Only a few stars descended from the heavens at last Monday night’s 29th birthday party of People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao at the Family Country Hotel and Convention Center here in GenSan. Compared to his celebration last year when he was still a Kapamilya, I did not see a single GMA-7 bigwig in attendance this time.
Last year, ABS-CBN’s top honchos Gabby Lopez, Charo Santos were here. Plus they shot a TV special on the same day at the Lagao Gym (where they built a set worth P600,000) as a thanksgiving special of sorts which they showed on delayed telecast a week after.
As coordinator for that tv event which gave me full access to the venue and a ringside view of the happenings, they were all there right in front of me, the nation’s tv idols performing and paying tribute to the boxing champ – my fave, Angelica Panganiban (for her sexy pix, click here), Jason Abalos, Bayani Agbayani, Dominick Ochoa, Smokey Manaloto, Bituin Escalante, Kitkat and Andrew E, among others.
Abs-Cbn stars at their opening number for the taping of “Alay ni Idol sa Bayan” Special at GenSan’s Lagao Gym, last year, Dec. 17, 2006 where the stage and set alone costs P600,000.
They were joined on stage later by former Manila mayoralty aspirant Ali Atienza and former Manila congressman Miles Roces, coach Freddie Roach and other boxing personalities. Total bill for the whole TV special thing according to some ABS-CBN insiders– P6 million!
Manny joined & greeted onstage by his well-wishers from Manila at the taping of his 28th bday special at the Lagao Gym, GenSan last 2006.
At his mansion in the same barangay where the party is being held were the rest of his big-time guests including Governor Chavit Singson, Wilson Tieng of Solar Sports, San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia. Local personalities like GenSan Mayor Jun Acharon and a host of other business and political figures were also there. Very much visible at all four corners of the compound was a very busy and frantic Dyan Castillejo with co-host Marc Nelson who were taping the whole thing for Sports Unlimited.
Fast forward one year after, exactly the same day….
At his 29th bash last Monday… Manny is seated between (L-R) mother Dionisia, wife Jinky and Bob Arum.
Venue this time was at the garden of the more modest Family Country Hotel and Convention Center owned by Pacman’s wedding godfather and mentor, ABAP Gensan Chairman Rey Golingan.
Some of the visitors who were here last year were back: Governor Chavit, Mayor Leonardia and Freddie Roach joined this time by the likes of Amay Bisaya and Long Mejia. And oh yes, I did spot Bob Arum!
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Amay Bisaya & former Ilocos Governor Chavit Signson
As for Kapuso Stars, I only saw Kyla who performed with Nyoy Volante and comebacking Andrew E (who again brought the house down just like last year).
Weird but, no major GMA executive was around. They only compensated this with the viewing of a pitiful video footage of taped birthday greetings from kapuso stars on a widescreen which was too small for such a large gathering that people had to flock closer to it including Manny.
Manny watching the GMA-7 Video Tribute to him.
Nonetheless, food (including a roasted calf and eat-all-you-can sashimi from two 50-kg giant tuna) and drinks overflowed. (I’ve never seen soooo much food at a party my whole life.)
A 15-minute fireworks display wowed the guests, courtesy of Manny’s wife, Jinky. And by night’s end, almost everyone had their chance to have their picture taken with the gracious champ and some of his few guest-celebrities.
Comparing how the two channels participated in Manny’s birthday celebrations in his hometown GenSan, I only have one thing to ask:
DID MANNY MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION IN MOVING FROM ABS-CBN TO GMA?