The prizefighter as rock star
World-boxing champion Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited debut concert at the Big Dome

The prizefighter as rock star

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - September 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The crowd goes wild. Breaking into a frenzy of jubilant cheers, the audience chants. “Man-ny! Man-ny! Man-ny!” Euphoria and excitement fill the air at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, as a play of lights highlights the solitary figure onstage.

As the band breaks out into the opening guitar riff for La Bamba, the lone figure moves further forward onstage, revealing the iconic prizefighter looking every inch a rock star in his dark suit and shades.

This was his big moment, and the 15,000-strong crowd loved every minute of it.

Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez

Twelve-time world-boxing champion Manny Pacquiao made his much-awaited debut on the concert stage last Sept. 1 at the Big Dome, in time with the equally-heralded launch of his very own crypto token, PAC Token.

The senator has been tapped as the very first global celebrity endorser by the Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX), whose mobile platforms utilizing blockchain technology aim to bring fans closer to their globally-acclaimed boxing superstar.

In more ways than one, his concert could also be considered a late victory celebration for his recent victory against undefeated American fighter Keith Thurman in Las Vegas last July 20, as well as a token of thanks for his millions of Pinoy fans.

In the company of acclaimed composer Lito Camo and his back-up singers, Pacquiao warmed up quickly and seemed at home on the concert stage as he lapped up the crowd’s thunderous roars.

From left: Arnold Vegafria, GCOX CEO Dr. Jeffrey Lin and Manny

As expected, the Pambansang Kamao’s concert repertoire wouldn’t be complete without his signature songs, Para Sa’Yo Ang Laban Na ‘To, Pagsubok and his favorite sentimental ditty, Sometimes When We Touch.

He even reprised the popular Juan Karlos Labajo hit, Buwan, to the delight of the millennials in the crowd who gamely sang along.

Among the show’s memorable highlights were his hugot-inducing duet with wife Jinkee, as well as his rendition of Pinoy folk icon Florante de Leon’s hit, Handog. Referencing the latter song with its moving lyrics, “Tatanda at lilipas din ako, ngunit mayroon awiting iiwanan sa inyong alaala,” millions of die-hard boxing fans will definitely remember him even if he’s way past his prime, simply because of his legendary feats.

There were also a couple of shadow play vignettes by El Gamma Penumbra, Asia’s Got Talent first season grand winner, one of which chronicled Pacquiao’s formative years.

Kimi Mugford

For his encore, Pacquiao blazed through a mash-up of Queen hits alongside his fellow performers: Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2018 Alyssa Muhlach and Miss Multinational Philippines 2018 Kimi Mugford, Asia’s Got Talent 2015 second runner-up Gerphil Flores and R&B Prince Kris Lawrence.

The crowd’s energy peaked to an emotional climax as Pacquiao and his stalwarts sang We Are The Champions, a very apt finale for an elite roster of world-class champions.

With the resounding success of his concert debut, Sen. Pacquiao has proven himself to be more than just “a hesitant prizefighter still trapped within his youth.” The question now looms: Will a sequel be in the works soon?

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