The President leads the cast of dignitaries and celebrities who attend Manny Pacquiao’s birthday celebration at the KCC Mall in General Santos. Abac Cordero]

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, DECEMBER 18, 2008 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao’s grand birthday bash turned out to be a huge parade of stars from the world of politics, entertainment and sports.

President Arroyo led the long, distinguished list of 2,000 guests, some of them flying in from the United States, who packed the Las Vegas-themed party venue. (Related story on Page 19)

It was the biggest party ever to take place in this city considered as the country’s tuna capital. And Pacquiao made sure by spending close to P5 million.

All three flights that arrived from Manila yesterday were fully booked, mostly carrying Pacquiao’s guests. Some of the super VIPs flew in on private planes.

Invitations were sent to close to 1,500 people, and 500 more kept knocking on the doors the past days, forcing organizers to print out VIP Access card for the others.

It was a party fit for a king – boxing’s the pound-for-pound king or the new pay-per-view king as well.

The President arrived at exactly 7 p.m. snaking her way through a throng of fans that filled the main lobby and the third floor of the KCC Mall in downtown GenSan.

A heavy blanket of security men surrounded the President who looked so radiant in a black dress, not showing any effects of a grueling schedule earlier in the day.

The President sat at the small, round, presidential table that was placed on top of a makeshift boxing ring in the middle of the ballroom.

Joining the President and Pacquiao in the table were Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, Top Rank boss Bob Arum and trainer Freddie Roach who came in barong Tagalog.

At the height of the party, Pacquiao got a surprise call from his wife Jinkee, through phone patch, who is in Los Angeles preparing for the birth of their fourth child, a second girl.

Movie stars came in numbers, as well as political figures and those from the sports arena as well.

David Diaz, whom Pacquiao dethroned as WBC lightweight champion last June, came with Edwin Valero, the sensational knockout artist from Venezuela.

Even Rob Peters, Pacquiao’s chief of security whenever he trains in the US, came, and was so happy to find the crowd cheering him on. He said he’s never had it so good even in the US.

Most of the hotels never had it so good, with Pacquiao, according to his golfing buddy Dodge Manubay, booking 50 rooms at the East Asia Royale alone.

Food and drinks flowed during the night which was expected to last long, and Pacquiao, in a dark business suit, was having a grand time.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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