MANNY Pacquiao has pledged to give a P5-million cash incentive to the athlete who can give the country its first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The eight-division world boxing champion made the pledge after the turnover of his sports memorabilia to the Philippine Sports Museum at the Philsports Arena on Friday afternoon.
"Ang pledge ko pagka next year may nag-gold (sa Olympics), limang milyon kahit anong sport," said the fighting congressman from Saranggani province.
The country has yet to win a gold in the quadrennial meet and Pacquiao's incentive could be an added motivation for Filipino athletes to try and bring home the bacon.
The closes the Philippines got to winning a gold was through boxers Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco and the late Anthony Villanueva. Both Velasco (1996 Atlanta) and Villanueva (1964 Tokyo) settled for silver medals.
"Wala pa tayong gold, ano?" Pacquiao asked mediamen. "Next year pa lang."
Pacquiao, who turned to boxing at a young age to bring food on the family table, gave out words of encouragement to the athletes.
He said to be a winner, one has to think like a winner.
“Ang masasabi ko sa kanila para magkaroon sila ng encouragement and focus, kailangan 'yung determination mo is to always think positive,” he said.
“'Wag ka mag-iisip na hindi ko kaya, hanggang dito lang kasi ako. Hindi pwede (na ganoon),” the 36-year-old boxing superstar added.
“Ano kasi 'yun eh that's the mind of defeat and mind of a loser, when you say 'ah hanggang dito lang ako, hanggang dito lang ang kaya ko,'" he continued.
During the program, Pacquiao raffled off P10,000 to 10 lucky winners among those in attendance.