Hero's welcome awaits Pacman in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 November) – A day after witnessing boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s successful bid for a historic eighth world boxing title, residents and local officials here started to draw out plans for a grand hero’s welcome for the homecoming of the city’s favorite son.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Monday the city government will offer Pacquiao a hero’s welcome and the highest honor for bringing glory to the city and the entire country with his masterful domination of Mexican brawler Antonino Margarito in their World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight championship fight on Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“You can really feel the pride of being a Filipino with his win. It was an achievement that deserves the highest honor,” the mayor said.

Custodio led more than 6,000 residents in cheering for Pacquiao during the local government-sponsored free live viewing of the fight at the city gymnasium.

The city government had sponsored free live telecasts at the city gymnasium for previous major fights of Pacquiao, who hails from Barangay Labangal here.

The boxing champion, who won as representative of nearby Sarangani Province’s lone district in the May 10 elections, is expected to arrive in Manila on Friday.

Custodio said they expect the Pacquiao camp to lay out a grand homecoming party for the boxing champion in Sarangani but she said the city government will formally request a brief stop for the latter in the city.

City officials and residents had honored Pacquiao with a motorcade around the city and a special program at the city’s oval plaza gymnasium every time he came home from his previous international fights.

Pacquiao started his stellar boxing career several years ago in weekend amateur boxing fights at the city plaza that were sponsored by local boxing promoters.

The former “pandesal” vendor turned multimillionaire joined the political arena in the 2007 national and local elections but lost to then reelectionist Rep. Custodio in the race for the first
congressional district seat of South Cotabato.

He has since transferred his official residence to Kiamba town in Sarangani, his wife Jinkee’s hometown, where he won by landslide in last May’s congressional race.

However, Pacquio’s parents Rosalio and Dionisia and most of his siblings have remained residents of the city.

In last month’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, Pacquiao’s younger brother Ruel was reelected chair of Barangay Apopong while sister-in-law Lorelei won as chair of their family’s home village of Labangal. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)