MANILA/GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The local governments of Sarangani and this city are all set for the hero’s welcome and homecoming festivities for world boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao who arrived early Wednesday in Manila from Los Angeles.
It was reported that Pacquiao was scheduled to call on President Aquino in Malacanang at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
Earlier reports indicated that Pacquiao was to join a parade in his honor in Makati City also on the same day.
Pacquiao, an 8-division world champion, is considered a national hero in the country and regarded as a symbol of hope of the Filipinos.
He arrived in Manila 10 days after his unanimous decision loss to undefeated American fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas. The result of the fight triggered the filing of complaints against both fighters and their promoters by people who allegedly were not satisfied with how the bout, billed as fight of the century and the richest in record books, went.
The fighters and promoters, however, shrugged off the charges which they said would eventually be dismissed.
Before the fight, Mr. Aquino lauded Pacquiao for his achievements and honor he was bringing for the country. The President also asked Pacquiao to hang his gloves after the Mayweather fight.
Members of the Senate and fellow members of the House of Representatives also expressed their full support to Pacquiao.
After his May 2 mega-fight in Las Vegas, Pacquiao stayed in Los Angeles for a week to undergo surgery on his right shoulder, for a tear on his rotator cuff.
After his latest loss to Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao said he will move on and promised to be back and defeat everyone they put in front of him.
Lawyer Glenda Narcilla, spokesperson of the General Santos City Mayor’s Office, said the necessary arrangements are already in place for the grand hero’s welcome for Pacquiao.
She said Pacquiao, along with his family and team members, were scheduled to arrive in General Santos City Thursday.
The boxing sensation was initially scheduled to return last May 8 but his trip was reset to pave the way for an operation on a shoulder injury he suffered weeks before the fight.
Narcilla said that based on their arrangements with Sarangani officials, the hero’s welcome will be a joint undertaking of the two local governments.
Upon Pacquiao’s arrival at the city airport, she said he will be given military honors by a joint Army and police contingent.
She said city and Sarangani officials led by Mayor Ronnel Rivera, Vice Mayor Shirlyn Nograles and Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon will then line up to meet and greet Pacquiao.
“We have prepared a festive theme for his arrival,” she said.
The official said they have set up a stage where Pacquiao will give his arrival message to the welcoming crowd.
After the brief program, Narcilla said Pacquiao and his family will be joined by local officials to a float parade around the city.
She said it will later conclude at the SM City GenSan mall where a press conference and another welcome program will be held.
“We advised our barangay councils and business establishments to put up welcome banners to make the float parade more festive,” she said.
The local governments of Sarangani and this city earlier decided to give Pacquiao a hero’s welcome even as he lost his fight against Mayweather.
Mayweather defeated Pacquiao via unanimous decision to wrest the unified World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Council welterweight belt.
Mayor Rivera, who is a close political ally of Pacquiao, said the latter remains a champion for the city and deserves a hero’s welcome despite the result of the fight.
“Congressman Manny is still the champion for us. He deserves a hero’s welcome,” the mayor said.