The Pinay who won Lee Min Ho’s…selfie

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
The Pinay who won Lee Min Ho�s�selfie
LMH with Crystal Jane Dela Cruz. (Left) LMH’s selfie with Crystal.
Photos courtesy of CRYSTAL JANE DELA CRUZ

In a crowd of about a thousand, mostly K Drama-worshipping females, only one was chosen by Korean superstar Lee Min Ho to take her place by his side onstage (aside from the emcee Sam Oh, of course). For better or for worse, and forever (on her phone, that is) in a selfie the Korean star took of them in front of a thousand other shrieking — if not envious — fans at the Mall of Asia Convention Center.

“I was so shocked!” recalls Crystal Jane Dela Cruz, who I chanced upon as she was leaving the venue with her friends and I was on my way to the Conrad with my former classmate Rina Go.

“I actually wasn’t expecting anything to happen on that day. I just wanted to see him so bad since it’s been seven years since he last visited the country,” Crystal gushed, still on a high after Lee Min Ho, surveying a message board wheeled to him onstage filled with adoring messages on Post-Its from fans, singled out her photo — the only message that had a photo (her grad photo) beside it. (Clever, young lady).

So when Lee Min Ho decided to pick one message, he went for her photo.

“Yes, I knew it was me since I saw it on the screen. The moment he took out my picture, I started shouting “It’s me! It’s me!” But I didn’t expect that he would ask me to come onstage.” Well, dreams do come true. It could happen to you.

I chatted with Crystal early this week, and she was still on Cloud Nine. “It’s been two weeks, but I’m still in a state of disbelief. Everything still feels surreal,” she says.


Crystal just passed her Medical Technology Licensure Exams (MTLE) this year, and the Pachinko star was her inspiration as she was reviewing for them.

“I just wanted to tell him that he was part of my journey, and one of the reasons why I did it!” she adds. Crystal was seated in the Gold Section, and to get there, she coughed up her savings.

“I have liked him since I was 11 years old,” says the 25-year-old medical technologist.  “One of the reasons why idolize him is because of his dedication and his passion in everything he does. How he views life, his perspective, made me love him. He’s still the man whom I admired 14 years ago and he hasn’t changed a bit. No matter how big and successful he is right now, he never forgets to keep his feet on the ground.”

Philstar.com president Kevin Belmonte, Philippines Yearbook chairman Grace Glory Go, SM Prime chairman Henry Sy Jr. and the author.

Her favorite LMH movie is Gangnam Blues, a 2015 South Korean action film set in the ‘70s against the backdrop of the real estate development of the Gangnam region of Seoul, amidst socio-political turmoil and terrorism.

“Lee Min Ho is such a versatile actor and he always eats up every role he gets,” says the star-struck Crystal.  “But this one, he really nailed his gangster look! So happy we got to see his hidden side in this movie.”

Why did she post her photo on the message board? Is it because the medium is the message?

“I actually posted a message and my grad photo, because I wanted to let him know that I just passed my MTLE and I also thought that I needed to get his attention. I know sobrang daming nakadikit na sticky notes and he’ll not see everything, so I did something extra to get his attention.”

And boy, did it work.


The tall, slim and friendly Lee Min Ho was in Manila last October as SMDC’s newest endorser. His visit coincided with SM’s 65th founding anniversary and the birth month of its founder Henry Sy Sr.

According to online sources, he is the most followed South Korean actor on social media and became the first Korean celebrity to have a wax figure made in his image at Madame Tussauds, with figures being unveiled in Shanghai in 2013, and Hong Kong in 2014. He reportedly earns $2.5 million from product endorsements alone.

During his extensive interview on the revolving stage of the MOA with Sam Oh, LMH, speaking through an interpreter (without having the interpreter first translate the questions from English to Korean), said he is a nature lover who favors sunset over sunrise, because the latter means he would need to wake up early. Sources say he wanted a room with a terrace and a view at the Conrad, where he was billeted.

SM Supermalls president Steven Tan and philstar. com’s RoseAnne Belmonte.

“I love the pool but I don’t swim,” he confessed. His idea of a luxury home is one where there are no crowds, “Just nature.”

He admits to Googling himself and the last time he did so was just before he came to the fan meet.

His favorite day is Sunday and in his entire life, he has never traveled solo. LMH, whose favorite dish should have meat in it, sometimes fasts “to keep my face slim,” he confessed with a laugh.

If he were to give advice on life, it would be this: “In life, there are different standards of success. Where I am, I am content. Wherever you are, find what makes you content.”

He goes home to something addicting: Choco, his pet pinscher.

But he also felt that going to the Philippines and its bevy of adoring fans “was like coming home.”

And that is crystal-clear to his fans!



You may e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.

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