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List of Articles by Ed de la Vega, DDS


 

Mandirigma - The Quiet Warrior

By Ed de la Vega, DDS
PhilBoxing.com
29 Dec 2018



When the great Filipino boxing legend trains for his fights, one of the regimens that he likes to do is run early in the morning.

He runs around the streets close to his house in Makati or vicinities around. He runs the hills of Saranggani and the flat lands at the Pan Pacific Park in West Hollywood and the steep roads leading to the Griffith Park Observatory or the famed Hollywood Sign atop Mt. Hollywood in Los Angeles.

In the previous years when the Legend runs, one most conspicuously seen keeping up with him is Pacman the dog, a brown and white Jack Russell Terrier.

The four-legged friend was at one time tagged as the “secret weapon” of Manny Pacquiao. Pacman the dog was pampered as he had a role to play during training, besides of course sneering and playfully attacking some of the guests that commonly populate the place wherever Pacquiao keeps residence while training, be it at his old hangout at the Palazzo Condos near the famed Farmer’s Market in West Hollywood or lately at the Mansion in the old Los Angeles Hancock Park. The dog has legal papers and he travels with Pacquiao to the US to be part of the training regimen.

But father time finally caught up with poor little pampered doggie. He is now about 13 years old and in terms of dog age, that is really old.

With the dog gone, people seemed to have lost focus on photos of Pacquiao running up the Hollywood Hills. Suddenly, it was just a routine.

But if one would focus on all the different photos of Pacquiao conquering the hills in Saranggani or Mount Hollywood, one face is often seen albeit not as conspicuous as one would like to be seen, running with Pacquiao because he oftentimes wears a hoodie.


Pacquiao and his running buddy, Mandirigma.

He is the only one that can consistently keep up with Pacquiao and eventually got to be his favorite running partner.

That quiet young man is AJ Angeles AKA Mandirigma. Contrary to a lot of the so-called “Pacquiao Boys” who mostly speak Visayan and Tagalog, Mandirigma was born and raised at Angeles City in the gorgeous province of Pampanga.

Mandirigma once worked for the US Postal Service. But that’s not how he fell in love with the outdoors.

This quiet and unassuming young man did not know Manny Pacquiao from Adam. One day he happened to be at the Bahay Kubo, a popular spot for Filipinos in LA. Pacquiao was there as well. Seemingly attracted by the crowd, he mustered enough courage to approach the Legend and sought an autograph. Of course, Pacquiao readily and wholeheartedly complied. After all that is one of his main assets- he loves his fans.

Mandirigma at that moment decided to find more about Pacquiao. And, the more he did, the more he liked what he found.

In fact he said: “Before the advent of the Pacquiao name in the USA, Filipinos were just folks in the community - just one of the groups of minorities in the sea of immigrants in the Southern California.”

“But when the Pacquiao name slowly and surely rose to fame, he carried the word 'Filipino' everywhere. Suddenly Filipinos where no longer just sitting in the back burner. We got to be known well at least in the boxing world,” Mandirigma told this writer.

So in his own way to show his gratitude to Pacquiao, he decided to slowly insert himself with the Pacquiao crowd, something that was not too easy to do.

Mandirigma started running with Pacquiao when the Legend was training for the Ricky Hatton fight. But he only did it sporadically. “It wasn’t easy to keep up with him. He was in great condition and was on top of his career.” But with enough training and dedication, Mandirigma eventually got in top shape to keep up with the Legend.

When Pacquiao started training for Miguel Cotto, Mandirigma made it a full time job to run with him anywhere Pacquiao run. To date, he still runs with the Legend.

Mandirigma, unlike certain folks associated with the Pacquiao name, is different. He does not crave the attention most coveted. He just simply does his job. He runs and when that is done he stays behind the scene savoring his accomplishments for the day quietly to himself.

In fact, the only thing he has done to get some “benefits” from his work was to ask Pacquiao for permission to market some t-shirts and hoodies that carry his brand name Mandirigma Clothing Co. and bears the name “MP Training-Team Pacquiao”. It’s not a huge enterprise. He mostly catered to friends and close associates of Pacquiao who hang out at the training sites.


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