A hero’s welcome greeted boxing star Manny Pacquiao despite returning home without his welterweight title following a controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley last week in Las Vegas.
The iconic Filipino boxer hardly showed signs of bitterness upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport early Saturday morning via Philippine Airlines flight PR 103, and instead, displayed a positive aura when he met his supporters and members of the media at the presidential lounge of the airport.
Faith in God, according to the 33-year-old Pacquiao, helped him cope with the contentious loss to the undefeated American.
“Dito natin masusukat ’yung belief natin sa Panginoon. Yung faith natin masusukat thru good times or bad times,” said Pacquiao, who was greeted with banners that read ‘Welcome home, Manny, ang aming kampeon.’
Pacquiao went home without wife Jinkee and his children, who opted to stay in the US. The Sarangani province representative had to make a quick trip back home to assist his constituents who were badly hit by flash floods last week.
Accompanied by close friend and Filipino trainer Buboy Fernandez on his return trip, Pacquiao will stay in the country for five days, before flying back to the U.S. and shoot a Hollywood movie with Fil-Am comedian Rob Schneider.
A trip to the Holy Land is also scheduled for boxing's first family by early July.
Clad in a blue shirt with yellow jacket and jeans, Pacquiao later took some time to read Bible verses while having a light breakfast at the same airport lounge.
After about an hour, the entourage of the celebrated boxing figure proceeded to the Midas Hotel in Pasay City for a breakfast of Filipino food he shared with special guests, Atty. Felipe Gozon, chairman and CEO of GMA-7, and Jimmy Duavit, president and COO of the network.
Following a brief rest and getting refreshed, Pacquiao made his way to Quiapo church and heard Mass, a tradition he regularly observes every time he returns to the country after a title fight.