A small private dinner was held in honor of Manny Pacquiao, courtesy of Fernando Zobel, at the latter's home in Forbes Park last June 6.
Zobel, who is presently the chair of the Habitat for Humanity Capital Campaign, shook hands and chatted with the new Habitat Hero Ambassador.
Said the business tycoon about Pacman, "For a person that has accomplished so much fame, he continues to be incredibly grounded, humble, down to earth, and very sincere. It is such an honor for the country's sports hero to lend his name and trust the work that Habitat has been doing all these years."
Manny now joins the ranks of Habitat Nation-Builder Ambassador Kris Aquino; Habitat Ambassadors Kim Atienza, Arnold Clavio, Karen Davila, Alex Eduque, Derek Ramsay, and Chris Tiu; and Habitat Youth Ambassadors Matteo Guidicelli and Cris Villonco.
Kim, who was present at the dinner, gave his "brother" a warm welcome, "Our family knew and supported Pacquiao noong hindi pa siya sikat, he hasn't changed at all."
BUILDING HOMES. "I Build Filipino pride" will be the boxing champ's campaign statement.
And the Saranggani representative gladly embraces his bigger role outside the ring, "Gusto ko i-knock-out ang kahirapan. Gusto ko tapusin ang kahirapan sa anumang paraan at magpatayo ng mga bahay na diretso talaga sa tao. Natutuwa ako sa magandang adhikain at trabaho ng Habitat. I assure you, you will always have my support."
For starters, the boxer-politician-host-singer has already committed to having a "Manny Pacquiao Build" in Saranggani.
"Bumili ako ng lupa, three hectares, nasa tabi ng kalsada pa iyon, gusto ko mapatayuan na natin 'yon ng mga bahay para sa mga mahihirap na residente sa amin," related Manny.
Habitat for Humanity has in turn pledged to raise the counterpart funds needed to build the homes.
PROMOTING VOLUNTEERISM. In addition, Manny promised that he himself will take the lead in building the homes brick by brick with thousands of volunteers, like the recent successful youth build in Calauan, Laguna, where over 1,600 students volunteered to paint and build 80 houses.
Habitat Youth Council president Isabel Martel Francisco and Youth Ambassador Alex Eduque promised to "rally behind Pacquiao by inviting youth volunteers."
SEALING THE AGREEMENT. Manny brought his wife Jinkee and tneir four kids, who had fun playing with Zobel's children.
That evening, a memorandum of agreement was signed, and sealed with a "song." Manny was game enough to sing with Concert Queen Pops Fernandez.
Habitat for Humanity Philippines started building homes in 1988 with General Santos City, Pacquiao's hometown, as one of its first communities. Since then, the organization has built communities nationwide, particularly in the southern provinces of Kidapawan, Midsayap, Davao del Sur, and Saranggani. Apart from houses, Habitat has also constructed classrooms in Mindanao.