Manny the Man Pacquiao

Posted on May 2, 2010. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , |

1000 of My Closest Filipino Friends

1000 of My Closest Filipino Friends

Filipinos love their boxing, and with good reason, Manny Pacquiao. I have watched him on PPV a few times. Whenever he is fighting we have many friends get together here in Missouri and watch the fights. We have a great small community of Filipino friends here and they love to have a good time!

This is a little story about one time I got to see Manny fight under different circumstances!

The fight is today! Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton!

Sunday morning, warm and humid. Sun is shining, breakfast is ready. Fresh whole fish frying in the skillet, rice and eggs cooking in the kitchen. Steaming Pandesal waiting to be enjoyed on the table. It is 7:00 a.m. A wonderful start to an exciting day! The family is gathered in the kitchen, Nanay (Mother) is attending to the meal while neighbor children, friends and family are eating and eagerly awaiting the day’s event. The Manny Pacquiao fight!

It is definitely not just another day. Everyone is poised to go to the town square basketball court where they will be showing the event. Churches will be showing the match. In the Philippines this is no ordinary day! Manny Pacquiao is the country’s hero! The pride of the Philippines! He will go up against Ricky Hatton from Las Vegas today! Almost every town has a basketball court in the Philippines and Pavia is no exception. It is an arena free of charge where the locals come and play everyday to enjoy the most popular sport. Clad in shorts, shirts optional and flip-flops local groups compete for glory on the concrete arena to secure immortality among friends and relatives.

We arrive at about 9:00 a.m. to the arena and take our place on the concrete bleachers. It is Fiesta week in Pavia so there are still the local floats from the town sitting idle from the previous days festivities. The court is completely covered with full metal roof and chain link fencing surrounds the place. I notice a small projection machine in the center to broadcast the fight. A large screen has been procured by the town to watch the fight. As we are watching the pre-fight commentaries I notice that the picture is not very clear due to the sunlight. Soon young men begin to take woven mats and secure them to the fence areas to darken the small stadium. What great ingenuity! By the time they get done the picture is very clear!

The bleachers fill, and plastic chairs are placed on the floor, you know the kind you would by at Wal-Mart that you might set out for company in the back yard. These stackable chairs are a staple in the Philippines. Soon I am the only Caucasian in the place with 1000 of my closest Filipino friends! The expectant mood was palpable, the crowd was excited. Various vendors were making their way through the crowd selling items from small towels to wipe the sweat from your face to peanuts and snack food items. It was definitely a community event!

We all watched the preliminary fights with some interest. The real electricity was being reserved for the main event! When Manny was announced and made his march to the ring, sonic waves of emotion ricocheted through the gathering that could only be described as Filipino National hopes and dreams mixed with a little Pentecostal revival! Filipinos are very proud of their country, but they don’t get the lime light the way other countries do. This fight and Manny himself are one way to get a little respect from the rest of the world.

I won’t giver you the color commentary on the fight (you just had to be there). Suffice to say he won with typical Manny style! At one point he punched so hard that Ricky Hatton slid about 6 feet on the ground after being knocked down.

What I took away from this is the richness of the cultural fiber of the Philippines! It’s difficult to put into words, but here in America we don’t have the sense of community that they do there. I know we are a great nation but there is something missing. We have become the great melting pot of the world it’s true, however in the process we have lost our cultural roots! The memory of that day will live with me forever. Just to witness the smiles on the faces and the fists in the air! The collective shouts of victory filled the air and I was indeed blessed to be a part of it. Oh, Yeah! The fresh Mango shakes were not too bad either!

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