Pacman comes home

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur - He came as promised. Sarangani Cong. Manny Pacquiao was welcomed by hundreds of boxing fans at the Digos City Gym here Wednesday afternoon as he spearheaded the opening rites of the PLDT-Abap National Amateur Boxing Championships that he himself sponsored.

The eight-division world champion was escorted by Davao del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista and Digos City Mayor Joseph "Jojo" Peñas to the city's old gym were his fans and supporters were waiting.

Pacquiao, the current WBO welterweight champion, smiled, waved and granted photo opportunities to amateur boxers and spectators alike as he waited for his turn to address the crowd.


"Pasalamat ko sa tanang mga bisita niabot karon diri. Ayaw ko huna-hunaa nga bisita ko kay taga diri ko. Gimugna ni nga torneyo kay diri ko nagsugod sa akong boxing career. Digos team ko sa una. Dugay ko diri tong amateur boxer pako (I thank all the visitors who are here. Don't think I'm a guest though since I'm from here. This tournament was organized here because this is where I started my boxing career. I was part of Digos team when I was still an amateur boxer)," Pacquiao said.

He bragged, "Kabalo mo pila ko katuig nagpuyo diri. Kabisado na nako ang mga lugar diri (I stayed several years here. I'm familiar with the place)," Pacquiao added that he could have brought the competition in Sarangani or in General Santos City but Digos, according to him, reminds him of his humble beginnings as a boxer.

Although he was very at ease speaking in the vernacular, Pacquiao also took notice of delegates from Luzon who doesn’t understand Visayan.
"Maraming salamat sa pagpunta niyo rito. Ipagpaumanhin niyo rin kung may mga pagkukulang man kami. Biglaan kasi ito. May pangalawa pa ito at isasabay natin sa selebrasyon ng Araw ng Davao del Sur sa susunod na taon," Pacquiao assured.

He then thanked Bautista and Peñas for supporting the tournament and for the rest of the organizing committee for their hard work.

Bautista earlier thanked Pacquiao for choosing Digos as host of his tournament, "Pwede man ungta niya ibutang maski asa ang national championships pero ang pinakamoymoy sa Mindanao iyang gipili. Wala ta makalimtan sa atong champion (He could have brought the tournament anywhere but chose the tail ender of Mindanao instead. Our champion didn't forget us)."

Pacquiao then watched few bouts including one that pitted a Pacman-Digos boxer who beat his rival. He also judged exhibition bouts of elite boxers from the national team.

Fans followed him when he left the gym and saw him board his Hummer. He vowed to return and watch more bouts in the tournament that will end Sunday.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 04, 2014.


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