lloyd came from Tagaytay to shoot a video and when he arrived it was almost midnight. He had a long day, and even though he was tired, he still had so much energy. He sang Jaya's songs the whole night. Photo courtesy of KAT UYTIEPO

Lloyd taught me a thing or two about vulnerability. Every time he tells us just how much he wanted to find love, it would always surprise me to see this sensitive side of him. It was hard to believe that even Lloyd Cadena, THE Lloyd Cadena, who has made millions of people laugh, was afraid of rejection, of getting hurt, and he was very honest about it. He certainly had his share of heartbreaks. He was repeatedly hurt by guys who couldn’t accept that he was way more successful than they were, or guys who simply wanted his money and nothing else. Every time Lloyd got hurt, he would just keep making funny vlogs. That's not something his millions of followers get to see because Lloyd has always been good at hiding his feelings.

Last year, he invited us to a club to celebrate. He had just bought a house, a dream he never thought he would accomplish at such a young age. Every time we go out, Lloyd would always pay the bill, no matter how much it is. Not to show off how much more successful he was than the rest of us, but just because he’s a natural-born giver, and it's always his first instinct to give and share.

That night, he wanted to celebrate. He quickly became emotional. All he ever wanted was to take care of his family, and now, his parents will have a decent house to spend their retirement years comfortably. I haven't seen him cry since high school, so I couldn't help but tear up as well.

He cried because he was happy, because he was loved by so many fans, and because he couldn't ask for more. I told him I was very proud of him, not just because he's done so well for himself, but because despite his success he had stayed the same, modest and more down to earth than any of us.

Looking back, I'm glad I went that night and shared his joy. I know he lived a full life, and I will forever remember that moment when he had tears in his eyes and said, "I'm happy."