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In memoriam of Rico Yan
Beloved Son, Brother, Cousin, Friend
and ROLE MODEL of the Philippines
Rico Yan - His Untimely Death
THURSDAY night actor Rico Yan was at the piano bar of a Palawan resort singing a love song he dedicated to "the woman who's now out of my life."
He crooned Jamie Rivera's hit "Falling for You" for his ex-girlfriend Claudine Barretto, with whom he broke up early this month after a four-year relationship. He also sang David Pomeranz's "Got to Believe in Magic," the theme of the actor's recent movie of the same title opposite Barretto.
The next morning Yan was found dead in bed in a garden cottage of the Dos Palmas Resort. He was 27.
"He was in high spirits," recalled GMA-7 newscaster Arnold Clavio, who had jammed with Yan at Dos Palmas. "He sang other songs and we wrapped up around 4 a.m. He didn't have any premonition (of his death) at all."
According to a medical report released by Yan's family after an autopsy conducted Friday night at the Arlington Funeral Homes, the actor died of pancreatic hemorrhage.
Text messages that circulated Friday said Yan died from an overdose of Ecstasy pills, which he reportedly took the night before he died.
But show biz insiders, including director Olive Lamasan who worked with Yan in two movies, said he was never a user.
"I worked with him for eight months when we filmed 'Got 2 Believe' and we talked about life on the set," Lamasan told the Inquirer.
"He was very much against drugs and he took pride in not having tried drugs in any form. He was a staunch supporter of the anti-drug campaign."
Indeed, the education department appointed Yan in 1999 as spokesperson for the youth's anti-drug campaign.
At press time Claudine Barretto was reportedly still in a state of shock and under medication.
"She cannot make any statement as of now," her elder sister Marjorie said. "But she requests that we pray for Rico and that we respect the rights of those who are grieving."
At the time of his death, Yan was one of the most popular and sought-after young actors. (See related story on this page.)
He was part of the triumvirate Whattamen-with Dominic Ochoa, who was with him at the resort, and Marvin Agustin. Together they were mainstays of the weekly ABS-CBN program of the same name.
"I treat Rico as my brother," Ochoa said. "I don't have too many friends in show biz. He was a true friend."
But Yan was also a business-minded young man who made his millions even away from the cameras.
He was a franchise owner of the restaurant-bar Tequila Joe's (with Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Jean Henri Lhuillier, brothers Griffith and Eugene Go, Bobby Goco and Sandra Vidarte). He owned Orbitz Pearl shakes (with some Chinese friends), which has 150 stalls in Metro Manila.
He also opened a coffee shop called Timbuktu and another restaurant called Java Hut, both in Malate, Manila.
Yan was a commercial model when ABS-CBN resident director Johnny Manahan spotted him in the Eskinol Skin Master TV ad. He was asked to audition and was subsequently launched as part of Star Circle Batch '96.
His expressive face and boyish appeal enhanced the sales of such products as Greenwich Pizza, Nissin's Eggnog and Rainforest Mineral Water. He was also the image model of Molecules shirts.
He made the girls giggle playing wholesome romantic leads in movies like "Paano ang Puso Ko," "Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita," "Radio Romance" and "Flames." He also starred in soaps like "Mula sa Puso" and "Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan."
He even wrote a column, "Boys to Men," for the Manila Bulletin in 1999.
He was also one of the co-hosts of the daily noontime program, "Magandang Tanghali, Bayan."
All these have come to rest in a coffin now lying at the Divine Child Chapel in La Salle Greenhills. (Yan was a product of the De La Salle system.)
Fans may view Yan's remains tomorrow only, according to the actor's elder brother Bobby. But the family may have difficulty keeping out the fans. There's a long line of mourning fans leading to the chapel.
Reporter Joel Contrivida of radio station dyPR conducted what was to be Yan's last interview at the airport in Puerto Princesa City.
In the interview, Yan said he was going solo flight because Barretto, his co-star in "Got 2 Believe," was in Subic with her family.
Asked about his relationship with the actress, he said: "Let's not dwell on that. (We rest during) Holy Week."
It was actually Ochoa who answered most of the questions during the interview.
Asked if they were not afraid of the Abu Sayyaf striking again at Dos Palmas, Ochoa said in Filipino: "If your time's up, your time's up. Let's see if the government can do anything about that."
It was from Dos Palmas that the bandit group abducted in May last year a group including Martin and Gracia Burnham, the American missionary couple that it is still holding hostage to this day.
The resort reopened early this month after being forced to close as a result of near-zero occupancy in the wake of the kidnappings.
Dos Palmas management could not be reached for comment until press time.
Yan arrived in Palawan Tuesday with Ochoa, the latter's girlfriend Janna Victoria and friends from Smart's Talk and Text phone service.
It was Ochoa who found the body, which, according to Clavio, was in pajamas.
Ochoa said he went up to the second floor of the cottage around 9:40 a.m. Friday to awaken Yan. They were to go to the nearby Snake Island.
"The doctors said he must have been dead for hours," Ochoa said.
Physicians led by Dr. Rosalie Reyes from the Adventist Hospital in Puerto Princesa rushed to Dos Palmas.
"We tried to resuscitate him starting from his room in the resort up to the hospital, but to no avail," Reyes told the Inquirer in a phone interview. "He was already dead. We recommended an autopsy."
The actor's father and brother, Roberto and Bobby Yan, arrived after noon in a chartered Sea Air plane.
"This is the longest trip I have taken in my life, to fetch the remains of my son whom I dearly love," said Roberto Yan.
The Yans refused to have the body autopsied at the Adventist Hospital and brought it to Manila around 5 p.m. in a private plane sent by ABS-CBN chair Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III.
Throughout the flight, a weeping Bobby Yan stayed close to the body bag containing his brother's remains, occasionally unzipping it and touching the dead man's face.
The aircraft landed at the Meralco Hangar at the Manila Domestic Airport at 6:45 p.m. Gen. Edgardo Aglipay, whose wife Maui is the sister of Roberto Yan, was on hand to meet the group.
Sometime in the day a distraught Ochoa denied the text messages saying that Yan was using drugs.
"Please, whoever is saying that . . . he was using Ecstasy, it is not true," Ochoa said in Taglish. "Don't give my friend any headaches anymore. You have no right. He never took drugs. Whoever is saying that should die!"
Yan was the third in a brood of four children.
He was the grandson of former AFP chief of staff and ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Manuel Yan, who was appointed by deposed President Joseph Estrada as political adviser on the peace process.
In an interview last year with the Inquirer, Ambassador Yan said: "He (Rico) wanted to pursue a career in show business but we wanted him to finish his studies, and he obliged.
"When we got together, once or twice a month on Sundays for family reunions, Rico made it a point to be there. He was pilyo (naughty) but very thoughtful. Wherever he went, he always brought pasalubong for his lola and me."
Before he entered show biz in 1996, Yan earned a business management degree from De La Salle University. He completed his elementary education at the Xavier School and high school at La Salle-Zobel in Alabang.
"I will always remember Rico as a perfect gentleman, intelligent, extremely witty, an enthusiastic student who was always willing to discover and learn new things," Lamasan said.
The director has other memories: "I will never forget that he cooked his special soup for me last Valentine's Day and placed it in a basket with a rose. He made my day special."
A Farewell to Manila's role model to the youth
Greatness does not suffice in describing the life of Ricardo Carlos Castro Yan in the prime of his life. He has got the looks, the talent and brain, which he has shared with us generously.
His reputation, on and off camera, remained untainted until his last breath. He has been a role model to the youth and has inspired them to make the best out of their lives. This whattaguy may have his ups and downs but one may wonder how he managed to emerge victorious in his endeavors, be it in showbiz or business. In all his achievements, he has remained humble.
This self-driven whattamen can get away with anything through his bedimpled smile. When everyone else is frowning, trust this gentleman to coerce you with a twitch of smile on your face, which makes him really popular among his contemporaries. Should you need to speak to someone sensible, "co-Rics" is the right person to talk to. On love, this is what Rico has to say, "Love is never having to say I'm sorry."
Last Friday, the silence of the Holy Week observance was broken when seemingly far-fetched text messages saying that matinee idol Rico Yan is dead circulated the country. Though the public instantly sought out ways to confirm the news, there was still disbelief and outrage in their minds and hearts. Who could have spread such malicious stories? How could Rico, so youthful, so smart and so-alive, be dead?
But unbelievable as it may seem, after a few hours, the news was proven true. Matinee idol Rico Yan died in his sleep last Friday, March 29 at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan. People from all walks of life mourned with his sudden demise - a proof that Rico has made a difference in his 27 years of existence. This feature is dedicated to a soul that has touched numerous lives in one way or another.
So long, Rico - for now at least
Rico's remains were brought to his alma mater for his family, friends, and fans to pay their last respects. Flowers and photos reflected the radiance of the life that Rico led. A solemn mass was celebrated every night at 7 p.m., after which, Rico's loved ones would share their most treasured memories of the actor. Familiar encounters and songs would never fail to bring tears once again to the eyes of those close to Rico.
Talent managers, roadies, and artists from Talent Center, who have known Rico, not only as an actor but as a true person as well, were present to extend their deepest condolences to his bereaved family.
Coney Reyes, who came up in front to relive the purity of Rico's heart, talked about him being a role model for the youth. Having earned a degree in Business Management, Rico made people see the value of one's education; and with his foundation and other charity works, Rico Yan has not only become a star, but also a light and inspiration to those who know him. It's a bitter fact Rico can no longer be with us physically, however, his memory would always linger, giving all his family and friends the reason and determination to continue what he has started.
The grief-stricken ABS-CBN family aired special tributes in Rico Yan's memory. The actor's Magandang Tanghali Bayan family had a weeklong special, Isang Linggong Pasasalamat, in thanksgiving for all the joy and cheer Rico has brought to their lives. Other shows, which include The Buzz, Pipol, The Correspondents, and Isyu, also presented a loving remembrance of Rico Yan's intensity as an actor, a leader, and a servant.
Showbiz friends also gathered last Wednesday in WhattaGuy, Para Sa'yo 'to Bro to celebrate the life of the friend who will never be lost in their hearts and memories. The group, led by Rico's best friends, Dominic Ochoa and Marvin Agustin, gathered at the ABS-CBN Studios in song and prayer, bringing back to Rico the melody and hope he has so tenderly brought to all of us.
La Salle Gymnasium
Rico's remains were transferred to the La Salle Gymnasium where the final mass before the funeral was held. Special passes were given out to the fans who have waited in line for days to see the young actor for the last time. Countless friends joined Rico's family in a large but solemn gathering to thank Rico for bringing special meaning to their lives. Fr. Caluag, Rico's spiritual adviser, gave a homily that touched everyone, making them accept the truth of the Lord's plan, and His promise of eternal joy.
After the mass, Rico's Mom gave the eulogy, saying that she has finally come to understand meaning of her son's death. Mrs. Yan further said that she has lost a son, but that day, all of those present stood as one family, bound by Rico's loving memory.
Manila Memorial Park
As early as 8 am, Thursday, an estimated 4000 people were already waiting at the Manila Memorial Park. Thousands more arrived as the time to lay Rico to rest drew near.
At 12 noon, when the sun was at its brightest and highest point, Rico Yan--actor, son, brother, friend--was put to his final resting place. Friends from in and outside of show business, whom Rico has touched in one way or another, stood before the family mausoleum, offering flowers and unending love.
Farewell, friend, you will be sorely missed.