[PHOTO AT LEFT: NO. 1 FAN? President Arroyo welcomes F4 boyband leader and ‘Meteor Garden’ star Jerry Yan at Malacañang yesterday. Looking on are First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and Ben Chan, president of Bench of which Yan is an endorser. - Revoli Cortez ]

MANILA, November 7, 2003  (STAR) Amid heavy security and in the pouring rain, he arrived and made his courtesy call on President Arroyo.

Jerry Yan, leader of the Taiwanese boyband F4 and star of the hit Chinovela "Meteor Garden," is in Manila as the newest model of the signature clothing line Bench owned by Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur Ben Chan.

Yan is also scheduled to perform at a concert at the Fort in Makati City. He plays the role of Dao Ming Zhu in "Meteor Garden."

Yan called on the President yesterday afternoon, a visit that Yan had requested through the office of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Accompanied by his manager Cheng Xua and Chan, Yan paid his courtesy call on the President at the Malacañang Music Room, with the First Gentleman and their granddaughter Mikaela Gloria in attendance. Mikaela celebrates her first birthday on Sunday.

Gina de Venecia, wife of Speaker Jose de Venecia, was among the F4 fans who greeted Yan at the Palace. Her son, Philip, is also a Bench model and he and Yan will launch the latest line of Bench clothing for men today. Yan returns to Taipei on Saturday.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye joined other Palace officials in welcoming Yan and even carried an enlarged photo of the "Meteor Garden" star. Bunye said his secretary asked him to get Yan’s autograph for her.

The First Gentleman had also arranged for Yan to meet cancer-stricken children under the care of beauty expert Ricky Reyes’ newly inaugurated halfway house for indigent cancer victims supported by the Office of the First Gentleman and other charities.

"That is their dying wish, to speak with, to see (Yan) in person," Mr. Arroyo said. Orphans from the Asilo, Caritas and Silong Tanglaw foundations were also given the opportunity to meet their idol in person.

As Yan was cheering up his young fans, Palace protocol officer Menchie Dulay rehearsed photo opportunities for those who wanted to have pictures taken with Yan and organized photo sessions in batches.

"Don’t lose yourselves," Dulay advised Yan’s fans. "Remember, Dao Ming Zhu will be with President Arroyo for the photo op."

Not even the tight security provided by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) deterred Yan’s fans from pressing in closer to catch glimpses, handshakes and autographs from him for their posters and photos.

The President gamely posed with Yan and his fans for 10 minutes before her close-in security detail had to get her out of what became an unruly, star-struck crowd.

The rowdiness of the crowd prompted Yan’s security detail to whisk him into the adjacent State Dining Room, even as Palace staffers elbowed the President out of their way in their desire to reach Yan.

It took a request from the First Gentleman to persuade Yan to come out and resume the organized photo opportunity. Yan obliged for another 10 minutes before he left the Palace through the connecting doors of the State Dining Room.

Earlier, Yan was welcomed with screams of delight as 200 mostly female fans greeted him as he walked down the movable staircase beside the Philippine Airlines (PAL) plane that brought him to Manila from Taipei, Taiwan.

Yan was wearing a white t-shirt, gray jacket, blue jeans, a visor and sunglasses.

Only Gate 1 of the NAIA was opened to tighten security and two Caucasian security consultants hired by Bench checked the area an hour before Yan’s arrival. The security men wore green suits, neckties and heavily tinted sunglasses.

Several local police armed with handguns and in police vehicles were also seen securing the area. Private security personnel from the Lantin Security and Watchman Agency (LSWA) took part in the security preparations for Yan’s arrival.

On hand to greet Yan at the parking lot of NAIA’s Bay 18 between the NAIA Terminal 2 and the International Container Terminal (ICT) were: Chan, Bench representatives and models, PAL executive Fred Tan, Manila International Airport Authority assistant general manager for security and emergency services Gen. Angel Atutubo, airport personnel, representatives of the Bureau of Customs, and journalists.

Immediately after a photo opportunity, the crowd of well-wishers was dispersed and Yan gave no arrival statement.

Yan was surrounded by a cordon sanitaire of security personnel provided by Bench, who escorted him to a nearby sports utility vehicle (SUV) that brought him to a private helicopter owned by Bench parked just a few meters from his plane.

The helicopter, an Equiril 355 F2 with tail number RP-CI802, flew Yan to Malacañang for his audience with the President. — Marichu Villanueva, Sandy Araneta

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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