Ricky, Whatta La Sallian!
- Maria Katrina Tan Pajarillo () - May 8, 2002 - 12:00am
Some people are late bloomers like Ricky. He moved from Xavier School, an all-boys elementary school, to the co-ed La Salle - Zobel in Alabang for high school. His classmates recalled this guy entered the Zobel campus a quiet freshman and morphed into a naughty and witty senior when he graduated in 1992. He earned his marketing degree in De La Salle Taft. Classmates and friends in Zobel recalled their happy days with Ricky, the late bloomer in senior high, in an interview. Nobody knew in high school that Ricky would be a model youth.

They felt honored to have spent days, even the raucous times, with him.

Ricky belonged to Senior-C (class '92) the section where among the 40 students were all of the C.A.T. officers and a few cheerleaders. They laughed and toiled but neither Physics nor History nor, Math nor vocabulary skills lessened their enjoyment in their last year in Zobel.

Nobody knew Ricky would zoom to stardom while he was in high school. But they predicted what color he would be wearing to class everyday, rain, or storm. Others varied their colors from beige, gray, to white. But he, without fail, wore blue.

Open the La Sallian yearbook '92, they said, and look at Ricky with spiky h air. His teeth were braced but that did show in his official photo. Instead he showed a dimpled smile that was his trademark. He projected the look of innocence of the cat that just swallowed the family goldfish.

As if he were a regular visitor, Ricky visited the vice-principal as a late comer to the morning flag ceremony (30 to 45 minutes!). It was his good friends said, that there were only two semesters in a school year: Ricky was already running out of believable excuses and his 'Just-woke-up-from-bed' look was written all over his face.

Senior year was when Ricky probably discovered that comedy entertainment figured somehow in his future. With some of his seatmates, Ricky stood before the stand fan, turned its blades on at full blast, and wailed and wailed t he Top Hits a capella (voice antics). The consolidated result of the team wailing, classmates swore, was ear-piercing like when you screech fingernails on the blackboard. Maybe that was how Ricky and his friend, Tristan Yu, rehearsed a composition 'Kokobarkada' to the tune of "Copacabana."

And now that it is safe to admit, Ricky's friends confessed to cheap thrills. They would sneak into the office of the vice-principal and -- with the help of a look-out -- they would drag her sofa to the corridor at break time or before homeroom starts. It was their way of feeling at home.

The creative mind knew no boundaries for Ricky at senior year. He staged a missile attack in the classroom by flicking bits of paper on others with hi s thumb and forefinger till these pieces would be as huge as a beach ball flown on the air specially at the C.A.T room. Seniors were good at suppressing their laughter as soon as the teacher faced the class. Ricky and friends also played their games of dart surreptitiously. When it was turned around , a corkboard hanging on a wall was converted to a dartboard.

Ricky was known also for his porcupine hair. His barber always cut his hair so short it was standing like nails. His was the smile worn every minute, and he was so good at cracking jokes that nobody could tell from his face if he was covering up a problem.

Ricky was an average student. He worked hard but high grades eluded him. He envied one of his classmates who showed him top marks. How he wished that he could bring home a scorecard flowering with 90s.

Test schedules were always panic time. He borrowed notes. His favorite consultant for Physics and Trigonometry was Tristan Yu; for vocabulary skills and history, Claire Azarcon. But the end of examination days was the start of a new corridor antic. Freed from exam pressures, his imagination grew. Lockers to him were like filing cabinets at the morgue.

Only today would it be revealed to classmates that he was responsible for gluing those tombstones on the swing doors of their lockers in school. He cut cartolina tombstone-size, and scrawled in pentel pen ink the words RIP and the supposed names of the resident corpses.

He was a good listener and a natural speaker, two merits that served him well in the reel world later. He communicated with body language: legend had it he flashed a dimpled smile and lighted up a bright pair of eyes, and he disarmed teachers from scolding him.

Friends recalled that Ricky never forgot to thank them if they did him favors. If he crossed them, he apologized. If he had enemies, none of his friends recalled any. Because Ricky was one who always wanted to be in the good graces of everyone. When friends felt low, his sense of humor was infectious and lightened up the burden.

His only stage acting in Zobel, friends said, was unforgettable. It was neither at the grandstand in the school gym nor at the Meralco theatre. It was in school grounds auditorium, and he turned a serious role as a security guard into a comic. He worked hard for his role but alas; he danced with two left feet. His classmates were in stitches, entertained by his unintended portrayal. His performance did not give anybody inkling that this fellow would be a movie star, a record crowd-drawer in a few years. But at that moment they loved him just for trying.

He first attended College of Saint Belied and transferred to De La Salle Taft for his marketing course. His grandfather, Ambassador, offered him schooling in London. But he preferred to finish college here, and not passing De La Salle University was the first time Ricky had that frowning and unexplainable face.

Ricky formed the typical La Sallian. He was committed for he believed the importance of education no matter how hard it is. Competent for he remained and gained to have that clear and critical thinking and faced all the struggles. Confident for he was fair and honorable with a strong belief. Compassionate with deep social awareness with respect to the environment and to the people and most importantly he was Christian he lived to witness in God's scriptures and brought himself his strong faith.

He indeed had objectives in his life, he knew the vision and saw his mission. He pursuit his education, strove to find his potentials and prove, he gained the importance of responsibilities and the generosity with simplicity and humility.

Ricky passed away on a Good Friday 2002. I volunteered to write about Ricky for our high school paper in Zobel, but the fondness with which his classmates and his friends talked about him, I felt the love they nursed for a classmate they called Ricky that gave me the inspiration, the hopes and faith. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause to Ricardo Carlos Castro Yan who is better known as the matinee idol Rico Yan.

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