Rico and his field of dreams
- Maridol Rañoa-Bismark () - February 10, 2002 - 12:00am
Like most Pisceans, Rico Yan is a born dreamer. And his dreams are far from common, mind you. Rico’s is the lofty goal of someone who thinks and acts not just for himself but for others as well.

"I want to be an example of the greatness of God," he says unabashedly. "I want to show others how the undoable can be done."

Tall order? Perhaps. But Rico has a plain and simple formula for reaching his goal: doing his job to the best of his abilities.

Not that he falls short of expectations. Rico is one of the lucky guys who can kiss showbiz goodbye anytime and focus on his many thriving businesses instead. His first venture, Tequila Joe, with bosom buddy Miguel Zubiri, has three branches: Glorietta, El Pueblo in Ortigas and Alabang. A new branch in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, will open soon.

Another business, Orbitz, which rode on the Pearl Sago trend years back, has more than 200 franchises nationwide. He also has Buddy’s Burgers plus Fries and Wings along Meralco Avenue, Alabang Town Center and Glorietta 4.

As if that’s not enough, Rico will open Fry This, specializing in what else–fried meat and vegetables, next month, in time for his birthday.

Rico describes himself as the troubleshooter – the guy you call when kitchen equipment breaks down, when the overhead costs shoot up, or when a scary epidemic like Mad Cow Disease or Bird’s Flue threatens the business. "When the Bird Flue scare came up, my partners and I wasted no time putting a disclaimer – a notice that our product is free from the disease – in front of the stores," says Rico.

If he seems to know all the tricks in the (food) trade, it’s because Rico has a Marketing Management degree from De La Salle University to back him up and a 95 percent grade for his college thesis on Kenny Rogers and Jollibee to boot.

As a student, Rico dug up all the data he could find about fastfood chains, including the popular Burger Machine stores dotting the main streets of the metro.

Tell him he must be ultra rich by now (with a general for a grandfather, he never knew poverty), and Rico tells you about an old Minolta he borrowed from an uncle. Translation: trash the wealth angle.

He cites other examples. A Valentine date with girlfriend and Got 2 Believe leading lady Claudine Barretto is spent, not in some luxury yacht but in a hidden restaurant where they can enjoy a candlelit dinner. Birthdays and other special occasions find Rico, not in some jewelry store with sky’s-the limit prices, but in a flower shop buying roses for Claudine.

Is he uh, stingy, then? Rico is too well-bred to show any hint of displeasure. Instead, he flashes a bedimpled smile and replies, "I’m just practical."

The guy is head over heels in love. He doesn’t run out of superlatives in describing Claudine (they’ve been on for four years).

"She’s a sunflower that brings a smile on your face. If she were an animal, Claudine will be a graceful gazelle. I’d color her peach for daintiness and fragility," Rico goes through a fit of inspiration about the woman he alternately calls "Princess," "Darling," "Madame" and "Kumander."

Figures why Star Cinema decided to bank on the sweethearts’ chemistry in the romantic film Got 2 Believe. As the photographer Lorenz who catches wedding planner Toni (Claudine) unaware with embarrassing shots of her (e.g. wearing a funny facial expression) and publishing them in the newspapers, Rico plays someone confused about what he wants to achieve in this world. The character may be worlds apart from the real Rico, who even now, is clear about what his wants ("a comfortable life with my wife and our five or six children"), but that’s fine.

Rico is not a veteran of romantic movies for nothing. Besides, there’s always his dictum: "I’m doing my job to the best of my ability for Someone else’s greater glory."

Now, how can anyone quarrel with that?

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