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List of Articles by Ronnie Nathanielsz


 

PACQUIAO RECEIVES FANTASTIC WELCOME

By Ronnie Nathanielsz
PhilBoxing.com
25 Nov 2006

Celebrated ring warrior Manny Pacquiao, the country’s certified national treasure, has received a fantastic welcome as hundreds of thousands of Manila residents poured out of their homes and lined the route of a massive motorcade that crawled along city streets yesterday. Millions were glued to their television sets and listened in on radio for continuing coverage of the unprecedented welcome for the ring idol which dwarfed previous welcomes for Filipino sports heroes and past winners of international beauty pageants such as Miss Universe and Miss International.

The welcome reinforced the contention of the international media that Pacquiao is by far the most popular personality in the Philippines today and could run for any public office and win.

Pacquiao who arrived aboard a Philippine Airlines flight in the early morning hours accompanied by his charming wife Jinkee, boyhood friend and trainer Restituto "Buboy" Fernandez and other members of his entourage proceeded to the Manila Hotel for a brief rest and breakfast before being driven by Congressman Miles Roces to the Church of the Black Nazarene in downtown Manila.

Thousands who had waited even before the crack of dawn to get a glimpse of their hero packed the church while thousands more jostled outside for a vantage point.

Pacquiao, whose virtues were extolled at a Mass celebrated by Msgr. Joseph Ramirez received thunderous applause from the crowd in a display of both admiration and affection for the 27 year old native of General Santos City whose fists of fury have elevated him to a sporting pedestal.

Pacquiao and his party were then driven to Manila City Hall where he, as always, received a typical welcome with another huge crowd of employees and onlookers who waved Philippine flags, banners saluting the sports icon as a band played and confetti rained down.

Pacquiao was at his elements in a news conference at City Hall where he sat alongside Mayor Lito Atienza who has been a staunch supporter through the years and his son Ali Atienza, a former Asian taekwondo champion who is almost certain to run
for Mayor of Manila and is reportedly wooing Pacquiao to be his running mate. A totally relaxed and ever-smiling Pacquiao fielded questions with aplomb and occasional wit but declined to answer questions about the legal battle over his services after he signed contracts with both Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank.

Pacquiao was later welcomed at Malacanang by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who has, through the years shown her care and concern for Pacquiao even before he became a boxing superstar and before she became president. Pacquiao used to visit the Arroyo home being a friend of her actor-son Congressman Mikey Arroyo with whom Pacquiao starred in movies. Also present at the brief ceremony in from of Malacanang’s Kalayaan Hall was a beaming vice president Noli de Castro.

Pacquiao then began a motorcade that snaked through city streets for hours as crowds surged forward at every turn to try to touch their idol and scream his name in a frenzied outpouring of adulation for the sheer magnificence of his performance against legendary Mexican Erik "El Terrible" Morales whom he annihilated in three rounds last Sunday.

The massive crowds at Moriones Street in Tondo caused the convoy of vehicles to grind to a halt and in the end after several hours an elated but tired Pacquiao skipped the last part of the planned motorcade route and returned to the Manila Hotel for a much-needed rest. A huge crowd that had waited since early morning in the vicinity of the Manila Zoo where the motorcade was supposed to end were disappointed but vowed to return for a Baywalk street party later in the evening. At the San Andres Sports Center where a brand new boxing gym was to be inaugurated by Pacquiao who was to be honored by the center being re-named as a tribute to him also left disappointed but promised to return when the gym is inaugurated in the near future.

Later in the evening Pacquiao, after a rest from a hectic day following a long flight from Los Angeles, was to be the guest of honor at a sparkling, star-studded street party staged by Solar Sports in cooperation with the City of Manila at the Rajah Sulayman Park along Roxas Boulevard where a monument will soon rise in another touching tribute to Pacquiao who is today regarded as the greatest Filipino fighter of all-time.


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