GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—A hero’s welcome awaits this city’s favorite son, boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, when he comes home to General Santos City this week despite his devastating defeat to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.
Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said the city government is preparing a hero’s welcome for eight-division boxing champ Pacquiao despite his shocking loss to Marquez by knockout on the 6th round of their fourth battle in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday noon in Manila).
Supporters and critics alike viewed Pacquiao’s defeat as “God’s will.”
They noted that Pacquiao, since his victory against Marquez during their third bout, was no longer attending Catholic Mass. Gone, too, was the vintage Holy Rosary he wore around his neck before and after every fight. He also no longer makes the sign of the cross before the fight and every start of the round.
Pacquiao since then has joined a Bible-based religious group called “Christians.”
“Despite what had happened (defeat), Manny Pacquiao remains our champion. He has done great sacrifices for this country and brought honor to Filipino people for several times. Let’s not forget what he has done,” Custodio said.
Custodio belongs to the opposite side of the political fence. She trounced Pacquiao during the 2007 congressional race in the South Cotabato 1st district.
Shortly after his loss to Custodio, Pacquiao transferred his voter’s registration to Kiamba town, Sarangani, where he won as congressman in the 2010 elections against a billionaire scion of the Chiongbian dynasty.
Pacquiao is running unopposed in next year’s election.
He has fielded his younger brother Rogelio Pacquiao as congressional candidate for South Cotabato 1st district against Custodio’s running mate, incumbent Rep. Pedro B. Acharon Jr.
The boxer-lawmaker also threw his support behind Ronnel Rivera, son of a fishing magnate, who is running against Custodio next year.
Custodio, however, is not taking it personally against Pacquiao.
“Manny Pacquiao deserves a hero’s welcome. We are preparing for it. But of course, we are coordinating with his people in Sarangani because they are his constituents,” Custodio said.