(STAR) Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao will return from the US to a hero’s welcome at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) today.

But there will be no motorcade in the city of Manila, which had adopted the boxing idol as its son.

Instead Pacquiao will proceed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources offices in Quezon City to pay a courtesy call on Lito Atienza, formerly mayor of Manila and now environment chief.

The welcoming team of government officials at the airport will be led by general manager Alfonso Cusi of the Manila International Airport Authority.

Retired Gen. Angel Atutubo, MIAA assistant general manger for security and emergency services, said they will not prevent people from seeing, greeting, and congratulating Pacquiao.

“Normally pinagbibigyan naman natin yan (we allow this),” he said.

Pacquiao will arrive on a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight from Los Angeles at 5 a.m., he added.

Various bands will start playing upbeat tunes as soon as Pacquaio’s plane lands at the NAIA, Atutubo said.

Tirso Serrano, MIAA assistant general manager for airport development and corporate affairs, said Pacquiao will be allowed to use the airport’s presidential lounge after disembarking from the plane.

“We are only too glad to perform our role as a welcoming crowd so that we can also be a source of inspiration for athletes and achievers,” he said.

“The NAIA is ready to give its share of bringing glory and honor to those who have accomplished much in their own fields.”

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim offered yesterday to give Pacquiao a hero’s welcome, but the champion boxer sent word that he could not attend the ceremonies.

City Administrator Jesus Mari Marzan said Pacquiao’s business manager Eric Pineda sent this text messaage: “Kindly inform the good Mayor that much as Manny would want to, there has (sic) been prior commitments made already. May be we can do it on his next fight. Thanks.”

Lim said the city’s victory parade would have focused solely on Pacquiao.

“The triumph is exclusive to him since he was the one who sacrificed a lot for the training, he was the one who went up the ring and fought Barrera,” he said.

“For as long as they (Pacquiao’s camp) would agree, we would give them a cordial and warm welcome because he gave honor to the country.”

Atienza, Lim’s predecessor, said he will host a homecoming party for Pacquiao today.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Atienza said at 8:30 a.m. today, Pacquiao will pay a courtesy call on him at his office at the DENR on Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.

At 10 a.m. he will accompany Pacquiao to Malacañang for a separate courtesy call on President Arroyo, he added.

Atienza said Pacquiao visits him before and after every bout whether he wins or loses.

“Manny introduces me as his father in Las Vegas,” he said. “It has been our tradition to welcome him, win or lose, from his bouts abroad.”

Atienza said Pacquiao would have attended Lim’s victory motorcade had the city government “properly invited” him.

“Hindi lang siguro nila naimbita sa tamang oras kaya ganun (They probably did not invite him on time),” he said.

“But again, this welcome party is nothing personal, this should not be a cause for any side issue or debate… This is nothing official… I wasn’t doing that (victory motorcade in Manila) because I was mayor… I was doing that because of our personal relationship.”

Atienza said his friendship with Pacquiao, an adopted son of Manila, dates back to the boxer’s early years of training in a gym in Sampaloc in Manila.

“Manny has a special relationship with me,” he said. “There is no politics here. This is a personal thing for my family and for his family. It’s just most natural for him to come home. —Michael Punongbayan, Evelyn Macairan, Katherine Adraneda

Marquez rematch still hot draw – Dela Hoya By Abac Cordero Thursday, October 11, 2007

LOS ANGELES – Oscar dela Hoya of Golden Boy is hot for a rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Bob Arum of Top Rank is not.

After last Saturday’s fight, where Pacquiao sent Marco Antonio Barrera packing in Las Vegas, Dela Hoya pushed for another Golden Boy-Top Rank promotion, this time featuring Pacquiao and Marquez.

“Pacquiao has been going through Mexican fighters,” said the former Olympic champion of Pacquiao who has swept his last six fights against five Mexicans, knocking out four of them.

“But we still have one for you,” added Dela Hoya, looking at Arum’s direction. “And his initials are JMM. He is Juan Manuel Marquez.”

Pacquiao and his entourage are scheduled to arrive early today and will

make a courtesy call on long-time benefactor Environment Secretary Lito Atienza at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) offices in Quezon City.

An earlier plan to hold a motorcade in Manila was shelved after Pacquiao informed Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim of his previous commitment with the DENR chief.

Atienza will later bring Pacquiao to the Malacañang Palace for a separate courtesy call on President Arroyo.

Marquez, 34, is the reigning World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion who is under Golden Boy. He met Pacquiao in 2004 and the two fighters figured in a very controversial draw.

Many are hoping that the two fighters get to face each other in a rematch, and Dela Hoya wants it soon.

Arum, however, was not ready to bite.

“Don’t count your chickens,” he said, reminding Dela Hoya that Marquez is not in a sure-win situation when he takes on Rocky Juarez next month in Arizona.

“Yes, I know that it’s going to be a tough fight,” said the Golden Boy honcho.

If Marquez loses his crown, Pacquiao might just go after Juarez.

Pacquiao is also looking at David Diaz, the WBC lightweight champion. Both fighters are under Top Rank, and Arum, it seems, would rather see a title fight between boxers of his own.

Others in the line, hoping for a big paycheck by facing Pacquiao are Humberto Soto (Top Rank), Joan Guzman and Edwin Valero (both have ties with Golden Boy).

Pacquiao said he might go up the lightweight division (135 lbs) and face Diaz right away. For the Barrera fight (super-featherweight at 130 lbs), the Filipino had trouble making the weight.

But he said he can still manage.

“I think I can handle both divisions. I can still fight at 130 or fight at 135. It depends on the negotiations. We all have to talk about it,” he said.

Golden Boy and Top Rank, which became bitter rivals in the past, smoked the peace pipe three months ago, and set the stage for the Pacquiao-Barrera rematch.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved