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RICO YAN: A Funeral Fit For A President for Actor Who Wanted to be One

by: Leah Salterio

He was neither superstar nor president of the republic, but Rico Yan was accorded a funeral fit for one. In unprecedented gesture of fond farewell, Yan’s home studio, ABS-CBN, pre-empted six-hours of regular programming to air on TV live, minute-by-minute coverage of the funeral rites from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque.

When another well-loved movie star, Nida Blanca,died last November, ABS-CBN aired the funeral coverage only on it’s ANC cable channel.

But then the fans of a 27-year-old actor could not have enough of what remained behind. Thousands of people lined in the funeral route. Work in some offices stopped. Traffic along parts of Edsa and South Luzon Express way ground to a halt. From somewhere, confetti rained on the funeral car. At the cemetery, a crowd of about 10,000 waited patiently to send off their idol.

As early as 6 a.m., fans started to arrive at the Manila Memorial Park. Some came all the way from Isabela, Leyte, Iligan, Iloilo, Pangasinan, and Laguna.

The night before, thousands kept vigil outside the La Salle Greenhills chapel so they could attend the burial. There were those who came on buses and jeeps from the provinces and enjured the heat, hunger, thirst and a sleepless night.

“When I  first heard the ne ws, my fist questi on was, “Why Lord?” Then I asked, ”Why Rico?” Yan’s mother, Teresita Castro-Yan, said in the eloquent response at the end of the funeral Mass at the La Salle gymnasium.

 “Now it make sense. Having given joy to so many people, I could not believe that he will leave us sad, distraught or grief-stricken. But with all of you who came here today, I am convinced that he was chosen by God for such a time as this.”

            Yan’s mother and other immediate family members- dad Roby, brother Bobby, and sisters Geraldine and Tina- wore black.   Everyone else came in white, as requested by the actor when he used to joke with friends.

            In his moving homily during the funeral Mass, Fr. Tito Caluag, Yan’s spiritual adviser, disclosed that Rico had wanted to become president.

            “Rico wanted to be a leader but never mentioned leadership because he only wanted to serve,” said Caluag. “He wanted to be like JFK who gave America a sense of pride and class and inspired his people,” said the Jesuit, who concelebrated the Mass with four other priests.

            “(Rico) will never become president of this nation,”Caluag said. “He found a better place. In death, Rico is much larger that life. In death, Rico served his hopes and dreams.”

            Caluag ended his homily with a line from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – “Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

            After Mass, Gary Valenciano  moved everyone to tears when he sang “The Warrior is a Child,” said to be another “request” of Yan’s.


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