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By Homer D. Sayson

L..A Diaries: Pacquiao fever boiling in the City of Angels (PHOTOS)
Wed, 01 Apr 2015

LOS ANGELES -- As the sun sets on a lazy Monday afternoon, the crowd swells outside the Wild Card gym, the now famous sweat shop that sits in the belly of a nondesdcript strip mall along 1123 Vine street.

They came with cameras and boxing paraphernelia on hand. And with the patience of a determined stalker, fans and autograph-seekers waited for Manny Pacquiao to emerge.

I was among the weary faces in the thick congregation. For three hours or so, I was Captain Ahab and Manny Pacquiao was my white whale, my Moby Dick.

Busy covering the NBA, I haven't seen Manny for some time. But that quickly changed, thanks to journalists Eddie Alinea and Aquiles Z. Zonio. Because of these distinguished gentlemen's pull and assistance not only was I able to reacquaint with Manny, I actually spent nearly three hours in his newly-bought mansion in a tony section of this fabulous city of stars.

Top photo: The author visits with Manny at the fighter's swanky mansion.

A huge crowd greet Pacquiao outside the Wildcard Gym.

"Mer, kumusta na?" Manny said effusively as he eased his well-conditioned frame towards me. We shook hands, firmly, and bridged the missing years through conversations that flowed with the easy comfort of old friends.

We talked about all things basketball, his thoughts on the NBA Finals, his favorite NBA players, the state of the Chicago Bulls, etc. That interview will exclusively see print in a few days at my regular column at Philipines.

"Can you stay for dinner?" Manny asked while resting his right hand on my burderned shoulders. I tried to be polite and leave him alone with his family, but deep inside I yelled, "Yes!!!,

Prepared by a small army of cooks, the food was beyond restaurant quality. It was so good that everytime a plate full of meats was passed over to me I reluctantly gave it back.

I was invited to observe Manny's training and perhaps jog with him at the UCLA tracks early the following morning. but I politely declined. With my baggage and unwanted fat I was afraid I would rudely interrupt the champ's rigid routine by dropping dead.

It was past 9 pm when Manny excused himself for the evening and headed to the flight of stairs leading to the private bedrooms where his lovely wife Jinky and their children were waiting.

Since I didn't have a car rental yet, Mr. Zonio dispatched a Nissan Armada that took me and fellow PhilBoxing writer Anthony Rozic to our near downtown hotel.

Day 1 in L.A. is in the books. Can't wait to flip the next page of this boxing-basketball road trip.

Good-Ha Restaurant in L.A.

SHORT JABS -- Tucked neatly in the corner of a mini malll of small businesses along 3324 W. street here in L.A. is a culinary paradise disguised as a fastfood restaurant. It's name is Good-Ha Express and its owned and operated by a lovely Filipino couple, Edwin and Angel Callanta.

I went there for early lunch and was blown away by the kawali and grilled chicken. I also tried the beef steak, the chicken curry and I nearly drowned in the soupy splendor of the bulalo. And most importantly, the prices were unbelievably low.

Everytime I come back here to cover the NBA or boxing, Good-Ha Express will be in the itinerary.

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

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