YES! was able to catch the People's Champ, Manny Pacquiao, when he made a brief appearance at the Christmas party of the staff and production crew of his GMA-7 show, Pinoy Records (PR), on December 23, 2008.
The Pacman and his three kids—Michael, 8; Jimwell, 9; and Princess, 3—were scheduled to leave later that day for Los Angeles, where his wife Jinkee was due to give birth. However, he had to cancel their flight because Princess's yaya failed to get her U.S. visa in time. "Kawawa naman ako kung ako pa magkarga," he told YES! in a brief interview. The Pacquiao family left the next day, December 24, and made it to Jinkee's side by Christmas eve, L.A. time.
The one-day delay in his flight left us wondering why, despite the number of personnel and pseudo managers surrounding him, one simple detail in a busy and famous man's life was left unnoticed. Shouldn't someone have been overseeing things like this for the good-natured world champ?
Manny nearly missed celebrating Christmas with his wife Jinkee, who was due to give birth at any time to their fourth child.
Still, the Pacman, who is as mild-mannered in person as he is feisty in the boxing ring, did not let the unfortunate event dampen his spirit. Instead, he shifted into party mode and made his PR staff and crew ultra happy.
How? The best way Manny knows how—by shelling out money. That night, he dispensed P700,000 as raffle prizes.
His generosity is indeed legendary. He gave away P35 million worth of tickets for his December 6 fight with Oscar Dela Hoya. He distributed a total of P3.6 million to 24 out 29 staff members who made it to his "weight-ing game" challenge in Los Angeles, where he challenged his staff members to lose at least 10 pounds in two weeks. And he spent over P3 million for his one-night birthday bash last December 18.
He sees nothing wrong in these handouts. Besides, he says he's now more knowledgeable in managing his hard-earned money.
"Kaya nga ako nag-aaral ngayon, para pagdating ng panahon na mag-graduate, makatapos naman ng pag-aaral ko, magamit ko 'yong pinag-aralan ko sa aking kinitang pera. Ako mismo ang magma-manage ng pera ko."
Indeed, Manny is hell-bent on finishing his Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSBA) course at the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, where he was able to work out a special arrangement that grants him one-on-one lessons whenever he's in his hometown. In the rare times when he's free, he makes sure he attends to his schooling diligently, Mondays to Fridays.
Moreover, his generosity, as everyone knows, isn't limited to fun-generating activities. A lot of his money is spent on socio-civic charities, not to mention individuals who come to him directly for help.
Just last December 2008, he donated an ambulance, firetruck, and a school bus to the local government of GenSan. He has also put up an oncology center in Quezon City.
Oncology is defined as the branch of medicine devoted to the study, treatment, and cure of cancer. "Para sa mga may sakit na cancer dito sa Metro Manila," Manny says of the oncology center. "Para kasing maraming nagkakasakit sa atin na cancer, 'tapos pilahan sa pagamutan. E, bago ma-chemo, siguro maghintay muna ng tatlong buwan. E, malala na 'yong cancer."
ACTS OF CHARITY. Manny is hoping that his acts of charity won't ever be misconstrued.
"Alam mo, sinabi ko, gagawin ko ang aking magawa para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan. Walang halong pulitika ito, kundi taospuso akong tutulong sa abot ng aking mamakaya. Kasi, 'yong na-achieve natin sa boxing e nandoon na. 'Binigay ng Panginoon. So, isukli mo naman, i-share mo naman, 'yong karangalan na ibinigay sa 'yo ng Panginoon."
The main inspiration behind his acts of charity, he says, comes from the plain and simple fact that, he, too, was once poor and in need.
"Galing ako sa mahirap, at naintindihan ko ang mga nararamdaman ng mga taong naghihirap. At siguro, pasalamatan ko naman ang Panginoon at hinihiling ko sa Kanya na gamitin Niya ako para makatulong sa mga kababayan natin, sa mga nangangailangan ng tulong."
People who are genuinely concerned about Manny are worried that his can't-say-no attitude may backfire on him one day. One of those people is his coach and trainer, Freddie Roach.
In an interview with Times Online dated December 14, 2008, Roach said: "I have seen Manny give away money and food parcels to people who arrive at his home in their dozens, and I'm genuinely afraid that he could end up giving away all of his money. He has a very generous spirit, he cares deeply about his country and he wants to make it better for the people. He ran for Congress and got defeated only because the people want to see him fighting still—even his opponent admitted this—and one day he'll run for President, and he will probably win."
A devout Roman Catholic, Manny believes everything he does is guided by God. That would include his eventual second plunge into Philippine politics, which, although he hates talking about it now in the local press, is really all mapped out.
He said so himself in the December 2008 issue of Reader's Digest (Asian Edition), where he admitted to editor-in-chief Jim Plouffe that he wants to be a congressman.
The Filipino people "idolize me in boxing," he was quoted as saying. "I want them to idolize me in terms of public service. [I believe in] social accountability. I can change the system. I'm not like some politicians who can be corrupt. I have money and I am satisfied with what I have earned from bloody work like boxing. What I want to do is bring government money back to the poor people."
FOR THE KIDS. Manny's climb to boxing superstardom wasn't easy. No uphill climb ever is. He tells YES! he started training for boxing at age 12, right after he quit grade school. Back then, he saw boxing as a way to help his single mother raise all her six children. His take-home boxing fee of P50 per fight, along with income from all sorts of jobs, as painter, welder, tailor assistant, and flower garland vendor during Sundays, helped in a lot of ways.
In 1994, at age 16, he started fighting professionally. But his big break came only in 2001, when he won—by technical knockout—in his title fight with International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight champion Lehlohonolo Ledwada of South Africa at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He was able to defend this title eight times.
Several wins later, Manny is now known all over the world by such monickers as Pacman, Pambansang Kamao, People's Champ, and the Mexicutioner (because many of his victims were Mexicans or Mexican-Americans).
And the ring titles he has won are nothing if not prestigious—current WBC lightweight champion, former WBC super featherweight champion, former IBF super bantamweight champion, former WBC flyweight champion, and Ring Magazine's featherweight and super featherweight champion.
The world of boxing, much like gambling, revolves around money. And Manny, hailed as today's number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world, surely has a lot of it.
No less than the online edition of the New York Times, in a posting dated April 14, 2007, reported that Pacquiao earns "about $20 million a year, including endorsements."
Financemanila.net, in an entry dated December 12, 2008, estimated Manny's two-year earnings at $21 million, which comes up to "1 billion Philippine pesos at an exchange rate of 49:1$!"
Here's a blow-by-blow account of Manny's recent earnings as a boxer: January 2006 against Erik Morales, $2 million; July 2006 against Oscar Larios, $1 million; November 2006 against Erik Morales, $3 million; April 2007 against Jorge Solis, $2 million; October 2007 against Marco Barrera, $2 million; and December 2008 against Oscar de la Hoya, $11 million.
By any standard, Manny is super-rich!
But he knows that his love affair with boxing, his main source of income, may soon come to an end—or at least take a different form.
After his scheduled fight with Britain's Ricky Hutton in May 2009, Manny says, he might go into just a few more fights, and then he would retire.
"Siguro, konting fight na lang ako," he tells YES! "Alam mo, na-achieve ko na lahat ng kailangan ko sa boxing... Sila naman ang naghamon sa akin, so ako, ilang fight na lang, okey na ako. Kasi, siyempre, matagal na ako sa boxing, e-twelve years old pa ako hanggang ngayon, di ba? Biro mo ilang taon na ako? Eighteen years na ako sa boxing."
That explains why Manny is now busy building his business empire and, along with it, the steady fortress that will secure his children's future.
Besides acquiring property and huge parcels of land in his hometown, GenSan, Manny is also buying or building property in Metro Manila.
"Sa GenSan, apat ang bahay ko doon," he clarifies. "'Yong mansion lang ang nakikita ng tao. 'Tapos, meron akong building doon. Dito naman sa Manila, meron akong bahay sa Parañaque [BF Homes], saka sa Ortigas [a townhouse unit]."
One of Manny's close associates reveals that he's presently building a seven-story commercial edifice in Sampaloc, Manila. Plus, he's the co-owner of a high-end resort in Boracay, known as the Boracay West Cove.
His real-estate buying spree has not been confined to the Philippines. In Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, he recently bought a new house-and-lot, where the Pacquiao family reportedly spent Christmas 2008. "Para may natitirhan naman sila [pamilya], pag nandoon sila o pag nagbabakasyon kami," Manny says of the Beverly Hills residence. He already owns a nine-door apartment in another part of L.A.
Manny remains a simple man despite his wealth, and he says all of his investments are for his children.
"Ako kasi, basta may bahay, okey na," he smiles. "Kahit saan, puwede akong tumira. Kahit sa maliit na bahay na kubo-kubo, walang problema. Sanay ako sa buhay-mahirap, e. Kaya lang, 'yong mga anak ko, namulat na sila sa masarap na buhay. So, kailangan ko silang paghandaan, para hindi sila mahirapan paglaki, pagdating ng panahon."
That can mean only one thing—no boxing for any of his kids.
"Ayaw ko," he stresses. "Hindi sila mahilig. Saka ayaw ko talaga. Mahirap. Ayaw kong danasin nila ito."