Pacquiao’s victory a symbol of hope for Filipinos following Yolanda

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 25, 2013

TAMPA, FL – After beating Brandon Rios in a 12-round unanimous decision in Macau Saturday, Manny Pacquiao not only jumpstarted his declining boxing career, his victory became a symbol of hope to many kababayans in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda.

“We’re just happy that Manny’s back,” Leo Yanson said. “He’s still a great fighter. He still got his speed. He can fight with anybody. This is very uplifting news for the Filipinos.”

“I love the fight,” Gary Stein said. “I’ve been to many Pacquiao fights. I was just praying Manny would win tonight and he did.”

“Despite all the tragedy that happened in the Philippines, Manny gave them something to cheer and something to hope for,” Boying Rivera said.

A few hundred Filipinos and non-Filipinos came to the “Operation Tulong” watching party at the Bayanihan Center in Tampa Saturday that raised more than $35,000 for Typhoon Yolanda survivor.

The money raised would be donated to ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Kapamilya Program and Gawad Kalinga to rebuild homes in the devastated areas.

“It’s just fitting that we respond to our brothers and sisters over there,” Ed Bilbao said. “This fight is also for all Filipinos.”

Organizers said, in the wake of the super typhoon in their homeland, they have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

“Everybody gets into that bayanihan spirit,” Lucy Bautista said. “I am thankful for what we have. I am thankful that we are the ones helping instead of us being helped.”

Meantime, at the Noypitz bar and restaurant in Glendale, California, over a hundred Pacquiao fans were glued to the television screen to witness Pacquiao’s long-awaited return to the ring.

While they feel the fighting congressman still has a few good fights left, they have no preference on his next opponent.

“Whoever is worthy,” Leo Danao expressed.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, officers and members of the Arizona Society of Philippine Health Professionals cheered on their boxing idol while also raising about $2,000 for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

“We are going to use the money to buy children there school supplies. We also need to get them items for their oral hygiene such as toothpaste,” Dr. Jesus Evangelista said.

“We are celebrating the victory of Pacquiao and we are also happy that we can present a significant amount of donation to the victims of the typhoon,” Dr. Paul Valbuena added.

Pacquiao, who dedicated his win to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, admitted his body does not feel the same as before and that somewhere down the road, he has to think about retirement.

But the 34-year old said he still feels fast and strong and tells Rios he’s dreaming if he thinks he’s retiring the Pinoy boxing champ.

Pacquiao said that only God can retire him.

With reports from Steve Angeles and Fleur Magbanua-Mansur.

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