GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 November) — Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao returned home late Monday afternoon amid a rousing hero’s welcome that drew thousands of residents to the streets.
Pacquiao’s entourage arrived aboard a chartered flight arranged by low-cost carrier Air Asia at 4:51 p.m. at the city international airport, a day after his impressive win over American brawler Chris Algieri for the World Boxing Organization’s welterweight title in Macau, China.
His entourage included his wife Jinkee and five children, mother Dionisia and his siblings, several close friends and political allies and members of his boxing team.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who personally watched the showdown in Macau, arrived along with Pacquiao’s entourage, which consisted of two full-capacity Airbus A320 flights of Air Asia.
Pacquiao, clad in a brown jacket, was met by city government officials and other local political leaders as well as scholars of the congressional office.
Hundreds of boxing fans, some of them coming from parts of South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces, also showed up to welcome Pacquiao at the airport.
Pacquiao was immediately whisked to a waiting float adorned with flowers and the country’s official colors for a motorcade to the city’s downtown area.
He was joined in the float by Mayor Rivera, several members of his family and boxing team.
During the motorcade, thousands of residents showed up at the roadside to cheer the homecoming of the city’s favorite son.
Shouts of “Manny, Manny” filled the air as another huge crowd greeted the boxing champion as his motorcade arrived infront of the city hall building.
Pacquiao briefly thanked the crowd before hastily leaving for the Sarangani provincial capitol in Alabel town, where he was feted to another hero’s welcome by the provincial government.
In a press conference, which was aired over radio station Bombo Radyo, the boxing icon expressed his gratitude to the unwavering support to him by local residents and officials of the province.
Pacquiao attributed his victory against Algieri, who was knocked down six times during the fight, to his rigid training camp and faith in God.
“Deep in my heart, the Lord knows how thankful I am. I can’t thank Him enough for giving me the strength to win this fight. Without him, I won’t be here in the first place,” he said in mixed Filipino and Cebuano.
Pacquiao also reiterated that he is eyeing several fights in the next two years before deciding whether it’s time for him to hang up his boxing gloves.
“I can’t say right now (as to when I should retire). I still feel okay, I’m still strong and healthy,” he added. (MindaNews)