Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Manny Pacquiao’s Swansong: A Philippine Tourism Attraction

Shortly after Bob Arum’s announcement of Manny Pacquiao’s world tour this year, the latter also disclosed his plan to fight his nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez here in the Philippines before the end of the year. In case Juan Manuel Marquez is agreeable to Pacquiao’s proposal, the fight would surely go down in boxing history like the Ali-Frazier’s Thrilla in Manila way back in 1975. Like that historic heavy weight title fight, the “final” match between old time rivals Pacquiao and Marquez if held in the country would have a tremendous impact on Philippine sports tourism.  

Here’s a short flashback on the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry. The two boxing greats, Pacquiao and Marquez, fought in four meetings starting with a controversial draw in their first encounter in 2004. Pacquiao then escaped with close decisions in their 2008 and 2011 rematches. Their 4th fight was held on December 8, 2012, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Márquez defeated Pacquiao by knockout with one second remaining in the sixth round. It was named Fight of the Year and Knockout of the Year by Ring Magazine.

But for the Pacquiao-Marquez to transpire, of course aside from a final nod from El Dinamita, Pacquiao needs Php2.5 billion to Php3.5 billion (or more or less $60 million) to bankroll the fight.  The SenaPac has asked Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo Teo for said amount. Tulfo Teo said the only thing that would make it possible for the Department of Tourism to shell out money is if Pacquiao faces a big name. If thing would fall into places, Pacquiao’s request will be granted and his only problem is Arum and the Top Rank supremo’s plan. That is if the Mexican could agree to the financial and other considerations that Pacquiao would offer. But let us remember, Arum said prior to Pacquaio’s 2015 mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr that he wanted to stage the PacMan’s farewell fight in the Philippines someday.

In December last year, the House Committee on Tourism approved a proposal to designate SenaPac as spokesperson for the tourism department’s campaign to promote Philippine attractions here and abroad. I go for the Pacquiao-Marquez 5 in Manila and it would be a sure fire hit, tourism-wise. Marciano Ragaza, Vice-Chair of the Philippine Travel Agencies Associations (PTAA) said that the fight “would have a bigger impact than Miss Universe.” Pacquiao wants the fight and Philippine tourism needs further global promotion. The question is this: Can tourism department afford the amount without hurting its budget or its coffer, without sacrificing its other programs?

If the fight is held in the Philippines there is also a big chance for Occidental Mindoro, specifically Sablayan town, to showcase its own tourism potentials. The respective tourism offices of said LGUs could find ways to find something attached to the event to attract sports tourists from around the globe who will be coming over. For sure, the DOT is open from proposals coming from local governments with regards to uplifting our tourism industry. Occidental Mindoro through Sablayan was host to first two professional fights of Manny Pacquiao which catapulted him to fame and to everything what he is now.

But between Top Rank and Philippine Tourism to be placed in extra advantageous gain, I go for the latter…


(Photo: Fightsaga .com)