Limpag: The Pacman era

Mike T. Limpag

JINGO Quijano’s review of the Pacquiao vs. Barrera fight brought back some pleasant memories of that era. Though I was already in the sports beat at the time, the fight wasn’t that known and I was only reminded of it when an old boardmate dropped by and said he wanted to catch the fight.

So there we were, four or five guys, some just fresh out of college, watching the fight in a 12-inch TV and screaming ourselves hoarse. We all thought before the fight that Pacman didn’t have a chance against the legendary Mexican and boy there was never a chance that we were just too happy to be proven wrong. The result of the fight was all over the papers the next day and I think it was the Manila Standard that was the first to carry Pacquiao’s fight as front page banner, with the witty headline that I still remember up to this day, “Money Pacquiao earns, P19M.”

I was reminded of that headline when Pacquiao started earning in the billions and I’m sure the guy or gal who wrote that wanted to use it again.

A few months later, it was Pacman vs. Marquez and like the Barrera fight, I remember exactly where I was. I was at SM City, covering Smart’s Best of the Best taekwondo tournament and just like the Barrera fight, it was aired live on free TV, the last Pacman fight to be aired free sans five-minute commercials during the one-minute break between rounds on free TV.

A bored security guard, who was obviously a boxing fan, turned on one of the TVs of the stall he was guarding to the fight and I quickly went over it. Down went Marquez in the first round and he would do so again a few seconds later. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the third knockdown in the first round nor the rest of the fight. You see the screams over the first knockdown resulted in a few more people converging over the stall and when the second knockdown came, there was already a sizeable crowd that the guard, perhaps fearing a reprimand from his bosses, was forced to turn the TV off.

There was no need for that, of course, in the succeeding Pacquiao fights as the TV networks had wisened up and started offering Pacquiao fights on pay-per-view. Establishments not known for airing sports also began airing Pacquiao fights and even movie theaters got their money’s worth when they too started airing Pacquiao fights in the big screens.

Politicians, too, got in the act and held free viewings in sports complexes or other public venues in their barangays. The practice become so common that it became sort of an expected practice from them for every Pacman fight.

And of course, the fans who could afford it--and even some who couldn’t--started shelling out money for PPVs of their own. They weren’t cheap but some found a way. Neighbors chipped in so they could watch the fight in one house and over in the US, it sort of became a practice for friends to gather to watch a Pacquiao fight.

Those were the glory days of Pacman and in the eyes of fans, he couldn’t do anything wrong, even after that first botched attempt at a political seat.