Despite loss, Pacquiao still comes home to a hero’s welcome
No new welterweight belt, no problem.
Time and again, Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has proven why he is called the “People’s Champ.” He may have lost in the judges’ scorecards in the recent megabuck bout, but his homecoming just showed that he has won over the heart of a nation in constant need of heroes.
Pacquiao came home with a defeat and injured shoulder but that didn’t make the Filipinos love him any less.
In his homecoming motorcade this morning, the Pacman effect was as strong and as electrifying as ever. The warm welcome, as evident in the loud cheers of the beaming crowds, did not carry any trace of disappointment over the boxer’s loss to his pound-for-pound nemesis just ten days ago.
Even before 8 in the morning, the crowd of supporters were already thickening outside the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati where the motorcade kicked off from a breakfast reception. Despite an injured right shoulder being supported by a sling, the left-handed Pacquiao was still able to enjoy good food as he exchanged small talks and selfies with invited guests.
“Natutuwa ako na tayong lahat ay nagkaisa sa isang event para sa karangalan ng ating bansa. ‘Yan ang kaligayan ko eh,” Pacquiao said. “Ang kaligayan ko ay ‘yung napag-isa ko ang samabayang Pilipino.”
(“I am delighted that we are one in celebrating for the country’s pride. That is my joy. My joy is to unify the Filipino nation.”)
Led by a security convoy, the motorcade proper started at around 10 a.m. as it traversed Pasay Road, going to Makati Avenue and Ayala Avenue.
It was a welcome fitting for a hero, and not even the dominantly pro-Pacquiao and Mayweather-booing crowd in Las Vegas can compare to the screaming Filipino fans lined along the streets as they reached out to the boxing champion—most of whom were waving their hands, holding miniature Philippine flags, and flashing their mobile phones.
“We are here because we support Manny. Even if he lost, he is still the winner in the hearts of Filipinos,” said Corazon Florentino, 55, who went the Dusit Thani Hotel to see the boxing icon. “I hope he doesn’t change. We will always be here to support.”
Local residents and even government employees reportedly trooped out of their houses and offices to catch a glimpse of the all-smiles “Pambansang Kamao.”
Aboard the float designed with his photo and the text “Welcome Home Manny,” the singing Sarangani representative also handed out souvenirs such as T-shirts, posters, and copies of his album to the enthusiastic crowd.
Proving that the Pacman phenomenon is global, even non-Filipinos came to express their support for Pacquiao.
“Filipinos must be very proud that they have someone like Manny,” said the 35-year-old Sovian, an Iraqi who has been living in the Philippines for four years now.
The motorcade passed through Buendia at around 10:30 a.m., and reached Taft Avenue at around 11:00 a.m. It traversed Roxas Boulevard before arriving at the Rajah Sulayman Park in Manila, where Pacquiao met with Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for a short program.
As of posting, Pacquiao is resting at the Manila Hotel where he will stay for a few hours before paying a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino at Malacañang this afternoon. The wound in his right shoulder reportedly bled during the motorcade.
After losing to Mayweather and undergoing surgery in the United States, Pacquiao arrived in Manila from Los Angeles aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR103 at 3:46 a.m. on Wednesday. DPL