Filipinos fear a television black-out as they gather to watch local hero Manny Pacquiao defend his world welterweight title on Sunday and the fraying national power grid feels the strain. The National Grid Corp acknowledged that the electricity network, already subject to regular black-outs, could face difficulties as millions of Filipinos try to tune in for the bout against the Ghanaian challenger Joshua Clottey at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Pacquiao, who is seven-time world champion and current World Boxing Organisation welterweight king, is revered across the Philippines and has even launched a parallel political career - he is mounting a campaign for parliament. But with infrastructure tottering, power cuts have become common this year and many Filipinos fear they could miss the fight, due around noon Sunday (4am GMT). "The system may not be able to accommodate the anticipated rise in power demand on March 14, the day of the boxing match of Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey," the National Grid Corp said.
Experience shows that "demand increases by as much as 100 megawatts whenever Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao has a televised boxing fight" as television sets are switched on and shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants open early to show the fight, the corporation said in a statement. Manila and its surrounds were hit by rotating short-duration power cuts for the second day running today because of problems at three generating plants on the main island of Luzon, while a fourth plant ran out of fuel, the firm said.
The entire southern island of Mindanao, Pacquiao's home region, was 602 megawatts short of demand on Saturday because of drought depleting hydroelectricity plants. But Joe Zaldarriaga, a spokesman for Manila Electric Co, expressed hope that the main population centre would have enough supply so its 20 million-odd customers would be able to watch and enjoy the fight. "Basically, the demand on Sunday is much less compared to ordinary days," he told Manila radio station DZBB.
"Hopefully, the entire nation would be able to watch the National Fist tomorrow," he said, using Pacquiao's local moniker. *AFP