They first met in “Radio Romance”, fell in love during “Mahal Kita”, became officially “on” in “Mula Sa Puso”, and now, with “Got 2 Believe”, prove that rule love between two showbiz personalities can work – and last. Rico Yan much to be thankful for these days. The matinee idol is an endorser of various products because of his good image. He is part of “Whattamen” which has a successful and high-rating sitcom and noontime show. Lastly, but most importantly, he is the envy of men, for he has captured the heart of the drama princess, the dreamgirl of many, Claudine Barretto. “I met her in ‘Radio Romance’, first shooting day of my first movie. Nagsisimula pa lang ako (I was just starting), and that time Claudine Barretto was already Claudine Barretto, nakaka-intimidate (very intimidating). Imagine, ‘Radio Romance’ was my first movie and I was already paired with Claudine.” He was definitely attracted to her – but initially on the physical level. “I said to myself, ah maganda (beautiful), very petite, very cute, very cuddly, very huggable.” Then he got to know her. “Personality-wise, I knew her as a very intimidating female star. Very strong. Very bullheaded – she’s a bullish woman. Kung mali, mali; kung tama, tama. (If it’s wrong, it’s wrong; if it’s right, it’s right.) But then may (she also has the) opposite side yung pagiging (of her being) stubborn niya – yung pagiging malambing (is her being loving & caring), sweet, thoughtful, pagiging maaasikaso (for her being very attentive). Innate na yun kay Claudine, parang naguluhan ako kasi first time lang ako nakakilala ng babaeng ganoon ka-extreme.(It’s innate to Claudine to be like that. I was so confused. It was my first time to meet somebody who has personalities to the extreme–extremely differentéopposite”)” But the star-struck Rico didn’t court Claudine right away. Claudine was in a relationship with somebody else, and so was he. It was during the shooting of ‘Dahil Mahal Na Mahal Kita’ that it dawned on Rico that, “I was single for two years, and then parang (it seems like) I realized na siguro (then maybe) it’s time na to look for a girlfriend. I know you don’t really look for these something missing in my life, and that was to love someone – that was lacking.” And so it happened. “Na-develop na lang, kasi prior to that, lagi naman kaming nagkikita, wala naman. (It started to develop, and prior to that, we were seeing each other more frequently, and I feel nothing) It was only when I stopped to think about what I lack in my life that I began to take notice of her, not as a co-worker, but as a person. She’s very attractive, she’s very nice, maybe she can be my girlfriend. Ganoon na ang pag-iisip ko.” (That was I had been thinking”). Since they regularly see each other at work, Rico just became more thoughtful, until one day… “I said, ‘Can I ask you out?’ out of the blue, and she said yes. We went out, nag-take out kami ng food (we had ordered take out) and we ate it at her place, and that’s it, that started everything.” The relationship is full of magic, surprises, difficulties, and dedication. “It has its magical moments definitely, and of course there are trying times. There are a lot of storms we have to weather, but it’s normal.” Rico finds a relationship between two celebrities more difficult because the public is part of it; the press is part of it; the entire showbiz industry is part of it! Hence, the need for a “demarcation line”: between Rico-Claudine as stars, and Rico-Claudine as boyfriend-girlfriend. There is conscious effort to make sure issues regarding work do not affect them as a couple – and issues regarding their lovelife does not affect work. Rico loves surprising Claudine. He looks forward to finding new ways of making her laugh or smile during unguarded moments… For example, when he goes out of town, sometimes, he goes regular route and buys pasalubong (something, a surprise, to bring home) for her. But sometimes, he does the unique and unexpected, like, send her a telegram from where he is! “It doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rico. But sometimes, expensive presents can be nice too. Rico relates: “She had this small TV in her very large bedroom. So I decided to give her a bigger TV. I talked to a friend of hers and she did mentions to him that she wanted this particular TV but it’s a bit pricy. So I got that for her and while she was out, I set it up. When she entered the room, there’s the big TV and a birthday card on it.” Rico and Claudine take very good care of each other. She loves to cook for him; pasta is a specialty. And unlike most boyfriends, he also cooks for her-chicken soup, usually, when she is sick. Sweet,’no? But for a couple which has lasted all these years, Rico half jokingly says that there’s still something missing: “If there’s one frustration in our relationship is the fact that we don’t have a song. I am not the mushy type.” Claudine has songs she associates with Rico and Rico has songs he associates with Claudine, like Angel, and Bryan McKnight’s Win. But the couple does not have A THEME SONG. “Maybe if we have a theme song, it would have to be Misty. (The song that begins with the lyrics: Look at me/ I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree.) My parents used to sing that song to me all the time when I was young. Once, when Claudine and I were out of town, I set up a beach dinner with a guitarist and a singer. I ended up singing Misty to her, because I know the lyrics.” So all these years, how does the boyfriend see his girlfriend? “Claudine is one of those women who really go out of her way to make her loved one happy. She is very selfless person – siguro to a fault na; there are times she neglect herself already. “If the dictionary had a word for ‘perfect wife’ and you need an example, I’ll put Claudine Barretto. At the end of a long hard day, when I am really tired, I pass by her place before going home. When I get there, I have my cup of coffee ready; I have a DVD ready to watch and she’s gonna give an aromatherapy treatment (she lights scented candles) and stuff like that. She’s gonna make sure that before I go home, I’m rested and relaxed and calmed. She’ll do anything, she’ll pamper me – that’s what I love.” Rico also declares that Claudine has changed him for the better. “I am maturing to a more responsible person, more dedication towards work, more dedication towards family, more dedication towards love. I became more artistic, more authoritative. Kasi before I could not live with confidence, but now, I can say I do because that’s what I learned from her. She also taught me too become expressive with my emotions.” Last loving words” “I think the relationship is one in a billion.”
On the end notes to the song ‘Misty’, Claudine claimed that Rico had actually underwent 2 days of voice lessons to prepare himself in singing the song ‘Misty’ to her on her special day (birthday) with guitar and violin (and hired musicians). She was so touched and she ended up crying.