Manny Pacquiao Foundation: Boxing plus chess equals philanthropy…why not
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Wed, 04 Aug 2021
August 3, 2021
San Leandro, California
It didn’t take long for Mr. Robert Lyons to accept an invitation to be a part of the Manny Pacquiao Foundation. Bob, a leader in the corporate world as the CEO of Starflite, Inc., was quick to say that this interview was not about him but should focus on a worthy and humanitarian cause started by the president of the Manny Pacquiao Foundation.
With a subtle shift in his tone, the man who met and exceeded the aviation requirements of NBA legends like Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and the late Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers softly spoke about his business philosophy that runs parallel to the Pacquiao family’s mission to help others in need.
“I grew up in and around the mean streets of Chicago. Just last week, there was another senseless shooting resulting in tragedy. If there was an organization than can help give the youth an alternative to gang violence and drug use it would be the Manny Pacquiao Foundation. Fellow board of directors members David and Jon Sisson did not have to ask twice for my assistance.”
(L-R) Robert Lyons and Jon Sisson members of the board of directors for the Manny Pacquiao Foundation showing the certificate of recognition for meritorious humanitarian service given by the City of Long Beach, California.
“Manny truly is a Philippine national treasure. Last count, I have visited 78 countries and 46 states in the US and almost everyone knew the name of the good Senator. I would hope Filipinos around the world understand his impact not just in sports but humanity, in general. Through his hard work and charitable contributions, the Filipino people has a clear voice that can be heard throughout the world from the gang-riddled streets of Chicago to the less fortunate streets of the Philippines and the jungles of Uganda, Africa.”
Robert Lyons and his friends travel to far-flung places and donate time and resources to the less fortunate. Along the way, he has met friends like Brak Sophanna, a paraplegic from Siem Reap, Cambodia (site of the Angkor Wat), who dreams of the Pacquiao family visiting and singing with his people.
The PhnomPenhPost.com reports,” When he was just 10 years old, Brak Sophanna woke from a fever and realized that he could not move his legs. Paralysis was a devastating reality to face for a child – and even more so for one who dreamed of becoming a singer and composer. He gave up at first, he says. The 25-year-old has composed nearly 30 original songs, which have played on local television and drawn a few thousand views on his YouTube channel.
“I always told myself to move on and face it. The more challenges you face in life, the stronger you become,” Brak Sophanna says.
Top Left Valerie Gibbons, the better half of Sean Gibbons (Chief of MP Promotions), holds the American flag with Cambodian friends; Bottom left Brak Sophanna with Robert Lyons; Right photo: Thanksgiving Turkey Give Away (November 2019)
“Chess, as in life, is a game of strategy. Every move counts. We play with the pieces we got, sacrifice if we have to, take it to the middle and end game with a purpose,” Manny Pacquiao recently intimated to Bob Lyons and a handful of well-wishers in his training headquarters as he prepares for his fight against Errol Spence, Jr. on August 21, 2021 at the T-mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I once asked a very late Filipino boxing historian named Hermie Rivera how good Manny Pacquiao was on the board and he said, “Our man from Sarangani province, Philippines is a very good player, more of an attacking wood pusher. I was once a part of his sparring team in chess and we knew when we were about to lose…because he starts singing.”
An avid chess player, the fighting Senator from the Philippines can hold his own against very good players like Aquiles Zonio and renowned painter Jun Aquino.
“This year we stopped asking what if. And started asking why not lend a helping hand to those who need it the most with even greater generosity. Why not use our platform to inspire others to do more. Why not get off the sidelines and work towards a common goal. To all those who join us as we fight for those less fortunate…Thank you! Thank you for recognizing the strength we have together because together is how we change the world.
The Manny Pacquiao Foundation’s many charitable missions in the Philippines
(L-R) Mr. Jack Ma, Mrs. Jinkee and Mr. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao
Christmas Toys Give Away (Long Beach, California, 2020)
Back to school and back-pack give away (Long Beach, California, June 2021)
Benefit for the Chicago Boxing Club “The Bloc” to help and educate the underserved youth in the inner-city locales of Chicago, Illinois (as of July 2021)
(L-R) Robert Lyons, David Sisson, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, and Ed Lura, Jr. (LA Clippers, Staples Center, January 21, 2019)
Author’s notes: Lead photo shows Bob Lyons eyeing Manny Pacquiao’s favorite opening---King’s Pawn Game (1.e4 also known as e4, the most popular opening move in chess). The video in this article is courtesy of the Manny Pacquiao Foundation. All rights reserved.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.
PhilBoxing.com has been created to support every aspiring
Filipino boxer and the Philippine boxing scene in general.
Please send comments to email@example.com