Manny Pacquiao: The People's Champ Forever

Our Exclusive Interview with Manny Pacquiao at his home in General Santos City, Philippines


Redemption is on the table.

With less than 20 days before his match against Brandon Rios, the People’s Champion Manny Pacquiao sat down with the WikaMag team after his routine training session for an exclusive interview. We flew to the Champ’s hometown in Southern Philippines, General Santos City, where he is currently training at his very own Wild Card Gym. We waited for the Champ at the “Bulwagan” (receiving area) of his mansion, and he warmly welcomed us into his home for a quick glimpse of his day while he is training mode for the big fight. After the very controversial loss against Juan Manuel Marquez last December 2012, Pacquiao said he was busy doing his Congressional duties. Currently on his 2nd term as Representative of the Lone District of Sarangani Province after running unopposed in the recent May 2013 elections, he is a man who carries the honor of his country both in the ring and in the Philippine House of Representatives. Cong. Manny finds happiness serving his constituents and the Filipino people - it is clear to him that it is his duty to help. It is also something he always talks about, it is a huge priority. “For me," he says, "poverty was an actual experience. I know what it feels like to do without a home, to do without food. I know what it’s like to go hungry.”  He is a very humble and thoughtful man - he yearns for the simple things, such as the enjoyment of doing household chores. But with a full staff at his home and the rest of the Team Pacquiao taking care of everything for him, he is relieved of such minute responsibilities. He sometimes gets the chance to drive his cars on a quiet day in Gensan and jog peacefully around his village in the posh Forbes Park, Makati City. “Bihira nalang din ako nakakapagdrive, sa Gensan yung lagi kong gamit is yung Black Hummer ko,"  (I rarely get to drive anymore, I drive my Black Hummer around Gen. Santos.) says Pacquiao. He adds, "Di ako nakakapaglakad kung saan-saan, dinudumog ako ng tao para magpa-autograph at magpapicture.” (I don't get to walk around anymore, the crowds form to get autographs and pictures, but it is something I indulge in.) Despite being in the arena of boxing, Pacquiao only got into a fight once with a classmate during his elementary years at Saavedra Saway School.  He was defending his friend from being bullied. One of the boxing icons that Manny idolized when he was younger is Rolando Navarrete, who was known as the “Bad Boy of Dadiangas,” but he quickly adds that he also looked up to a lot of other great boxers - legends like Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar dela Hoya, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazer. But, he said that Bruce Lee is really his idol. "Idol ko talaga si Bruce Lee, pinapanood ko sya noong bata pa ako. Paborito ko yung pelikula nya na Enter the Dragon.” (I've idolized Bruce Lee ever since I was a kid. Enter the Dragon is my favorite Bruce Lee movie.) Manny Pacquiao said that before he met Coach Freddie Roach, his boxing style was reckless, “Yung sa Blow by Blow, sugod ako ng sugod. Kinorrect talaga ni Coach Freddie yung galaw ko. Bago pa ako pumunta noon ng U.S para maghanap ng makakalaban, nag-ensayo na ako dito sa Pilipinas kaya nung Ledwaba fight, hindi na kami ganoon nahirapan sa mga adjustments.” (My fighting style when I was on "Blow by Blow" was to attack and attack. Coach Freddie corrected my movements, and in the preparations for that first US fight with Ledwaba, I had already been training in the Philippines, so it was an easy adjustment when I got to Los Angeles.) Manny kept on winning, and dominating his way to eight different weight class titles. It is an achievement that has never been done before in the history of boxing... before Pacquiao came along. He recalls the fight with another great... He never really imagined the possibility of the dream match with Oscar dela Hoya. It was something he didn't think could possibly happen. He says, “Noong sunud-sunod na ang panalo ko, tsaka nalang naayos yung deal para sa laban namin ni Oscar. Magaling din talaga syang boxer, malaki ang respeto at paghanga ko sa kanya.” (When I started to rack up the wins, that was the only time that the deal with Oscar was even considered. He is such a great boxing legend, and I have the utmost respect and admiration for him.) When asked about how his preparation for his upcoming fight, he said that he is in very good condition, and he is positive that he will bring home victory once again. He jokingly added that he wishes to see Jimmy Kimmel, his “good luck charm” before his match against Rios but unfortunately, he won’t be able to since the fight is in Macau, China. With regard to future boxing matches, he said that he’s open to all possibilities of opponents and venues. He leaves it to his promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank and adviser, Mike Koncz. He said he cannot say when he will finally hang his gloves, but right now, he is very focused on winning his match against Rios. Future Political Plans We asked, "Cong. Manny, may plano po ba kayong tumakbo bilang presidente ng Pilipinas?" (Do you have any plans of running for the Presidency?) He laughed and answered, “Naku, baka magkaissue nanaman ito. Wala yan sa mga immediate plans natin," (Haha, oh man, we might ensue another episode with that issue. No, the presidency is not in our immediate plans.) "I am currently the Congressman of Sarangani, and my constituents at the district remain to be of utmost priority," he adamantly states. "Tayo naman gusto lang natin magserbisyo at tumulong. (All we want to do is to serve and help.) As Spiderman would say, with great power, comes great responsibility (laughs)." "Ipaubaya nalang po natin sa kagustuhan ng Panginoon kung ano man ang mangyayari sa future.”  (We leave it up to God and his will, whatever he may want to happen for the future.) Message to all his fans: “Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong patuloy na pagsuporta at sana hindi kayo magsawa. Kayo po ang aking inspirasyon at umasa kayong gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya upang makapagbigay muli ng karangalan sa ating bansa. God bless us all!” (Thank you all very much for your continued support, and I hope you continue to do so. You all serve as my inspiration, and you can count on the fact that I will do everything in my power to bring honor and glory to our Nation once again. God bless us all.) [Feature Photo Credit: Chris Farina / Top Rank Boxing] [nggallery id=86]   *Editor's Note: This interview was conducted weeks before the devastating events that happened in The Philippines due to the powerful Typhoon Haiyan. Congressman Pacquiao has since then dedicated this upcoming fight to the Filipino people, and to those affected in Tacloban and the surrounding areas. -- Krista Gem J. Mercado is currently Chief of Staff at the Philippine House of Representatives, and the newest contributing writer at Wika Magazine.