The whole Philippines stands still today. Very few vehicles were on the road when I went out earlier. Almost the entire country is at home, at pay-per-view establishments or on the internet intently looking for livestreaming links.
I had the chance to meet Manny Pacquiao a few months back. He was shooting a TV commercial for a pain-relieving drug, Alaxan FR, and I stayed quietly in the background watching him go through the shoots, joking with the staff in between takes, and noting how lean and muscular, absolutely no excess fat, and lithe his body was (a sign of the rigorous training and care he had for his body).
After his commercial takes, Manny came to the room where a few of us were waiting, and eagerly sat down on a sofa to field our questions. I was just an arms-length away from him -- the closest I probably could ever get. Question after question was shot at him and he answered them all, even discreetly evading having to answer the then controversial issue between him and a lady actress.
I threw some questions at him (and yes, my speaking in Filipino was challenged, hehehe).
On how politics will affect his being a spiritual person and on how leading a Congressman's life will affect his family, this is what Manny has to say:
My first closeup impression of Manny? What you see on TV is how he is in real life. He is humble. Low profile. Always smiling. Comes across as sincere in wanting to help his constituents in Saranggani. Loves the Philippines and God.
Today, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will go for his 8th title. Physically, he is way disadvantaged compared to Antonio Margarito in terms of height, reach and weight. But that has never stopped Manny Pacquiao from going for his dreams.
Today, everyone in the Philippines wishes him well and will be praying for him. And if he does get to win this fight, he will come back to the Philippines an even greater David who overcame (literally) the giant Goliath. And an even greater idol in everyone's eyes.
We're rooting for you, Manny!
(HAPPY UPDATE (sorry for spoilers for some people if you're not on pay-per-view): Manny Pacquiao won the fight!!! This is boxing history in the making. It will be a happy day when the Pacman returns to the warmest welcome ever.)