Freeman Cebu Sports

Paclanders with a heart

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — They all live in Pacland country.

Established by website developer and boxing expert Dong Secuya in 2003 through mannypacquiao.ph that is now philboxing.com, its online residents call themselves Paclanders.

Drawing members from all over the country and as far as California and Las Vegas, they’re a group of boxing aficionados deeply adoring and rooting for their ultimate idol, Pinoy ring legend Manny Pacquiao.

They engage in a seemingly endless talk about varying topics pertaining to the so-called ‘sweet science’ in their group chat.

But their favorite subject matter of course is the lone eight-division world champion in history.

Pacquiao is a way of life for them, so to speak.

“Through the years, we built genuine friendship to one another. Sharing one common interest - love and support for Pac-Man,” said Professional Boxing Officials (PBO)-Central Visayas President Arnie Najera, one of Pacland’s founding members.

In their nearly two decades of existence, the fellowship of Paclanders has been put to a test countless times but they remain solid and intact until now.

Apart from the sport they all love, the other reason for their rock-solid togetherness is their common desire to help others in need.

They were able to raise funds for the Bicol Volunteer Relief Drive when Mayon Volcano erupted in 2006. In that same year, they pooled their resources to shell out monetary aid to the victims of fires that razed several houses in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City.

Two years later, they initiated the Davao Paclander Medical Assistance. In 2013, they provided hospitalization to one of their followers Mario Sasutil.

“We also had individual assistance/fund raising drives for our fellow Paclanders, those who suffer life crisis like fire or typhoon victims, or even hospitalization problems,” shared Najera.

In these trying times, the charitable work of the Paclanders comes to light again after they handed out  financial assistance to former  Cebuano boxer Z Gorres just a few days ago.

Najera said he was saddened after reading an article from a local tabloid about the plight of Gorres, formerly one of ALA Gym’s top fighters who suffered a career-ending injury during his match against Luis Melendez on November 13, 2009 at the Mandalay Bay House of Blues in Las Vegas.

After being declared the winner by a 10-round unanimous decision, Gorres suddenly collapsed while waving the Philippine flag. Instead of celebration, fear and anxiety gripped the rest of his team.

Gorres was stretchered out of the ring and was rushed to the hospital where doctors, after a battery of tests, found out he suffered a subdural hematoma and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve the swelling of the brain.

Gorres survived the life-threatening ordeal but his life was never the same again.

Najera said he was particularly moved by the story that Gorres thrived only in ‘lugaw’ (rice porridge) each day with no means of income during these hard times after his carinderia/eatery business that his family rely on was shut down by Covid-19..

“It was then that I thought of my old pals at Pacland. I know for a fact that they are one group that’s not stingy on giving. I contacted some Pacland friends and immediately they told me to create a group chat for such purpose. Inside the GC, the exchanges went like wild. Immediately, pledges were made and some sent cash through online bank transfer,” said Najera.

“That was May 30. I decided to run the activity for a week to give chance to those who are away to send their share. We’re just coming from more than two months of lockdown and money is not easy and to give so generously is just amazing.” 

Najera said they consider Gorres as a friend of Pacland even before as he and the rest of the ALA Boys are always present during their EBs (eyeballs) whenever Pacquiao fights. That is one of the reasons we see Gorres as one of their own.

Najera said he takes pride of their group because even if they have been inactive for quite some time now but they’re always on call in terms of reaching out to the needy ones.

“They’ve shown that what we have shared in the forums for almost 20 years now now become priceless friendships. We all know times are hard now. We are not rich, but we can still spare just to help a friend in dire times,” said Najera.

Last Saturday, Najera and his fellow Paclanders William Lambatan, Roy Santiago and Levi Deresas personally gave the P37,000 cash they generated to help Gorres cope with the crisis.

“We want to help Z Gorres get back with his carinderia business,” said Najera. “This assistance is a continuing manifestation of our group’s love and passion for boxing. It is hard for us to see former boxers who, once in their lives we cheered on and we rooted for, become helpless and in need. It’s our way of giving back to them.”

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