Vancouver’s Filipino community eagerly await Pacquiao’s match

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Boxing fans are indulging in the hype surrounding the fight planned for Saturday night. Dubbed as “the fight of the century,” Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will be facing each other at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and their fans will be watching from around the world.

Vancouver’s Filipino community in particular is spreading their excitement, and putting their full support behind Pacquiao ahead of the match.

With over 35,000 Filipinos in the city of Vancouver, according to the 2011 census, the community will be hosting events at bars, restaurants and in their homes to cheer on the 36-year-old boxer who has become a national idol.

Max’s Restaurant Cuisine of the Philippines, a staple in the community, will be showing the fight and is expecting a full house.

“We don’t typically show sports but for Filipinos all over the world, this is very exciting,” said Faye Nalicat, community relations for Max’s Restaurant.

Nalicat explains that Pacquiao’s prolific and successful boxing career brought a sense of national pride to Filipino diaspora around the world.

“He came from a very poor beginning, and for him to rise above that and come to this international fame, it makes us proud and gives us hope,” she said. “Many Filipinos leave the Philippines and come to Canada looking for a better life. Pacquiao gives us inspiration. We look up to him and how much he has achieved and how he still remains truly humble.”

Pacquiao’s fame doesn’t only stick to boxing — he’s involved in the acting and music recording industries, as well as politics by being elected as Congressman for the Sarangani province in the Philippines.

Max’s Restaurant will be bustling with Pacquiao supporters on Saturday night. Guests can still buy tickets at a cost of $25, which includes a free beer and appetizer. The fight will be broadcasted on two large projectors, in a space that can hold up to 200 people. As the largest Filipino restaurant in British Columbia, the chain, which originally started in the Philippines, now has over 120 locations worldwide and four in Canada.

Their newest location opened up in Scarborough, Ontario on Thursday, just in the nick of time for the fight.

Another hotspot for Pacquiao supporters is St. Patrick’s Church in Mount Pleasant. The church is frequented by a community that is 85 per cent Filipino, according to Father James Hughes, who is half Filipino as well.

“We’re hoping to gather around 500 to 600 people for this fight. It’s more of a social gathering,” Father Hughes said. “He’s the champion. He’s certainly put the country of the Philippines on the map.”

Father Hughes has hosted two of Pacquiao’s fights in the past, though the notoriety of this one claims its spot as the biggest one.

The match will be broadcasted in the gymnasium of the church with three big screens and plenty of Filipino beer.

The fight is expected to start around 9 p.m. PT, thought the broadcast will start at 6 p.m. Whether Pacquiao wins or loses, his impact on Filipinos around the world will remain a strong one.

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
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