Star-studded Manny B-day bash and a nightmare
By Edwin G. Espejo
16 Dec 2008
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (December 16) – This city will get its taste of Las Vegas and slew of star-studded celebrities and political bigwigs when Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao celebrates his 30th birthday Wednesday in two separate venues.
Heading the list is no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who will proceed to Isulan, Sultan Kudarat the following day.
The president is reportedly staying overnight at the Guest House of the Alcantaras in Alabel, Sarangani.
Several cabinet officials are expected to join the president's entourage including Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano, a personal friend of Pacquiao.
Also reportedly arriving are boxing luminaries Bob Arum of Top Rank, promoter of Pacquiao, long time coach Freddie Roach and former opponents and knockout victims David Diaz and Marco Antonio Barrera. Once touted Pacquiao-challenger and sparring mate Edwin Valero is also allegedly coming.
Members of the foreign, national and local press are likewise expected to cover the biggest event to descend in this port city known all over the world as Tuna Capital and home of the boxing's newest superstar.
Of course, Manny's invited Filipino stars and celebrities are also invading General Santos to provide entertainment, glamour and glitz.
The KCC Mall Convention Center has undergone a massive facelift and, according to reports, people from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) are flying in some slot machines to lend the pompous birthday bash of Manny a taste of Las Vegas.
It would be no surprise if the long chorus line will suddenly surprise select invited guests.
It will be strictly formal at the gala night where 1,500 were already invited and some 500 more are asking to be invited and be seen at the scene.
For the city and organizers of the two events, Manny's celebrity and cult-like status is also proving to be a logistic as well as security nightmare.
Six calves and 25 pigs will be roasted for the occasion and ensuring every attendee and guest in both venues will have their full, especially at the oval Plaza is a daunting challenge for caterers, chefs and their staff.
The presidential menu at the KCC Mall is still a secret.
So far, according to General Santos City mayor Pedro Acharon Jr., the city has been spared the headaches of organizing the twinbills of a celebration.
He said the camp of Manny are covering the all the security and logistical details in coordination with the presidential management staff (PMS).
He said he was given assurance that the police will take care of providing security all throughout the city and while the VIPs and celebrities are here.
All luxury cars in the city have reportedly been mobilized, rented and borrowed for celebrities and VIPs.
Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez said he was still looking for 40 SUVs for the president's entourage Monday afternoon.
All hotels and inns in the city are already fully booked beginning today and finding a place to stay for out of town well wishers could be a challenge to one's ingenuity – like finding the manger on Christmas day.
The city's premier hotel, the East Asia Royal Hotel, has all its 105 rooms all blocked out, according to manager Romeo 'Rombar' Bartolome.
The city's police forces and the Army's Joint Task Force Gensan are going into full red alert and will have their hands tied up in securing the Oval Plaza where Manny will throw a party for thousands of residents and fans who can't and won't be invited at the more posh and formal dinner at the KCC Convention Center.
The Presidential Security Guard (PSG) has already taken over the security details at the KCC Convention Center, according to the police.
City police director Senior Supt. Robert Po said his concern now is how to provide security at the Oval Plaza where throng of many supporters and well wishers are expected to come in droves.
He said the last thing they would want is a stampede during the distribution of lunch packs.
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