MANILA, Philippines -- Thousands of Marinduqueños braved the searing heat of the sun and hunger just to watch Manny Pacquiao's fight.
Eager Pacquiao fans even trooped to the plaza in Sta. Cruz town as early as 7 a.m. just to have the best seats. The free viewing of the fight was sponsored by a local politician.
By 10 a.m., around 2,000 fans converged in the plaza. Despite the heat and hunger, most of the excited fans refused to budge from their seats to take lunch.
Jose Ramos, 57, from the neaighboring Torrijos town, said he went to the plaza early to get hold of a promotional VCD of previous Pacquiao fights given away for free for the early viewers.
Edmar Rey, an avid Pacquiao fan, remarked that as soon as Pacquiao floored Cotto in the middle rounds, he knew that the fight was over.
The fight was shown live for free in the town plazas of all the six towns of Marinduque.
In Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro, viewers mocked Cotto as a "runner," not a boxer.
“Cotto is not a boxer but a runner,” said Inzo Maula, an enterpreneur from Bulalacao town in Oriental Mindoro.
The live coverage of Pacquiao's fight was sponsored by politicians in the province.
At the provincial jail, all inmates, estimated at 300, were focused on the fight.
There were shouting and hugging when Manny won, said prison guard Willy Chan.
In Los Baños, Laguna, the streets were almost totally cleared even hours before the start of the bout as the residents here were glued to the telecast.
Businessman Ping Garcia, who watched the fight via live streaming, said, “Discipline, dedication and talent did it for Pacman.
Dwight Jason Ronan, 22, said the fight was not as exciting as Pacquiao’s previous fights.
He added he wanted to see more action and drama on the fight.
University of the Philippines student Jehboy Bagalihog, 20, said he did not care much about this fight.“I don’t see its impact on our lives. What can we get after that win?”
Bagalihog said some people might have died out of sheer excitement.
In Cabuyao town, also in Laguna, the crowd cheered for Pacquiao since the national anthem opened Sunday's boxing match and jeered at Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto's bloodied face every time it was flashed on the screen.
“Magaling (Great)! This is one of the best fights I've seen, the other one was his fight against (Ricky) Hatton. Either way, what's important is he won,” said Victor Villano, 58, who has been following Pacquiao's fights.
“Pacquiao and even Aling Dionisia (Pacquiao's mother), will be richer,” said Elvie Bibal.
A live feed of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight was shown at the St. Vincent Academy, Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna.
It drew hundreds of residents to the school's gymnasium, even those from the flooded areas of the town.
Dr. Claire Reyta, who was with the Laguna Chapter of Red Cross conducting a bloodletting activity, said she only watched boxing when Pacquiao hit the ring.
In Cavite, resident Xyzie Ybanes, 50, said about a thousand watched the live screening of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight at the rooftop of the town market in Noveleta.
Local politicians sponsored the screening of the fight.
In Sta. Cruz, Laguna, the presence of relief goods in the covered court in Barangay Poblacion prevented the regular free screening of the bout, said town Mayor Ariel Magcalas.
He said they usually put up television sets at the four corners of the court but were not able to do so because the space was occupied by relief goods, including sacks of rice kept for distribution to the typhoon victims.
Nineteen thousand families were affected by Ondoy and Santi in September and October with several villages remaining under floodwater, said Magcalas.
The mayor, however, believed that even in such a dire situation, residents would still find ways to view the boxing match.
He said there was free screening of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight at the Arjem cockpit arena in Barangay Bubukal, but this one was sponsored by Laguna 4th district Rep. Egay San Luis.
Naga City Legal Officer Angel Ojastro III: “Pacquiao did not defeat Cotto, he destroyed him. As stated by Shane Mosley, Pacquiao is the Bruce Lee of boxing. He is revolutionizing boxing the way Bruce Lee revolutionized [other forms] of martial arts. Pacquiao has changed fundamental concepts of boxing.”
Fr. Wilmer Joseph Tria, priest, Archdiocese of Caceres: “It reflects Philippine elections: bet, watch, go home. No real participation, no genuine democracy.”
Fr. Norberto Eyuli, director, Socio-Pastoral Action Center, Archdiocese of Daet: “Win or lose Pacquiao, it's our pride.”
Kristoffer Sychay, coffee shop owner, Beanbag Coffee Naga: “It's a prelude to the much anticipated Pacquiao-Mayweather fight of the decade.”
John Concepcion, spokesperson Karapatan-Bicol: “I want Pacquiao to win. He's the pride of the Filipinos. What I would not want is for traditional politicians to use him (Pacquiao) to advance their interests, especially those who belong to the Arroyo administration.”
Reports from Gerald Gene Querubin, Donna Virola, Karen Lapitan, Maricar Cinco and Jonas Cabiles Soltes, Inquirer Southern Luzon