updated 5 Feb 2011, 04:08
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Tue, Feb 01, 2011
The New Paper
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Manny has mother's fist
by Nunthini Silvalingam

FOR THE fearsome fighter that he is, Manny Pacquiao did not dare to tell his mother when he first became an amateur boxer at 14.

Instead, the 10-time world champion broke the news in a letter, according to mother Dionisia Pacquiao, who was in Singapore last weekend for a charity concert.

Speaking to The New Paper exclusively through a translator, the 61-year-old (above main picture) said: “He didn’t dare to tell me in person that he was going to Manila to try his luck in boxing. Instead, he left me a letter explaining his intentions.

“I was rather upset, I would have preferred for him to be in school at that age,” said the senior Pacquiao, who is known in her native Philippines as “Mommy Pacquiao”.

When asked if she disliked boxing, she was quick to reply that she had nothing against the sport.

“Actually, two of my uncles were boxers as well. I am proud of Manny and his boxing achievements.”

Chuckled Mommy Pacquiao as she held up a clenched fist: “Besides, I think Manny (left) has my fist.”

Manny’s decision to become a boxer was the turning point for Mommy Pacquiao and her six children – of which Manny is the fourth eldest.

She divorced Rosalio Pacquiao when Manny was in sixth grade, and Manny had to drop out of school when he was 11, as Mommy Pacquiao could not afford the school fees.

She said: “I did whatever I could to take care of my children – sometimes I would sell peanuts and rice cakes on the streets while Manny would sell bread.

“He was always trying to take care of us, we had no one to support us so he felt that he needed to be there for me.

Hard time

“It was a hard time for all of us and I tried my best to endure and stay strong for my children.”

Mommy Pacquiao added that religion also played a major part in getting her and her children through the tough times, which was also when Manny showed signs of his devotion to Roman Catholicism.

“Manny was the only one among my children who followed me to church regularly, hence the reason why you’d see him make the sign of the cross in the ring during matches,” she said.

The two stayed close throughout Manny’s boxing career, and Mommy Pacquiao’s eyes would twinkle with delight each time she mentioned him during the interview.

She said: “I always enjoy it when Manny calls me to go over his house. We spend hours just chatting – about life, the past and where we are heading to in the future.”

Mommy Pacquiao added that Manny bought her a two-storey house for her 60th birthday, and proceeded to describe the house in detail.

And as Manny started to become famous for his feats in the boxing ring, product endorsements, interviews and opportunities to perform started to come in for both Manny and Mommy Pacquiao.

“I have always enjoyed singing and dancing since I was a child, so I was excited and happy to be able to realise my dreams,” said Mommy Pacquiao, who has also acted in movies and appeared on numerous talk shows.

Last Saturday, she performed alongside the likes of Ceasar Montano, Benj, Myla Miles and Christine Loria at the Round 1 Charity Concert at The Arena in Clarke Quay.

The concert’s beneficiaries were the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics in Singapore and The Manny Foundation, a Filipino organisation for underprivileged youth.

On the concert, she said: “It is my first charity event that I am participating in and in fact, it is my first show outside of the Philippines.

“I feel so happy, honoured and proud to be part of this event and I wish for it to be a successful one.”


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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