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Manny Pacquiao’s millions; Luisito Espinosa’s lost purse

/ 11:21 AM January 21, 2012

COLMA, California—In this tiny town where the dead outnumber the living, it seems like the only place alive is a casino on Hillside Boulevard.

Lucky Chances Casino also happens to be the first Filipino-owned gambling establishment in the United States. The proprietor, self-made millionaire Rene Medina, hails from Arayat, Pampanga.

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The casino is across a huge Jewish cemetery—among the 17 or so memorial parks in a 2.2 square-mile community founded as a necropolis in the roaring 20s. That was when San Francisco to the north, then in the midst of a land boom, banned human burial grounds within city limits.

Colma’s population underground of over a million, outnumbers above-ground residents of about 1,800, according to the 2010 US census. Among those buried here—baseball great Joe DiMaggio, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, jeans magnate Levi Strauss and Wild West lawman Wyatt Earp.

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After a city tour of San Francisco we haven’t done in years, my wife and I spent the night in the Filipino enclave of Daly City, Colma’s northern peninsular neighbor. The next morning, we drove to the Lucky Chances café frequented by
Filipinos for its hearty $8.95 tapsilog. The plan was to see an old friend for a chat and a quick breakfast.

But Luisito Espinosa was off from work that day, scuttling our desire to catch up with the guy called “Lindol” in the ring. His career effectively over, Luisito works both as Medina’s goodwill ambassador to casino goers aware of his boxing past, and a carpet cleaner at the casino.

Espinosa was the Manny Pacquiao of yesterday. Filipino pride was bottomless when he ruled both the world bantamweight and featherweight boxing classes.

But Luisito fell on hard times as a result of domestic turmoil and managerial missteps. Even a $150,000 prize from a world featherweight championship bout Espinosa won against Argentina’s Carlos Rios 15 years ago is still owed him by absconding, shameless promoters.

Luisito’s lost purse comes to mind again amid news of million-dollar deals involving Pacquiao and Filipino descendant Tim Lincecum.

It’s been widely reported that Manny wants $28 million guaranteed to face Juan Manuel Marquez again. If Manny’s fourth fight versus a dangerous guy happens and goes the distance again, that’s roughly $2.3 million per round for the Pacman, the highest paid Filipino athlete. Manny’s take would be mind-blowing for an abbreviated bout.

Meanwhile, Lincecum wants to be paid $21.5 million to throw a baseball for the San Francisco Giants next season. The Giants management said that it felt $17 million was more than a fair figure for the two-time Cy Young Award winner for a year.

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Lincecum, a member of the Asis family of immigrants from Mindanao, made $13 million in 2011. Tim’s money pitch shatters the figures requested by Derek Jeter ($18.5 million) and the New York Yankees ($14.25 million) in 2001.

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Some of our media friends in Baguio City are leading the fight to oppose SM City Baguio’s plan to remove about 200 pine trees on Luneta Hill for a seven-story parking structure. Is the removal of the trees fait accompli long before a huge public protest this week? There’s a quote from naturalist John Muir about his dislike for those who uproot trees without rhyme or reason: “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

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TAGS: Boxing, Luisito Espinosa, Manny Pacquiao, Sports
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