It's no secret that Manny Pacquiao has been in Cebu lately training for his upcoming October fight with Marco Antonio Barrera. I read a report in the local newspaper that he's been spotted jogging early in the morning in Asiatown IT Park, where my office is. A few days ago I even saw a group of girls picnicking at 5AM in one of IT Park's grassy undeveloped lots, undoubtedly hoping to catch a glimpse of Manny making his early morning rounds (they were probably disappointed though, since it started raining a few minutes later).
So anyway, I was in Waterfront Hotel last night attending the opening of an art exhibit. I'm not some big art exhibit fanatic, but my girlfriend's sister was an exhibitor and the emcee of the program so I came along for a show of support and to partake in the free cocktails and bask in the aura of the elite.
Things were wrapping up and we were getting ready to leave... and there was Manny Pacquiao seated at one of the tables in the lobby restaurant. Just sitting there, as though he were a mortal man! He was having a conversation at the table with two women. One of them might have been his wife, I don't know, I wouldn't recognize her if I saw her, but she seemed the right age, I suppose.
If I were alone I would surely have kept my cool and abided by proper etiquette and good senses, but luckily I was amongst a group of giggly starstruck girls that only briefly hesitated to go over to Manny and ask to have our picture taken with him. He totally obliged... he should be used to it all by now, shouldn't he? So we all crowded around the table and had our picture taken with The People's Champ and his two unnamed companions. I need to remember to ask that girl who owned the camera to send me a copy of that photo.
After the picture was taken a few of us tossed him some awkward smiles and well-wishes, to which he smiled and nodded with equivalent (and deserved) awkwardness. And as the group scuttled away, I extended by hand to Manny for a handshake, because I knew in an instant that I would always regret it if I didn't. For a second he didn't notice me and I worried it wouldn't happen, but he did see me, and he did return the handshake. And I shook Manny Pacquiao's hand-- the hand that, with fingers clenched, becomes the fist that has laid waste to so many and made him a champion.
It was a moment of impropriety on our part, and a minor inconvenience for Manny, but totally worth it for the bragging rights.