MANILA — The atmosphere on Friday night (Dec. 20) in his Forbes Park mansion in Makati City was subdued as a small number of visitors listened intently to every word that came out of his mouth.
The soft light had something to do with the ambience as Manny Pacquiao reminisced the days when he had to walk almost bare-feet for several miles under the blazing afternoon sun selling either ice cream or doughnuts so that that there’d be food on the table.
A few days before Christmas, Pacquiao could not help but look back at the time when the mere mention of food made him drool in excitement.
Now, with exotic and expensive food laid out on the long table, Pacquiao no longer goes the extra mile in making sure there’d be something to chew on.
Whatever he fancies or craves for end up being served on his plate pronto just like the lobster and other seafood specialties that he just had.
“Life was hard back when I was growing up in General Santos,” said Pacquiao, who even moonlighted as a distributor of garlic and pepper in the local market while mother Dionisia earned a few pesos repacking fish crackers in plastic sachets.
The small crowd included Sarangani governor Steve Solon, aide Joe Ramos and wife Joan and a handful more onlookers, and as the dinner ended, just about everyone was moved by Pacquiao’s sob story.
“I never thought that I would be somebody,” said Pacquiao, who was lured into boxing by an uncle who had a stack of videotapes starring Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Pacquiao said he got P100 during his first amateur fight and about P1,000 when he was still a four-rounder in the mid-1990s.
Those days are now long gone, and Pacquiao has millions in dollars in the banks and countless properties even though he is currently trying to fight off the taxman here and abroad. Pacquiao doesn’t seem to mind that he is facing the toughest fight of his storied career as he looks forward to his fight in April or May 2014 against a foe yet to be named.
Floyd Mayweather remains in his mind although he might end up facing Juan Manuel Marquez or Tim Bradley.
But five weeks after his last fight, Pacquiao isn’t thinking much about boxing.
“I just fought so let us all have a break and enjoy the holidays,” said Pacquiao, who beat Brandon Rios in Macau.There was still a sizable portion of lobster left untouched as well as a plateful of vegetables, beef stew and squid and crabs that had turned cold as Pacquiao stood from his chair. The scene was a far cry from the time when Pacquiao and his siblings and parents had dined on watery rice porridge. (Nick Giongco)