Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pacman Up Close

Probably the best pound for pound boxer in the country. And the world. 

Sports icon. Living legend. A national hero. Everyone's Pacman. And after eight world division championship belts, he's still punching. And he's as strong as ever. And I got to see the man up close, during one of his intense sparring sessions at Pacman Wildcard Gym in General Santos City, made possible by AirAsia.

AirAsia formalized its sponsorship agreement with Team Pacquiao last Wednesday, November 12, 2014, with AirAsia's Founder and CEO Tony Fernandes flying in to Pacman Wildcard Gym in General Santos City to meet Pacman. The partnership will include featuring Pacman on the livery of its iconic red Airbus A320 aircraft, the same aircraft that will fly Team Pacquiao to Macau in November 23 for his bout with Chris Algieri. AirAsia once featured Taylor Swift on its aircraft, but this will be the first time that a Filipino athlete's image will be shown on a commercial aircraft. 

It was my first time at GenSan, the country's Tuna Capital, and Pacman's home. As we entered Pacman Wildcard Gym, Pacman was already busy with his sparring sessions. After several intense rounds at the ring sparring with Coach Freddie Roach, Pacman steps down for more routines on the floor.

With intense focus and concentration, Pacman zones out the crowd, as he throws his timed punches while bobbing and weaving in and out and around with perfect footwork.

Each punch, each jab, each uppercut is followed by cheers from Pacman's friends and loyal supporters. And he knows each punch he throws is accompanied by the nation's collective prayers. For many, each time Pacman enters the ring, it's no longer just a mere bout. It's become a lot more. Fifteen rounds that galvanizes the country, and for once, there is a semblance of national unity that no politician has achieved. Quite a remarkable feat for a man from humble beginnings. And he continues to inspire, as his story is far from over...

The remarkable speed Pacman is known for is impressive, with his fists zooming in with a flurry of punches. And he knows each punch he throws is for his family, his loyal followers, and pretty much the whole country. And he carries the full weight on his shoulders, knowing he's fighting for everyone. It's a story that continues to inspire people, a story that somehow motivates us to win our own battles.

Sensing my difficulty in getting a shot, Pacman seemed to intentionally slow down just a bit, and at the same time looking at me as if asking if the pace was all right.

I smile and nod, as Pacman continues to punch away without skipping a beat.

The thumping sound of the jabs beat with consistency, in a continuous rhythm, and this is supposed to be Pacman winding down before the next round of sessions with Coach Freddie Roach.

Skill, hard work, and pure heart. There is a sense of honesty in that, that success can still be gained the old-fashioned way. Though it may be harder, and no guarantee, it is comforting. 

Buboy, Pacman's long-time friend and trainer, shouts out the time, and Pacman gives it his all, pouring on everything.

After the session, long-time Coach Freddie Roach and Pacman's trainer, Buboy, carefully unlace his gloves after yet another intense workout.

The relationship between Coach Freddie Roach and Pacman is an extraordinary one, and the bond is evident as Coach Freddie Roach whispers advice.

AirAsia's CEO and founder, Tony Fernandes, formalizes the sponsorship agreement with Pacman with a handshake. Two icons, bound by a solid handshake. And AirAsia is now the official airline of Team Pacquiao. "We try to celebrate heroes, guys or girls who come from nowhere and make people's dreams come true," says Tony Fernandes. And when AirAsia's Airbus A320 takes off with Team Pacquiao on November 23 for Macau with the brand new livery, the hopes and dreams of a nation are with it.  

For more on the Air Asia and Team Pacquiao Sponsorship, see my post on my other blog here at

For more information, updates, cool deals and offers from Air Asia, visit their FB Page at

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