Remembering Rico Yan 20 years after his death

Published April 15, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Robert Requintina

It was Good Friday when fans were shocked to learn of the sudden demise of heartthrob Rico Yan at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan on March 29, 2002.

Colleagues of the actor were also devastated when they heard the news. At that time, social media was still not in fashion, so it was only in the afternoon when the radio broke the sad story, even if the actor had already died in the morning.

Yan was on a Holy Week vacation with five of his friends at the posh resort when he passed on. He was 27 when he died in 2002. Reports said Yan’s family wanted him to join the Holy Week break in Cebu, but he decided to go to Palawan not just for recreation but to shoot a segment for a Kapamilya show.

Claudine Barretto, Yan’s former girlfriend, was in a state of shock when she woke up in the morning. She was hysterical and had to be sedated.

Police ruled out foul play in the demise of Yan. Then Chief Superintendent Edgardo Aglipay said that two teams of investigators revealed that Yan died in his sleep from cardiac arrest due to haemorrhagic pancreatitis.

Actor Dominic Ochoa, one of the companions of Yan in Palawan, recalled waking up Yan around 9 a.m. but his body was already stiff and lifeless on March 29.

Photo restored by Dexter Mendoza

The night before Yan died, Dominic said in multiple reports that they attended a party and went to their cottage around 2 a.m. on March 29. Dominic also said he and his other friends heard Yan groaning the night before, but thought he was just having a bad sleep.

There were also reports that Yan ate so much seafood and downed drinks at the party.

Yan was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City on April 4, 2002.

Twenty years ago since his death, Yan is still alive in the hearts of Pinoy movie fans.

“Gone too soon but always in our hearts,” read one of the messages for the late actor on Facebook.

Yan was a youth icon when he died. He was a spokesperson for the Department of Education, Culture and Sports in 1998. A year later, Yan became the spokesperson for the Philippine National Red Cross Pledge 25.

He was also a movie king with one of the most charming faces in Philippine cinema. Yan’s final movie “Got 2 Believe” opposite Barretto was a blockbuster when it was shown in theaters nationwide.

Other Yan’s memorable films include Radio Romance, Madrasta; Ama, Ina, Anak; Flames: The Movie; Dahil Mahal Na Mahal Kita; Paano Ang Puso Ko?, Mula Sa Puso, Gimik: The Reunion, and Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay.

In November 2021, Barretto remembered Yan by sharing the love letters she received from him.

Last March 29, 2022, Barretto joined Mrs. Teresita Castro-Yan, mother of the actor, in commemorating his 20th death anniversary at the Manila Memorial Park.

“I know people who still love Rico, and I am very, very grateful for that. Kaya even if he’s gone, of course, we miss him, that’s natural, but I think he lives in your hearts, he lives in our hearts, and, of course, in Claudine’s heart,” said Mrs. Yan.