After finishing off Mexican fighter Marco Antonio Barrera last October 6, Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao now finds himself in a different battle—this time against showbiz intrigues, the issue of politicking, and a couple of verbal assaults coming from veteran news anchor Korina Sanchez.
SNUBBING MANILA? Many are accustomed to seeing a Manny Pacquiao parade along the busy streets of Manila after every victory. In fact, it is a given that Pacquiao's itinerary upon return always includes a stopover at the country's capital.
Not this time.
According to reports, Manny allegedly snubbed the preparations done by the Mañilenos as a tribute to his heroic ring exploits against the legendary Mexican boxer. Critics felt that the General Santos native opted to skip Manila because his ardent supporter and good friend, former Mayor Lito Atienza, was no longer holding office and that Pacquiao is not particularly fond of incumbent mayor, Alfredo Lim.
This theory was even bolstered when Manny paid a courtesy visit to Atienza, who is now at the helm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), last October 11, Thursday.
"Secretary Lito Atienza is scheduled to host a heartwarming welcome party as it rolls out the red carpet to honor the homecoming of a boxing champion," read a statement issued by the DENR dated October 10, 2007.
In an interview aired yesterday, October 14, in Showbiz Central, the Filipino prizefighter said that he was not aware that a Manila motorcade was being prepared in his honor upon his return from the United States.
"Alam mo, ako man hinihintay ko din 'yong tawag nila, e. Hindi talaga sila tumawag sa akin. Bigla na lang ako na-surprise na sinabi nila na inisnab ko 'yong paghahanda nila," said Manny to Showbiz Central host John "Sweet" Lapus.
"Actually, wala naman silang ipinaalam sa akin. Ang totoo niyan, ba't ko naman iisnabin 'yong paghahanda nila? Kasi lahat ‘yan pinagbibigyan ko ‘yan. Naghanda ba talaga sila? Wala naman," he added.
Manny's statement, of course, contradicts initial reports saying that Mayor Alfredo Lim received a text message coming from Manny's business manager, Eric Pineda, informing him as well as the other officials that the WBC international super featherweight champion will not grace the planned motorcade because of a prior commitment.
To contest the claims made by Pacquiao's camp, Manila City Administrator Jesus Mari Marzan reportedly even showed ABS-CBN a furnished copy of the proposed parade route. Preparations for the celebration allegedly took place immediately after Manny's conquest of Barrera.
For his part, Manny expressed sadness that the people of Manila weren't able to watch his fight. According to Manny, he was perplexed on why the local officials scrapped off the practice of setting up a huge screen to enable the less-privileged to witness the match for free.
"Ako'y nalulungkot dahil hindi nila napanood, e...‘yon lang ang kaligayahan ng mga tao e," he reasoned out.
ARA MINA. Even before Manny left for the States to resume his training in preparation for the Barrera duel, there were rumors circulating around town that he is carrying an illicit affair with sexy actress Ara Mina, who incidentally is being paired with him in an upcoming movie.
Aside from the alleged affair, there was also this rumor saying that Manny paid for Ara's new house and even bought her a new car.
"May movie lang kami," answered Manny, downplaying the issue while at the same time implying that the rumors were all fabricated.
"Alam n'yo na pag may ganyan may mga intri-intriga," smiled Manny before shifting his attention to his wife Jinky, who was seated beside him during the interview. "Pasalamat naman ako sa asawa ko na talagang mahaba 'yong pagpasensiya niya and naiintindihan niya."
FEUD WITH KORINA. But Manny's toughest battle outside the ring is reserved for popular TV news anchor Korina Sanchez.
In her morning radio news program with Ted Failon, Korina reportedly threw out a litany of diatribes against the Pinoy boxer last October 12.
Apparently, Korina's ire was triggered by the series of text messages they received that day coming from the Manileños who were obviously disappointed by Manny's non-show at the supposed parade.
Sympathizing with the listeners, the feisty anchorwoman reportedly blew her top. She revealed that Manny allegedly attempted to ease out a reporter from his job for a news item Manny didn't like at the height of the election campaign early this year.
"Tungkol ‘yon sa isang dokumentong nakuha ng reporter na bagsak si Manny sa survey, malaki ang kalamangan sa kanya ni Congresswoman Darlene Antonino-Custodio," Korina reportedly announced.
"Ibinalita ‘yon ng reporter, nagalit si Manny, sinisiraan daw siya nung reporter. Walang paninira dun dahil galing naman sa GenSan ang dokumento, pero para mapagbigyan ang kampo ni Manny, hinintay niya ang ipadadalang survey raw ni Manny mula sa kanilang kampo," she added.
According to Korina, Manny's camp failed to present a document indicating a different result.
Korina further added: "Aba, itong si Manny Pacquiao, gustong ipatanggal ang reporter sa kanyang trabaho! Wala raw utang na loob ang reporter na ‘yon, dahil anytime siyang gustong interbyuhin, e, pinagbibigyan niya naman ang reporter.
"I agree that Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer that the Philippines has ever produced, pero si Manny rin ang Pilipinong boksingerong mayabang, arogante, at madaling nadala ng kanyang tagumpay."
After venting her ire, the radio show was said to be plagued with phone calls coming from the listeners, demanding the real identity of the aggrieved reporter. Korina, however, was defiant all throughout and refused to name the reporter.
Meanwhile, a veteran showbiz reporter courageously wrote in her column yesterday, October 14, that the lady reporter in question was Korina Sanchez herself.
MANNY'S REPLY. Showbiz Central also asked Manny about the said issue and his tiff with Korina which threatens to be an explosive one.
"Hindi ko alam kung bakit mainit ang dugo niya sa akin, e, wala naman akong ginawang masama," said Manny in a separate taped interview.
"Hindi naman ako nang-agrabyado ng tao. Hindi naman ako nanloko ng tao... hindi ko alam kung bakit sila magalit sa akin," the southpaw boxer added in a controlled tone.