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    Dear Readers, Maligayang Bagong Taon po sa inyong lahat! I hope you all had a great holiday season this past December and were able to spend quality time with your families and friends. It’s hard to believe that it’s now 2020 and that we are already starting the third decade of this century! Last December 27, 2019 [...]

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MANNY PACQUIAO – MPBL ALL STAR WEEKEND

MANNY PACQUIAO – MPBL ALL STAR WEEKEND thumbnail

By The Pinoy Times Media Team

Roll Out the Welcome Wagon

It was as surreal as it gets. The minute that editor-in-chief Connie Kariaski and DJ OB mentioned that we were to interview the man who is regarded by many boxing historians as the greatest boxer of all time, it took me a while to scrounge up my wits and wake up from an enraptured stupor.

The word was out, it was too fabulous a secret to keep; Senator Manny Pacquiao is bringing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League to Calgary and the local community was abuzz, after all, it was a chance for them to see the Filipino champ in action, this time on the hardwood—knocking down shots as opposed to throwing shots and knocking down opponents.

Fast-forward, it was a quarter to midnight when we headed inside YYC Calgary International Airport and a bastion of crowd were at the lobby. DJ OB was beaming with a smile as he introduced me to Arwin Alcaraz and Ariel Melecia members of our Pinoy Times squad who will be documenting the event. Pleasantries were cut short as the towering figure of Zaldy Realubit, a retired professional basketball player and the current manager of operation for the MPBL, walked down the lobby to roll out the welcome wagon.

Everyone went through the wringer as they eagerly waited for the champ to arrive. Hearts were beating heavy thuds as if they were adrenalized metronomes as minutes went by, and at exactly 12:38 a.m. the door swung open as Manny walked through it where people swarmed him in delight. Everyone was starstruck. A co-passenger was losing his mind after he came to know that he was on the same flight with the incumbent senator of the Philippines. “Oh my God, I was on the same flight as he!”  he said with both hands on either side of his temple.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to see him at the hotel he was staying. We were taking selfies here and there with his star-studded entourage which included his sons. Stars of the Philippine Basketball Association were among those present which consisted of Kenneth Duremdes, Rodney Santos, Jay-jay Helterbran and actor/heartthrob, Gerald Anderson. Our media team even got a chance to have our pictures taken with the champ.

The Game

I came upon a roaring crowd at 7 Chiefs Sportsplex, Tsuu T’ina Nation. Manny was seated upstairs overlooking the games held on the court. When the clock struck five, the star was escorted to the court. The event commenced with the singing of Philippine national anthem Lupang Hinirang followed by the Canadian national anthem O Canada. DJ OB and I sat at the courtside to revel of what was transpiring before our eyes as Manny’s team was getting warmed up for the game, Arwin who was seated at the opposite end of the court invited us to join him and boy, we weren’t disappointed. We got the best seat in the house.

The showdown began as Calgary basketball team got the first basket against Manny’s team. The cheers rose into crescendo when Manny got the ball and drove to get his first bucket. The experience was nothing short of thrilling, as the crowd was dazzled with crossovers, dunks, and threes.’ You can feel the sheer excitement in the air.  When the horn sounded, Manny’s team emerged victorious as people ran up to him hoping to get a coveted selfie with champ. We, the Pinoy Times team, on the other hand were getting our pictures taken with the unsung stars of the game. We pursued Manny in the dug out and got a chance to have our memorabilia signed and have dinner with the star. Then it was time for him to go.

The Interview

Patience is indeed a virtue and the long wait is finally over. After a few days, we finally got a chance to meet Senator Manny Pacquiao for an interview at his hotel. Our media team member Carlo Galang was with us to capture the moment and the video is made available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkBIJ-H0MdI and on the Pinoy Times and Conquer Your Journey Photography Facebook pages respectively. The interview was short but sweet and speaking of short, it was nothing short of spectacular, so here it is:

DJ OB: “What is your vision for MPBL and what do you want to accomplish by establishing the league?”

Manny Pacquiao: “The vision of the MPBL is to give chance to players to showcase their talents and enable them to play.

DJ OB: “…and you’re going to bring them out of the country?”

Manny: “As long as there are Filipinos.”

DJ OB: “After all your historical accomplishments in boxing, what keeps you fighting when your contemporaries are sub-retired already; what keeps you going?

Manny: “Boxing is my passion and I enjoy doing that.

DJ OB: “What is your message for aspiring boxers—the up and coming—what do they need to be as successful like you?

Manny: “The first thing they need to do is believe in God. Hard work, discipline, time management and the most important thing is pushing yourself to work hard.”

DJ OB: “How are you liking your visit in Canada?”

Manny:  I like it here. The only thing I don’t like is the weather.

DJ OB: (chuckling) “The difference is from positive to negative.”

Manny: (smiling) “Yeah, but the place and the people are hospitable and friendly.”

Erwin: “What has been your motivation? After all these years you have been going. What has been your drive every morning?”

Manny: “My motivation as I’ve said is that boxing is my career. Not only that, I love also basketball. Everything that I want to do, I have to discipline myself; focus on the goal that I want to achieve.”

Erwin: “Many Filipinos look up to you because you came from the bottom and you rose into a superstar and you’ve changed the way Filipinos are right now. I’m pretty sure there’s a kid out there who wants to be just like you sir, what would be the message.

Manny: “My message to them is to work hard, be disciplined. It’s not bad to dream.”

In the end, it was a memorable experience to come face-to-face with the man who will go down in the history books and knowing that we are part of it is something worth taking.









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