‘Pacman’ plans relief mission for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 Nov.) — Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao will embark on a relief mission this week for survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” in parts of the Visayas region.

In a press conference at the Sarangani provincial capitol on Monday night, Pacquiao said he has long been aching to visit Tacloban City and other areas affected by the typhoon to personally deliver relief assistance to the victims.

Pacquiao, along with his team, returned to this city on a chartered flight from Macau, China late Monday afternoon, a day after his impressive win over Mexican-American brawler Brandon Rios.

“Even before, I already wanted to visit the affected areas but I also wanted to concentrate first on my fight. Now that it’s over, it’s time for me to go there,” he said.

He initially instructed his staff at the Sarangani congressional district office to prepare the relief goods that will be delivered to the typhoon-hit areas.

The lawmaker and his staff will finalize Tuesday the schedule of the relief mission, which will cover parts of Samar and Leyte provinces as well as other areas in Visayas.

“I’ll be bringing my chopper there so we can extend the relief goods to areas that would be difficult to reach by land travel,” Pacquiao said.

Days after the onslaught of the typhoon last November 8, the lawmaker reportedly tried to take a break from training so he could visit the affected areas but was prevailed upon by his trainers.

The eight-division world boxing champion earlier dedicated the Rios bout to the victims of typhoon “Yolanda” and promised to immediately return home after the fight so he could attend to them.

Following his stunning knockout loss to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in December last year, Pacquiao hastily returned home to lead a relief mission then to victims of typhoon Pablo, which devastated parts of Eastern Mindanao.

Pacquiao took the World Boxing Organization’s international welterweight belt in a unanimous decision over a bloodied and badly beaten up Rios following their fight at the Cotai Arena of Macau’s Venetian Hotel and Casino.

His team, which includes promoter Bob Arum, trainers Freddie Roach and Buboy Fernandez and Canadian adviser Michael Koncz, arrived at the General Santos International Airport at around 4 p.m. amid a rousing welcome from local officials and residents.

It included Pacquiao’s wife Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee, mother Dionisia, brothers Roel and Bobby and close ally City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.

The city government staged a two-hour grand motorcade around the city for Pacquiao as part of its prepared hero’s welcome.

Pacquiao was joined by his wife Jinkee and mother Dionisia aboard an adorned float, which was mobbed by thousands of residents as it toured the city’s main thoroughfares.

He later transferred to another vehicle that brought him to the Sarangani provincial for a homecoming program and dinner hosted by Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon and other provincial officials. (MindaNews)