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By Manny Piņol

Donaire Family To Nonito Jr. and Rachel: Please, Leave Us Alone!
01 Mar 2011

Davao City, The Philippines 5:30 a.m., March 1 - I hate to write about this issue of the Donaire Father and Son (plus the wife and in-laws) feud again because I feel that readers and listeners have had enough of this story that has turned into an ugly family soap opera where everybody will come out in tatters and badly bruised.

But contrary to the public pronouncement of the new unified bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. that he is open to a reconciliation with his father, there seems to be an orchestrated and well-planned effort to lift Junior out of the muck and clean his image at the expense of the honor of his father, mother and siblings.

Even respected journalists who are all my dear friends like Quinito Henson, Ronnie Nathanielsz, Recah Trinidad and his son, Chino, have all jumped in writing their own versions and interpretation of the issue.

To give everybody an accurate picture of how this thing started, let me admit that it was a column that I wrote on November 10, 2008 that brought this story to public attention. (

There were two more columns written in, and other media outlets about that on Nov. 14, 2008 and Feb. 9, 2009. After some minor fireworks, the issue died down and everybody was quiet.

It was rekindled when, in the build up towards his fight with Fernando Montiel, Nonito Junior made an ill-advised move of trying to project himself as another poor and hungry boy from General Santos City, just like Manny Pacquiao, on the threshold of boxing glory.

He told journalist Trish Dixon that he had to sell things just to be able to eat, how his older brother Glenn was more loved than him and how he was maltreated by his father, Nonito Sr.

It was the proverbial flicker that started a fire in an explosives factory. All hell broke loose after that.

It was Nonito Junior's mother, Imelda, who reacted. It was her first public reaction on the issue and she asked her son to stop peddling lies. "We were poor but we had enough for every child," she said adding that while the family was not rich, her salary as a teacher and Nonito Sr.'s job as an army soldier provided enough food on the table.

Following Nonito Junior's spectacular victory over Fernando Montiel, I expected the new champion to make the right move: show magnanimity by expressing apologies to his family for whatever he said that might have offended him. It should not have mattered if in his belief he was really wronged and maltreated.

That would have been a brilliant PR move in a Philippine milieu, especially for a boxing champion who wants Filipino boxing fans to believe that Nonito Donaire Jr. is also a Filipino. That would have been a PR coup.

What happened was the exact opposite. Riding on the glory of his boxing triumph, Nonito Donaire Jr., obviously implementing a plan designed by his wife, Rachel, viciously resumed his attack on the Donaire family, this time accusing Donaire Sr. of stealing $80,000 from the couple's account.

Nonito Jr.'s manager, Cameron Dunkin, joined the fray by validating the accusations against Nonito Sr. while other personalities were also engaged to continue the bashing on the older Donaire.

I felt sad and sick reading the stories against Nonito Sr. because he is another dear friend. And so today, I woke up early to give him a call to get his side, not to add fuel to this already raging fire, but to bring clarity and sanity to the situation. However, let me give readers a fair warning: I am a friend of Nonito Sr. But I will try my best to be objective.

There was a din of a running engine in the background when Nonito Donaire Sr. took my call at about 5:00 a.m. today (about 1 p.m. in California).

"Just a minute Gov. I will just park the forklift," he told me. Dodong Donaire who once served as an army soldier in my province North Cotabato still calls me Gov even when I am already out of politics. He is now back to his old job as a container welder and he drives a forklift moving heavy things around in the workplace in Concorde, California.

(Nonito Jr. was about 10 years old when Sr. left the Philippine Army and moved the family to the US after they applied for US citizenship because Nonito Sr.'s father was a US citizen.)

Nonito told me to call later after work so we could talk longer. Which I did and I am sharing with you excerpts of that conversation which was in Cebuano but which I am freely translating to English.

"What is this $80,000 that you allegedly stole from the couple?," I asked him.

The answer was sharp and firm: "If that is true, I will walk to the jail myself."

Manny Pinol's Question: What about Cameron Dunkin's statements?

Nonito Sr.'s Answer: "That's understandable. Would Cameron be willing to take the risk of losing a potential cash cow? His two champions are gone - Kelly Pavlik and Steven Luevano. He has a new champion Brandon Rios but Junjun has the potentials of becoming a great boxing champion and that would mean a lot of earnings for Cameron. Please tell Cameron that I feel bad about his statements but I understand his situation. I forgive him."

MPQ: What's that issue about you asking excessive share from your son's purse totalling 12% when the usual trainer's fee is only 10%?

NSA: "Yes, the usual trainer's fee is only 10% of the purse but I also acted as the cutman. And the cutman is entitled to 2% (Donaire Sr. is one of the best cutmen in the business and worked in the Michael Katsidis corner in several fights). Besides, if he did not like that, he should just have told me. Did he not even realize how much I sacrificed for him during his days as an amateur boxer when I had to abandon my job just to bring him to where he is now? Let us forget the fact that I am his father. Consider me just as a trainer and mentor. I worked on his career since the days when we were not even earning a single cent for the amateur fights. Now that he becomes a champion, would I not as his mentor and trainer deserve a fair share of what we sacrificed for together? Is it fair for him to just dump me after all these years? If he did not like the way I trained him and he wanted a new trainer, I would understand that. Maybe as a loving son, he could just have asked me to be the assistant trainer and cutman or maybe even the waterboy."

MPQ: What about the other woman?

NSA: "You know very well I did not hide that. My wife knew about it and has accepted it. We have separated but we remain friends. Junjun knew about it. In fact, before he became world champion he stayed with us and my girl friend (with whom Donaire Sr. has a young daughter) treated him very well. I am not a perfect person. I had my shortcomings and failures as a person and as a father but I don't think it is right for my son to paint a picture of me as evil. I am now staying in my wife's house with our children while working here in California. My girl friend is in Cebu City with our baby daughter."

MPQ: Quinito Henson's column said your wife, Imelda, started this issue again because she knew that Nonito Jr. was going to make a lot of money in his fight against Montiel. How do you respond to that?

NSA: "That is the most cruel thing my son could do to his mother, accuse her of being after his money. Did we decide to have children so that we could make money from them? My wife is one of the most gentle and forgiving persons I have known. I wronged her yet she forgave me. Junjun invited her to join them in the trip to Japan, now they accuse her of enjoying the free-ride? How can he, how could they, do this to my wife? This really hurts."

MPQ: What's your message to Nonito Jr. and his wife, Rachel?

NSA: "The person who speaks to the media now about the abuses he suffered as a young boy, the hunger that he went through, the discrimination and the hatred for his father, is not the Junjun that I knew. He is being manipulated by his wife because she is afraid that if we reconcile as a family, we will ask for a share of Junjun's money. Junjun, you know how much your mother loves you. I may have been an imperfect father but you know I love you. Your brothers and your sister love you. I am sorry if I may have been very strict as a father but I thought I was doing it for your good. If I hurt you in the past, please forgive me. I may have done it in my desire to see you succeed. If you are happy now with your new family, we will understand. We are not after your money. You can have it all. I am back to my work in the welding shop, you mother works as caregiver, your sister, Rochelle, has her own family, Glenn will make a comeback in boxing and Lucky works as physical therapist. We will survive. We grieve that this has happened to our family but we will accept this as a reality we have to face. Just do not hurt your mother anymore. Enjoy your life, savor your fame and good fortune. We will just pray for your success. But our family is begging you, give us peace by leaving us alone."

That is how things stand as of today, March 1, 2011 with the family begging the world champion and his wife to stop the vicious attack and to give them peace.

But it does not look like this issue will die down quick.

Rachel Donaire, still smarting from what she believes was a deliberate attempt to distract Nonito Jr., from his training prior to the Montiel fight is crying for blood, even going to the extent of personally conducting a video interview with former world champion Morris East to prove the claim that Nonito Sr. stole money from his son.

As to how long can Nonito Sr. and the Donaire family take the punishment, nobody knows.

This earthquake which is shaking the boxing world could still have powerful and very destructive aftershocks.


Top photo: The Donaires during happier days.

Click here for a complete listing of columns by this author.

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