Ai-Ai de las Alas shared that she was surprised to see star cager James Yap on the set of her upcoming movie Kung Fu Divas last March 11. Apparently, he was there for the birthday celebration of a common acquaintance. “Oo, dumalaw siya kasi birthday nun nung assistant ni Dondon Monteverde. Nung nagkakagulo silang ganyan, sabi ko, ‘Sino yun?’ ’Si James Yap.’ ‘James Yap na totoong James Yap?’ ‘Oo, totoo nandito siya.’ Sabi ko, ‘Weh?’ Parang ‘di ako makapaniwala na nandiyan siya sa set. Sabi niya, ‘My friend!’ Ako naman, ‘My friend you’re here!’ Tapos picture taking kami ni lolo. Best friend ko siya. E di ba sabi nga niya BFF niya ako sa Instagram,” she said in an interview with ABS-CBN reporters during her contract renewal with the Kapamilya network last March 21.
When asked how her friend/co-host Kris Aquino reacted about her unexpected meeting with James, Ai-Ai explained that it shouldn’t be a big deal, adding that it’s better to be friends with everyone. “Wala, okay lang. Alangan naman paalisin ko siya (James) sa set. Hindi ko naman birthday yun. Sabi nga ni Vice Ganda dati, masarap yung walang kaaway. Puro positive lang. And noon pa naman niloloko ko na si James eh, ‘My friend, ba’t mo ba ako inaaway? Bati na tayo.’” Ai-Ai and James had a rift when the comedienne supposedly made a tactless remark at the height of the latter’s marital problem with his now ex-wife Kris back in 2007.
Ai-Ai further shared that she and James have remained on good terms through the years. “Oo nagkakatextan kami. Parang, ‘Uy may game pala kayo ngayon. Pwede manood?’ ‘O sige friend ilang ticket?’ Mga ganong chika.” She added that they became friends through Kris. “Dati pa kami [magkaibigan]. Kasi nung minsan nagusap sila ni Kris sa phone nung nagshu-shoot kami, parang andito kami sa Quezon City, sabi niya, ‘O eto si friendship.’ Pinasa sa akin. Sabi ko, ‘Sino ba ito? My friend, bakit mo ako inaaway, bati na tayo.’ Tapos tawa ng tawa. Dun nag-start.”
She was quick to say though that she never had a crush on the star cager. “Sino, kay James? Hindi naman! Siyempre pogi naman si James pero kumbaga hindi kami talo, siyempre dyowa ni friendship yun ‘di ba? Parang kapatid lang [ang tingin ko sa kanya].”
As it is, Ai-Ai is all praises for James’s impressive talent on the hard court. “Magaling naman talaga siya. Kahit nung hindi pa kami bati, sinabi ko talaga ‘yan kay friendship. ‘Friendship, kaya pala in love na in love ka kay James Yap, magaling kaya.’ Last year nung nag-Rain or Shine (basketball team) na nag-champion, grabe, ‘pag hinahawakan ni James yung bola, hindi ko alam sila kalaban ha, hinahawakan pa lang ni James yung bola alam ko na eh, paghawak palang niya pasok na eh. ‘Ay, ang galing pala ni James mag-basketball. Kaya pala marami siyang fans sa PBA.’ Kaya pala ganon. magaling talaga siyang manlalaro.”