MACAU // Manny Pacquiao has pledged to visit the areas of the Philippines worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan in the next few days following his successful ring return.
The World Boxing Organisation (WBO) International welterweight title clash on Sunday was broadcast in four public areas in Tacloban to lift the spirits of residents who suffered the brunt of the super storm’s fury.
And congressman Pacquiao declared, after his comprehensive 12-round victory over Brandon Rios in Macau, that his priority was to visit the devastated city.
“I think it’s time. I promised them after the fight I will go into Tacloban to visit them,” he said.
Pacquiao said his camp were still working out details for him to travel to the capital of Leyte province, but he would be there in a matter of days.
“As soon as possible we will finalise what day, what date,” he said.
The super typhoon has left almost 7,000 dead and missing after its rampage through the central Philippines this month.
At the time Pacquiao was in training camp in General Santos City farther south, which escaped the brunt of the typhoon, and had to be talked out of leaving to help with the relief effort by his trainer Freddie Roach.
“It was very difficult for me, I felt so bad for what happened to everybody,” Pacquiao said on Sunday.
“It was the middle of my heaviest training in camp and I wanted to visit but I couldn’t.
“So I was just praying for them and sent my staff in congress and also my people in General Santos to bring them help and relief goods.
“This fight was for the families and the people affected by the typhoon – I am just happy that God answered my prayer.”
For a brief moment in Tacloban, those who lost their homes, their livelihoods and loved ones in the storm were able to forget their misery as they watched a free, live broadcast of Pacquiao’s stunning win.
“This is not about my comeback,” Pacquiao said immediately after the fight. “This is about my people’s comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy.
“To all the people and the families affected by the typhoon, I will see you there. I love you so much.”
* Agence France-Presse