March 7, 2011

Pacquiao sees bright future in Philippine sports

Pacquiao sees bright future in Philippine sports

MANILA, Philippines - In a show of magnanimity, the world's greatest boxer is stepping aside to give the spotlight to other Philippine sports heroes.

Instead of bragging about his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House, boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao paid tribute to the accomplished athletes who he believes deserve equal recognition.

''There is so much to Philippine sports than boxing,'' Pacquiao, 32, said Saturday night during the Philippine Sportswriters Association-Coca-Cola Awards Night, where he was the guest of honor and keynote speaker.

''Ako na mismo ang magsasabi, there is so much to Philippine sports than Manny Pacquiao. Ang gabing ito ay isa lamang na patunay na maraming magagaling na atletang Pilipino.''

The triumph of Francisco ''Django'' Bustamante in last year's World 9-Ball Championship and the gold medal achievements of Biboy Rivera, Rey Saludar and Dennis Orcollo in the 16th Asian Games are the living testament to that, Pacquiao said.

The four were feted during the two-hour special night as the 2010 Athletes of the Year by the country's oldest media organization for their heroic exploits in two major international competitions.

''Thank you for bringing pride and honor to our country. Because of you, I have more reasons to say that I am proud to be a Filipino,'' said Pacquiao who sported a gray suit with black trimmings and later on personally presented the Athlete of the Year trophies to all four awardees.

The man who never lost faith amid poverty and hardship to become an eight-division world champion sees a promising future for Philippine sports. But it won't come on a silver platter.

''Filipino athletes are world-class. (But) there is so much to be done to improve the condition of Philippine sports,'' said Pacquiao the first ever active Filipino athlete to address the PSA rite.

The night of glitz and glamour took an emotional turn when singer-actress Karylle serenaded on stage her grandfather Carlos Padilla Jr., a renowned international boxing referee who was one of the recipients of the lifetime achievement awards. The two later sang together with Karylle's mother, singer-actress Zsa Zsa Padilla.

After receiving the trophy, Padilla took the podium, narrated the greatest fights he refereed and boasted that, fittingly, his last duty as the third man on the ring was on a Pacquiao fight.

''Sa tanang buhay ko ng pag-re-referee, ngayon lang po ako nakatanggap ng award sa larangan ng palakasan. Kaya itinatangi ko po itong iginawad sa akin ng Philippine Sportswriters Association,'' said Padilla, who came here from Las Vegas, where he is now based, to personally receive his award.

Legendary coach Virgilio ''Baby'' Dalupan, 87, joined Padilla as the beneficiary of the Lifetime Achievement honor, while billiards icon Efren ''Bata'' Reyes and the late former FIDE president Florencio Campomanes were elevated into the PSA Hall of Fame.

Also sharing the limelight were the highly popular Philippine men's football team, which received the PSA Presidential Achievement Award and Azkals team manager Dan Palami, who was hailed as Executive of the Year.

The silver medalists in the last Asiad and the world champion men's poomsae team led the 14 personalities that were each given a major award, while the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines was named the National Sports Association of the Year in the affair also presented by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), San Miguel Corp., Samsung, AirAsia-ABL-Harbour Centre, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), Nihao Mineral Resources International Inc., Accel, and International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).

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