Metro stands still as Rico is buried

- Nikko Dizon, Cecille Suerte Felipe -
Metro Manila was at a virtual standstill yesterday as the public stopped to watch, live or on television, the burial of actor Rico Yan.

Yan, 27, who died in his sleep on Good Friday, was interred around noon at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City with some 20,000 people in attendance, the fourth-largest funeral in the private cemetery’s history.

Some 300 policemen and 40 cemetery guards struggled to control the crowd that started gathering as early as 5 a.m. in a bid to have a vantage view of the proceedings which were attended by weeping relatives and showbiz celebrities.

Thousands of other fans slept overnight on the pavement around the La Salle-Greenhills in San Juan to join the 7:30 a.m. necrological Mass that was celebrated before Yan’s remains were brought to the cemetery.

But only 1,000 fans were allowed inside the school’s gym while the remaining 1,5000 seats were reserved for Yan’s relatives and friends, many them popular showbiz personalities.

After the Mass, the funeral motorcade, led by at least 10 motorcycle policemen, passed through streets lined by showbiz fans, many of whom were openly weeping for their late idol.

In Manila, television units inside the Masagana shopping mall along Taft Avenue were all tuned to ABS-CBN network, for which Yan worked in a popular noontime variety show and a primetime soap opera.

Many television sets in Manila’s Sampaloc district were evidently tuned in to the same network with one barangay setting up a large television set on a street corner to allow residents to watch the proceedings.

In Sydney, Australia, Filipino residents called up their relatives here to share the moment which was being telecast live via satellite.

In Los Angeles, California, members of a congressional consultative mission, headed by Sen. Edgardo Angara, on the absentee voting bill complained that Filipinos there were more interested in Yan’s funeral than on the pending measure.

"They want to hear more about Rico Yan than about the details of the absentee voting bill," griped Sen. Renato Cayetano, a member of the congressional mission.

Irene Cortez, a pharmacist who immigrated to the US two years ago, expressed her grief over the death of Yan and even appealed for clippings on the death of the actor.

At the Manila Memorial Park, the crowd that had been building up since dawn turned rowdy as Yan’s body was motored into the cemetery followed by 14 vans filled with relatives and showbiz personalities.

Manila Memorial Park Officials said Yan’s funeral was the fourth largest crowd drawer after the 1983 burial of assassinated former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., the 1977 burial of singer Eddie Peregrina and the 2000 funeral of former Pasay City Mayor Pablo Cuneta.

Yan’s former girlfriend actress Claudine Barreto was sighted along with her sister Marjorie and brother-in-law Dennis Padilla at a distance from the funeral rites and left before the burial was over.Fans climbed trees and mausoleums, crawled under perimeter ropes and sneaked past policemen to get near Yan’s showbiz friends, many of whom opted to remain in the vans to prevent further disorder during the interment rites.

Yan’s maternal uncle, Metro Manila police chief Director Edgar Aglipay was already at the cemetery three hours before the hearse’s arrival but police were clearly outnumbered by fans, some of whom even chanted the names of Yan’s showbiz friends during the interment rites.

A group of men, who had climbed a makeshift tent, chanted the name of comedian Bentong, Yan’s colleague at the noontime show Magandang Tanghali Bayan.

An obviously irritated Yan family member threw a half-filled bottle of water at the group.

But the group turned almost motionless as Yan’s coffin was interred in a niche reserved for his grandfather, former Ambassador Manuel Yan, beside that of his late grandmother Amelia Yan. — With reports from Non Alquitran, Efren Danao, Nestor Etolle, Jose Aravilla












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