TACLOBAN CITY (MindaNews / 24 November) — Despite the catastrophe wrought by super typhoon Yolanda on November 8, residents as well as evacuees gathered Sunday noon at the Tacloban City Convention Center to watch boxing icon Manny Pacquiao win the fight against American Brandon Rios for the World Boxing Organization’s International Welterweight Belt.
Pacquiao, the lone representative to Congress of Sarangani province in Mindanao, won by a unanimous decision after 12 rounds.
Huge screens and television sets were mounted at the Convention Center by SkyCable, to allow residents to watch the fight live from the Venetian Cotai Arena in Macau.
Boxing fan John Domingo, a resident of Barangay 87, Manlurip in San Jose, and his friends trooped to the Convention Center, locally referred to as “Astrodome,” as early as 9 in the morning.
He told MindaNews that they went to the airport first but were told by security personnel that only passengers could enter, so they proceeded to the “Astrodome.”
“If today were an ordinary day, I would have been working to fix my house which was destroyed by typhoon Yolanda,” he said.
But nothing excites him most than watching a Pacquiao fight.
Christ Dale Nagami, an 18-year old fisher from Barangay 59-A Sampaguita, said he would not miss the fight because “Pacman is my idol, he is my source of inspiration.”
“Our house was lost during typhoon and we are living now in an evacuation center,” he said in mixed Cebuano and Waray.
He said his father asked him to help to fix their fishing boat which was damaged by the typhoon but “I told my father that today is Pacman’s fight. He decided to come along to watch, too.”
Carpenter Nerio Garcia, 47, a resident of V & G Subdivision in Barangay 109-A said his wife asked him to fix the roof destroyed by Yolanda but said he would do so after Pacquiao’s fight.
“I used to watch (Pacquiao fights) in our house with my wife but there is no electricity so I decided to come here,” he said
Garcia said it’s his first time to watch a Pacquiao fight at the Astrodome.
“It’s fun because you can hear people screaming and shouting every time Pacman connects a shot against his opponent,” he said.
Garcia said it’s been two weeks since he watched television.
Tyron Palis, 25, a security guard of Expert Global Solution, a call center based here, said he and his pregnant partner watched the fight.
Tyron and his siblings have been staying at the Convention Center for two weeks now since their house in Barangay 54- A Magallanes was swept away by Yolanda.
He said they arrived at the “Astrodome” a day before Yolanda struck.
For an hour or so, the spectators did not have to think of their problems.
“My mind was too focused on the fight. I thought Rios would be knocked out in the early rounds,” said 10-year old Daryl Casipong, a Grade 4 student.
Casipong said their house in Barangay 62-A, Sagkaan was also destroyed by Yolanda.
But not everybody watched the fight.
Catalino Agujero, 57, of Barangay 84, Manlurip, San Jose told MindaNews that he couldn’t’ watch the fight because he had to get relief goods first. But Agujero predicted that Pacquiao would win.
“He has the power and speed and he can beat Rios,” he said.
Villa Castro, 63, a retired cashier at the Department of Public Works and Highways in Region 8 and a resident of Barangay 84 Manlurip said she wanted to watch the fight but could not leave her partly damaged house.
” I’ll just watch a replay next year when we have electricity,” she said.
The super typhoon swept aways houses and destroyed power lines, among others. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)