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Seeing the PacMan Up Close

The sort of attention that the Pambansang Kamao can draw these days is nothing sort of amazing. Just on the news a while back, there was a huge crowd to welcome the PacMan as he and his entourage arrived in Vegas on board a special bus.

Another clip was shown of the PacMan training at the University of Las Vegas arena. Afterwards, members of the university’s track team gleefully surrounded him for a souvenir shot as did soldiers of the United States Army who were also training in the arena.

My word! But the PacMan has really gone places!

I have only ever seen him once – and up close at that – and I cannot say that I was duly impressed. I was at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu for a Catholic educators’ congress; and suddenly the padritos and the madritas went scampering towards some lounge seats where, I later discovered, the PacMan was meeting with some unknown gentlemen.

Yeah, yeah... To have their pictures taken with him.

The PacMan looked embarrassed, frankly. The padritos and the madritas did not really give him a lot in the way of choices. They simply surrounded him and the other gentlemen and snapped away as though the world was about to end the next day.

Naturally, since curiosity did indeed kill the cat, I went to see what the commotion was all about. And naturally, since I am only human, I brought out my – by now – antiquated cell phone with its equally antiquated VGA camera and snapped away like everyone else was doing.

You gotta understand, I am only a casual boxing fan. I used to watch Muhammad Ali a lot in the old days. Ditto Sugar Ray Leonard during his heyday. But it has never been as though boxing was the sort that I would stay up late for, you know.

And while I was vaguely aware that the PacMan was starting to attract worldwide attention, it was never as though I was following his career. So, up close as I was, the only thing that I could think of was... What was all the fuss all about?

I mean, I stand at 5’ 9 ½”... I have always been aware that, although I am pretty tall for a Filipino, among white Caucasians I will only be average. Looking down at that figure on the lounge chair...

Well, he looked tiny...

I even remember thinking that I wouldn’t have too much trouble taking him on. Would you step outside please...

...for a game of football, that is!

Although, records will state, that the PacMan had lost to another R. Torrecampo. Rustico is the name; but Rex Raymond happens to be more agile with the feet.

Well, the padritos and the madritas were obviously disturbing a serious conference so that the PacMan and his entourage soon sneaked away to continue their discussions in privacy. They got a private room, somebody hyphothesized.

Two years earlier, I was with another group of fellow employees attending a similar congress in Davao. We made a sidetrip to General Santos City to visit the Notre Dame College of Dadiangas, where they maintained a museum of Pacquiao memorabilia.

I even put on the PacMan’s gloves for a souvenir pic. I could barely get my hands in. The gloves felt tiny; much like a kid’s winter mittens.

Of course, pound for pound, the PacMan has been hailed as one of the best boxers in living memory. Not to mention among the richest. The news reports said he stands to earn something like 20M for the Marquez fight alone. What I can do with that sort of money!

Why-oh-why did I ever fall in love with this game called football???

Ah, well... Guess it’s onto Sunday, then... Why am I so certain that there will be no crime for at least an hour come Sunday? And that the roads will be bare of traffic?

For such a small man, the PacMan can really rein an entire nation in! And who says that I am talking about the Philippines alone? Even my nephew in Houston is excited about the bout!

As for Juan Manuel Marquez... Well... Don’t let the tiny gloves hurt you too much... And when the world starts to spin... Well... There’s no embarrassment in the sparrows flying around because of a PacMan uppercut...

Come on PacMan! Let him feel the pain! May Alaxan Ip-ar naman...

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