Pacquiao a standout in pack of VIPs

World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao turned up at Manila Cathedral at past midnight on Monday, joining the Who’s Who and the ordinary folk who were condoling with the bereaved family of former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

Pacquiao surprised the mourners when he arrived with a coterie of friends led by former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was then busy thanking the people from all walks of life who had come to pay their last respects to his mother, but Pacquiao managed to find the senator and convey his condolences in short sentences.

Cameras clicked, and then the boxing champion quickly disappeared.

For a moment, Pacquiao’s lightning visit at the wake dwarfed the presence of lawmakers—past and present—governors and other local officials, singers, veteran and up-and-coming actors, among others, who spent time at the wake inside the cathedral.

Outside, the line of mourners stretched for about two kilometers.

Volunteers handed them bottles of mineral water as they slowly walked past the pink fences set up around the cathedral. Coffee, juices and food were in abundance.

Politics and show biz

Some of the big names seen at the wake on Monday night and early Tuesday were former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and wife Audrey, Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Ace Barbers, and Representatives Abraham “Baham” Mitra, Teofisto Guingona III, Darlene Antonino-Custodio, Alfonso Umali and Rodito Albano, and the latter’s brother Tonypet.

San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and show biz personalities Annabelle Rama, Eddie Gutierrez, Ara Mina, Ma. Isabel Lopez and singer Mystica were present.

Also there were Cecile Mitra, the widow of Speaker Ramon V. Mitra, and world bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno.

TV hosts and talent managers along with their wards were likewise spotted.

His generation’s savior

Baham Mitra said he was growing up while his father, the late Speaker Mitra, and Aquino’s husband Ninoy Aquino were fighting Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

“We were born under Marcos. In a sense, Cory was the savior of our generation,” Mitra said.

He added: “Without her, we would have lived long with Marcos … until his death. So we have enjoyed our freedoms—being able to study well, speak freely and live peacefully.


“It’s the great sacrifice. She did not want to run at all. [She had] no interest in politics and was just serving coffee to politicians when Ninoy was meeting with opposition leaders at their house on Times Street in Quezon City.”

Barbers said the “overwhelming outpouring of support” for Aquino proved that she was not only the icon of democracy in Asia, but also “an example of a faithful public servant and leader, and a loving mother who did not rely on her charisma but her outstanding performance.”

He said the emotional crowd that filled Ayala Avenue on Monday while Aquino’s flag-draped casket was borne on a flatbed truck to Manila Cathedral showed that “people have not forgotten Cory.”

“It manifests the love of the Filipinos not just for Cory but for what Cory represents,” Barbers said. (

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