Philippines abuzz with ‘Pacmania’

As his life story is playing in movie houses across the country of 100-million people, 'Pacman' – as he is affectionately referred – can be seen on postage stamps, shirts and dolls.

"The mood is upbeat. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Lucky Blanco, a film producer from Manila, told AFP on Monday.

Blanco is a co-producer of the film Kid Kulafu, which is currently showing in theatres across the country and helps set the scene for the richest fight in the history of boxing.

In a country where approximately a quarter of the population struggle with passive poverty, the 36-year-old Pacquiao is something of a role model for the  masses, showing that it is possible to succeed irrespective of the difficulties you face.

Kid Kulafu tells of high school drop-out who became one of the world's richest sportsmen after spending years on the streets selling doughnuts and stacking shelves.

After his success, a Manila television network gave the southpaw the name, The National Fist.

The May 2 between Pacquiao and Mayweather takes place on a Sunday morning in the Philippines and millions of viewers in the country are expected to wear Pacman paraphernalia while cheering on their idol.

In shops, various items laced with the Pacquiao brand are flying off the shelves, including $565 vinyl dolls of the eight-division world champion fighting Disney character Mickey Mouse, 68 boxing gloves signed by Pacman himself, T-shirts and baseball caps.

"On fight day everyone wants to be seen wearing something that will symbolise their support," the manager of a Pacquiao-owned Team Pacquiao memorabilia shop in Manila, Joy Saransate.

The private sector isn't alone in being swept up by Pacmania, with the national postal authority releasing half a million stamps of a fighting Pacquiao.

"This… is a fitting tribute to his exceptional character and ability that truly unites the nation whenever he fights," postmaster-general Josie de la Cruz said. 

Last week, Pacquiao released a video last week of a new song, I Will Fight for the Philippines, which will be playing during his entrance to the ring on May 2.

Although the fight will be broadcast on pay-per-view and free television on a slightly-delayed basis, most Filipinos prefer to watch the fight in public places, including restaurants, bars, gyms and parks.

One popular Italian restaurant chain in Manila is currently taking reservations at $16 each on the day of the fight.

"Pacquiao's fights always pack them in, but this time we expect even more people to come because of the quality of the opponent," restaurant manager Hershey Ebalo said. 

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