Pacquiao ditches Catholic mass for Christian service
MANILA, Philippines - It's one of his main pre-fight rituals - but this time, he wasn't there.
For the first time in 15 fights, Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao missed the Catholic Mass celebrated prior to his fight, reportedly in favor of another Christian service in his hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, December 8 (Sunday, December 9 in Manila).
Atty Romulo Macalintal, one of Pacquiao's staunchest supporters, said in an interview by Keats London posted on Facebook that Pacquiao was supposed to attend the mass held at the Mandalay Bay's South Pacific Ballroom prior to the fight, but he was a no-show.
"According to Fr Marlon (Beof), Manny Pacquiao committed to be present after the communion for the blessing together with the other boxers but he did not appear. He did not come," Macalintal said.
Beof, a Catholic priest from Oxnard, California, has been celebrating the 15 most recent of Pacquiao's pre-fight masses - and this time, the front rows reserved for the the boxer and his family were empty, according to London.
"Somebody told us that there is another service, another Christian service going on in his room today at this particular time, and we were hoping that before the start of that particular service, he would be coming to this area for the blessing by the Catholic priest. Kaya lang hindi siya dumating (But he did not come)," said Macalintal.
"When he was not yet 'the' Manny Pacquiao, sa mga blessing na humihingi siya ng mga panalangin, eh lagi siyang kasama dito. Kaya nga lang, ngayong siya na ang 'the' Manny Pacquiao eh mukhang sa ibang relihiyon naman siya napunta," he said.
He clarified though that they still respect his decision to not attend the mass. However, he said they still felt disappointed, especially since the mass and the fight fell on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, of whom Pacquiao had been a devotee.
"We respect his right to choose his religion, iginagalang namin ang kanyang pananampalataya," he said.
Beof, meanwhile, "[feels] sorry for Manny," according to London.
"Still we pray for him, and I'm sure Mama Mary understands his present position on his faith," Macalintal added.
Pacquiao will fight Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time in a non-title welterweight bout on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. - Rappler.com