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In This Corner

By Salven L. Lagumbay

21 Nov 2008

Manny and Jinkee.

LOS ANGELES--For RMN-DyHP/SunStar Superbalita mediaman Edward Ligas, who is in the US for the first time to cover Manny Pacquiao's December 6 fight, Pacman and his wife Jinkee are a class all their own.

This is an observation shared by editor Salven Lagumbay and founder Dong Secuya, who accompanied Ligas for his first American coverage.

"Manny is a truly caring and heroic individual. He is an icon of our times, someone who comes to our midst only one in every hundred years," opines Ligas, who got the surprise of his life when, upon his first time to set foot at the Wild Card Gym, he was warmly greeted by Pacquiao when the Filipino icon saw him inside Freddie Roach's sweatshop.

Personally, I think Pacquiao has grown from being a mere world champion into an icon of epic proportion, and somebody who is very capable of becoming the greatest boxer of all times. If that sounds sacrilegeous, especially to those who love Muhammad Ali to death, then let that be. I, too, am a lifetime Ali fan, and will forever cherish what he has done to the sport and to humanity. But Pacquiao is probably the only living fighter who has a reasonable chance at beating Ali to the finish line.

If Pacquiao successfully defeats the legendary Oscar De la Hoya on December 6, a task that will be all too Herculean, Pacquiao steps within striking distance to that "Greatest" title. The task ahead won't be easy though, as Pacquiao himself concedes. De la Hoya is a true living legend, a fighter in the strictest sense of the word. However, Pacman has made sure he does his every share of the preparation, and come what may, don't shed a tear for the Pacman. He'll go into the fight at peace with himself, knowing that he has done his share of the hard work, and only God knows what's in store for him inside that ring.

Pacquiao is a true peoples' champion.

When visited him at the Wild Card Gym on Wednesday, Pacquiao has remained our friend, despite several months of not seeing us. We were just one of the faces in the crowd, but Pacquiao went out of his way to greet us.

"Kanus-a mo naabot? Kumusta?" (When did you arrive? How are you?), Pacquiao would greet us, while at the same time hitting those speed bags inside Wild Card Gym.

Of course, that was the complete opposite of several of our experience in the past, where we would go out of our way to visit a fighter in a gym located in a foreign land, and once we step into the gym, still dazed by the jetlag, we don't even get a simple 'hi' or a handshake. We don't need to be pampered, but we know how it feels to be treated like you belong.

Today, during Pacquiao's sparring at the Wild Card gym, wife Jinkee came in accompanied by his sister Janet and two male companions. Jinkee, who is due to give birth in December to their fourth child, is just as warm and nice as the Pacman.

She would address us by our first name, and would ask us how we are. She would also ask us where we are staying, genuinely concerned knowing we are not from this place. And of course, she's always there to chat us up into feeling like we belong, while at the same time making sure she keeps herself to the sidelines.

To Manny and Jinkee, you're a class all your own. May you continue to be blessed as you are, and here's wishing you the best come December 6.

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