Pacquiao fans at Tacloban City Astrodome celebrate the Filipino ring icon’s victory over Bradon Rios. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

Pacquiao fans at Tacloban City Astrodome celebrate the Filipino ring icon’s victory over Bradon Rios. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

TACLOBAN CITY: Filipinos in the storm-ravaged city of Tacloban joined the nation in celebration on Sunday after watching boxing hero Manny Pacquiao defeat American Brandon Rios in a comeback fight he dedicated to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

For a brief moment, those who lost their homes, their livelihoods and even loved ones in the storm forgot their misery as they watched a free, live broadcast of Pacquiao’s overwhelming points victory over Rios in Macau.

“I’m so happy that he won. This is a win for all Filipinos. It will surely uplift our spirits, especially the victims of Typhoon Yolanda,” said Mario Penaflor, 41, amid the joyful crowds in Tacloban.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) International welterweight title clash was broadcast in four public areas in Tacloban to lift the spirits of residents who suffered the brunt of the typhoon’s fury.

The super typhoon has left almost 7,000 dead and missing after its rampage through the central Philippines earlier this month.

Whole families, including children and the elderly, had trooped into Tacloban’s main sports stadium— which served as a major evacuation center during the storm—in a festive mood, ushered in by police and military.

Spirits were high despite the grim evidence of the storm’s destruction that, more than two weeks on, still surrounded them: the damp seats, the stadium’s ruined ceiling, and the crowded conditions.

The crowd proudly sang the national anthem as it was played in Macau and then cheered wildly all through the fight.

The celebration began in the last round as Pacquiao’s victory became obvious. Despite their troubles, people jumped up and down, cheering and laughing in jubilation.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s spokesman, Herminio Coloma congratulated Pacquiao, saying: “As our people’s hearts and minds were united in facing the challenges of the numerous tragedies that faced our country, just like Manny, we will triumph over our current problems by working together.”

He added: “In the face of a tough fight, he has displayed the strength and the character of the Filipino.”

Rainier Panquinco, 29, who lost his home in the storm, said: “It’s a super good day. For awhile, I forgot my suffering.”

He had prayed hard for Pacquiao and did not line up for relief goods Sunday just so he could watch the fight.

“It will give us hope here in Tacloban, and in Leyte and Samar,” he said, referring to the two islands that suffered the worst of the typhoon.

Yolanda was just the latest in a series of calamities to hit the Philippines this year. In October, a 7.1-magnitude quake left over 200 dead and tens of thousands displaced while a bloody, three-week long siege of Zamboanga City by Muslim rebels in September left at least 244 dead with over 100,000 homeless.

Pacquiao, 34, a former champion in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, was seeking to redeem himself against Rios in Macau after losing his last two fights.

Even before the fight began, many people in Tacloban said a Pacquiao victory held a special significance for them.

Dondon Estandarde, 38, who came to the stadium with his wife and young son, said “a win for Manny is a win for everyone. It will be a win for Filipinos and it will help us typhoon victims also stand up and fight (and show) that we can get back on our feet.”

Pacquiao, who has parlayed his sports fame into election to Congress and a fortune in commercial endorsements, had previously vowed not to let his countrymen down.

“This is not about my comeback,” he said in the ring immediately after the verdict on Sunday.

“This is about my people’s comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy.”



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  1. Epifanio J. Gagajena, Jr. on

    I’ve just read the numerous stories and commentaries about our national hero Manny Pacquiao after his convincing victory over Brandon Rios. But no one has yet written much about the things he said in answer to some of the questions of the tv announcers after the fight…except that he dedicated this fight to his Filipino compatriots hit hard by typhoon Yolanda (Haylan), that they were his inspiration to win this fight.

    No one mentioned what he said about his being a super sport, going to the corner of Brandon Rios and congratulating his trainers and boxing coach who had earlier bad-mouthed Manny that he was “on the way down” in his boxing career. And that Manny said in answer to one of the questions that he has NO GRUDGE against any of his opponents, that although they come out swinging at each other in the ring, after the fight, he said, “We are all brothers and sisters.”

    No one wrote about his being thankful to God for the victory. And when one of the interviewers was asked if Manny’s religion interfered with his boxing career, this person answered that (to paraphrase) “Manny’s religion has precisely made him the fighter and boxer that he is.” He was referring to Manny’s brief moment of silence as he kneels on his corner…fervently praying, before every fight.

    Manny Pacquiao could very well be our best ambassador of goodwill all over the world. I could still recall how he walked to Manuel Marquez’s corner with a smile on his face congratulating Marquez after he was knocked down by a “lucky shot”. (For a few moments, my heart almost stopped beating, seeing Manny sprawled unconscious on the canvas.) He is also gracious in defeat. He makes his defeats lessons for a comeback win. He is humble in victory, praising Brandon Rios and his handlers for putting up a good fight, even admitting that Rios hurt him in the fifth round.

    For me Manny embodies the “Filipino spirit”…his resiliency, likability, gentle and charming simplicity, rising from dire poverty to greatness and unimaginable wealth and popularity, with great faith in the Almighty, taking life’s punches as they come just like our compatriots who have and are suffering much from an almost 3-week bloody seige and encounter in Zamboanga with Muslim terrorists and separatists, the 7.2 devastating earthquake in Bohol, and the havoc of super typhoon Yolanda (Haylan), the strongest super typhoon in recorded human history. Manny carries the winsome smile of every Filipino across our planet…from the doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants and countless OFWS in every nation and continent, showing the world why the great Jesuit Fr. James B. Reuter so loved the Filipinos to his dying day.

    This Thanksgiving, I thank God for the “gift of Manny (Pacman) Pacquiao”. No matter our problems – political, economic or otherwise, we as a nation shall always rise up from the rubble, like the proverbial Phoenix…rising from the ashes, like the mighty eagle of our forests…winging our way up into the heavens, looking straight into the eyes of the morning sun, way above the clouds of our calamities and shortcomings as a people.

  2. Rios is like Margarito compare in speed and movement, Margarito goes down in weight while Rios goes up in weight. I like Pacquiao but lets wake up in reality and open our eyes. We knows that pacquaio win most of his fight due to catch weight, his last belt that make him 8 division champion is not even valid in reality, why? Margarito and pacquaio fight for the belt even both of them are not qualified, Why? the belt is 154lb and Margarito and Pacquiao is less than 150lb when they fight, how can it be, to boost Pacquiao papularity so Bob Aurum make more money and his stock go up,his promotion will be top of the line. If Pacquiao now could not knock Rios, who will be his next opponent that will suit him, in his weight category, Andrien Broner, Bradley, Marcos Maidana or Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse , Ruslan Provodnikov, Zab Judah, or you could say Canelo Avarez. If he will fight this fighter i believe Pacquiao will go in comatose. So what is his Chances of beating Floyd none.
    Reason: Floyd is much taller, he has longer reach, he is more faster, he is slick. Pacquiao want to fight floyd on one reason and one reason alone to make big buck, he knows he could not win and Aurum knows it too, but Aurum like pacquiao to believe that he will win. Floyd doesnt like to fight pacquiao for so many reason, floyd dont like Aurum to make money, pacquiao dont like blood test, pacquiao like 50/50 in pay which will not going to happened, Why! Floyd make more money than pacquiao, floyd own his own promotion, pacquiao loose two fight in a row. If Pacquiao could beat the fighter that i mention, i believe he has a chance to win with Floyd, but i believe this fighter will put him out in his misery.