When you think of famous Filipinos and sports, few can associate those two things together. Even an avid sports fan and writer will have trouble coming up with Filipinos in sports.
Enter Manny Pacquiao, a man who can unite a divided country with every punch and stride.
I first realized that Manny could become the boxer that he is now during the first fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, which resulted in a somewhat controversial draw.
Few people knew how special Manny was prior to that match, although he had fought and beaten another Mexican in Barrera via a TKO.
It was the match with Marquez that brought not only this Filipino but the whole Philippines buzzing with excitement. At that moment, whatever was going on in my life, I felt that everything was alright.
I didn't expect others to understand how we felt at that moment, because I knew that this type of greatness comes once in a lifetime and like myself, he was Filipino.
Had you asked Filipinos around the world who their favorite sports stars were, most names would probably come from the NBA. With Manny's ascension in boxing, many are putting his name at the top of their lists.
Although the match with Marquez ended in a draw, I knew that it was only the beginning. This was the start of something great, and Manny wouldn't let us down.
Manny's success as a boxer have not taken away the fact that he is a great person as well. Outside the ring, Manny has represented Filipinos with the type of class we have also come to admire.
He has not forgotten his roots and has always been kind to the fans who follow him worldwide. With the weight of millions of his countrymen and women on his back, Manny has continued to be the type of athlete many Filipinos have now try to emulate to become the best that they can be.