Los Angeles -- Much had been said about Manny Pacquiao. He is being hailed as the greatest boxer of the decade. His phenomenal climb on top of the rankings has made him earn the recognition and the accolade of boxing fans and critics alike. But, who is the Manny Pacquiao as a person, as a buddy and as a family man. I know I may not be the best person to state these facts but my friendship with him which goes back from year 2000 has made me know the person's humble beginnings and made me very happy to see his climb to greatness and to be blessed with a special friendship.
We were both struggling boxers then, both starting to etch a name in the boxing world. He lived right next door at the apartment in Josefa Apartments where my wife and I were staying. He is humble, dedicated to his craft and very passionate about boxing. We were still lanky and look amateurish but we enjoyed our simple life then with our respective families. We had fun training sessions with my brothers Dodie and Carl then. We were also "kumpares" twice over. I was the godfather of his two kids, Michael and Jemuel and he is also the godfather of my two kids JC and Jullienne. Jinkee and my wife Goody were also buddies then and they exchange advices and views on how to handle the life of being a boxer's wife. Life was easy then, life was simple. I had my moments as world boxing champion and I knew he was very happy for my success.
He started campaigning for boxing greatness and his dedication and passion were rewarded. He received sharp blows of defeat but there were more moments of victories brought by his fast fists and intelligence. By then, the whole boxing community were slowly taking notice of a provincial lad who has a knockout punch and as they say the rest is history.
Fast forward to now, Manny Pacquiao is hailed as one of the greatest boxers. He has made history as the boxer who championed in seven weight division and has even earned the monicker "Mexicutioneer" because Mexican boxers suffered defeat from his hands. Inspite of it all, he still hasn't changed one bit. His lifestyle might have changed but deep inside he is still the person who is easily pleased with life's simple pleasures. He smiles and laughs easily and still keeps in touch with us his old buddies whenever his busy schedule allows him. Year 2000 is a decade away from 2010 yet his passion and dedication is still strong and he is still as determined to defeat every opponent that is pitted against him.
I wish to thank my kumpareng Manny for the friendship he has shared with me and my family. Professionally, I would also like to say that I am very grateful for the big role he has played in giving Filipino boxers the chance to compete internationally and take a shot at world titles. Because of him, world boxing community became aware that our country Philippines produces honorable boxers with world-class talents. He has become the inspiration and the source of strength of aspiring athletes... a model worthy of emulation because of his intensity, passion and dedication.
On March 14, it's Pacquiao vs Clottey fight at Dallas, Texas. The entire nation will again rest its hopes on one man, Manny Pacquiao. I am sure, The Pacman will again bring with him his unwavering passion and superior boxing ability to be able to stop another foe from crushing his winning streak. Manny will always be a winner and the world champion. To some, he may be a star which is being viewed from afar but for his old buddies like me, he will always be a good friend who is always ready to show his support in victory or in defeat. Until this time, I can still hear what Manny told a reporter after my last fight.. "For me, it is Gerry Penalosa who won the fight." Thanks a lot, Pare.
This is Gerry Penalosa, always grateful for the opportunity to share my views to the boxing world. Isang magandang araw sa lahat!