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In Huddle

Coffee with Manny

By Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Wary that his group might again be trapped in Baguio by Typhoon Ramil, trainer Freddie Roach instructed Team Pacquiao to get ready to motor down to Manila last week.

The group was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles, California, for the final phase of Pacquiao?s training last weekend and Roach wanted to make sure his timetable would not be disrupted.

In the aftermath of storms Ondoy and Pepeng, roads going to and from Baguio were rendered impassable, leaving several people stranded there.

Roach?s orders were for everything to be packed and everybody to be dressed first thing the following morning. He then turned to bed and slept soundly.

* * *

The first thing Roach did when he woke up the following day was to make the rounds of the main suites in the hotel occupied by Manny?s team.

To his horror and fury, the bags and other boxing stuff were still not packed and Manny was not in his room. He dashed out to search for the champion.

He found Manny having coffee with a VIP guest in one of the hotel?s food and beverage outlet. This coffee scene was documented by HBO for airing in the 24/7 show Sunday.

Manny?s VIP guest, who is a presidential candidate, was shown on video but to hide his identity, his face was blurred out.

His orange colored shirt, however, was a dead giveaway. Some televiewers said he is the presidentiable whose last name sounds like an indoor game that has produced many Filipino world champions.

Manny just flashed the smile of a child who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

* * *

?I quit!? Did Roach pronounce this in jest or were the bulging veins in his reddened face telltale signs of how exactly he felt at that moment?

Manny once said that Roach is like a father who loves him very much.

Although he has been naughty and mischievous, Roach has always forgiven him.

* * *

It was not established in the TV footage of 24/7 exactly when Team Pacquiao was finally able to leave for Manila.

One thing sure though, the group made it to Los Angeles on schedule. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was there waiting.

Incidentally, a colleague marvels at the energy and endurance of the jet-setting Arum who is in his late 70?s.

The scribe said Arum has only been to Baguio recently, and now he?s in Los Angeles to welcome Team Pacquiao.

Arum was one of the first to set foot in the newly-built Araneta Coliseum in 1975 for perhaps the grandest sporting event ever staged here in Manila: The Thrilla in Manila.

My scribe friend said Arum was personally entertained by the Marcoses, who were at the time in power.

The friendship has lasted, the scribe said. Arum and Ms Imelda Marcos still meet for dinner every now and then.

Arum, he said, is a big fan of Imelda.

The fight between Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto is scheduled on Nov. 15, Manila time. It will be aired live in chosen cinemas by Solar Entertainment.

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