(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Boxer Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach are spending Christmas in sunny Boracay.

Pacquiao stepped foot on the tropical paradise late Thursday afternoon with wife Jinkee, their three children, their “yayas” and a couple of bodyguards while Roach will fly in today with some friends.

It’s the first time for Pacquiao to see Boracay, and he quickly fell in love with the island. The Pacquiaos are staying in one of the villas at West Cove, a high-end resort owned by close friend Cris Aquino.

“I will relax,” said Pacquiao when asked how he intends to spend the next few days in Boracay. “My whole family is with me, and we want to know how Christmas is here in Boracay.”

Aquino, the gun enthusiast and perennial flag-bearer in Pacquiao fights in the US, said the boxer liked his place carved out of the lush, peaceful end of the world-famous island.

“He liked it so much he said he wants to become a Boracay resident,” said Aquino.

Yesterday, the Pacquiaos tested the crystal clearwaters and powdery white sand then feasted on seafood, including the boxer’s favorite, steamed lobster, for lunch.

It’s the first time, too, for Roach to be there. “I’ve heard a lot about it. So, I’ll be there,” said Roach last Wednesday during a press conference announcing the March 15 rematch between Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao said he intends to have lots of fun under the sun and probably look forward to his coming fight against Marquez, the WBC super-featherweight champion, in Las Vegas.

While Roach will fly back to the US before the New Year, Pacquiao wants to be in Los Angeles by Jan. 15 so he could begin his eight-week training for the Marquez bout.

Mamiit against SEAG walkout THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Philippines’ lone gold medal winner in tennis in the 24th Southeast Asian Games in Thailand was against the walkout or retirement staged by our boxers and planned by other members of the Philippine contingent. Cecil Mamiit, who was an underdog but won the gold medal in men’s singles, says the blatant cheating would have fired him up to play even harder.

“I know as a player, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t back down as an athlete to any other thing,” Mamiit told The STAR. “And I’d do even twice as hard and make a statement with my racket.”

Mamiit, who led the tennis team to a medal haul that included two silvers and a bronze, was in the country briefly to give a free tennis clinic at the Dapitan Sports Complex in Manila Wednesday, with teammates Johnny Arcilla and PJ Tierro. The Manila Sports Council helped organize the event with the sponsorship of Cebuana Lhuillier.

Mamiit wanted to give back, telling the children participating that it was their turn to win gold medals for the country.

Although he admits he wasn’t in the same situation, Mamiit says he didn’t think the boxers wanted to quit.

“I’m very fortunate that I’m in a sport that was professionally run and relatively clean. But I think some of the boxers wanted to probably box, and I think that’s how they felt,” the veteran Davis Cupper added.

Mamiit was out of commission for two months after knee surgery in May.

It was a nagging pain in his patella that created debris that needed to be trimmed off. The demands on his schedule would cause the pain to flare up periodically.

“Whenever I’d play well, it would hurt a lot,” said Mamiit. “Because I was constantly playing, I didn’t have the surgery. But I decided it was time to do it. It was a bit scary.”

His absence caused his world ranking to plummet, which was why he wasn’t a favorite in Nakhon Ratchasima. But instead, he became an inspiration to the other Filipino athletes, because they were so close to each other, and so isolated from everyone else.

“Unlike in Manila (in 2005), where everything was spread out, here the athletes really bonded,” Mamiit recalled. “I met some new athletes, and it was great, being able to support each other like that. I’ll always remember that feeling.”

In Manila, Mamiit also gave a talk and briefing to coaches and trainors, emphasizing the value of being proud of who you are, doing your best at all times.

“I would never give up on anything,” he added. “As long as I’m in the game you know I’d be in there, fighting.” Memo to the SEA Games Task Force.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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