[PHOTO - Manny Pacquiao is joined by his wife, Jinkee, and children on stage during his birthday bash in General Santos City on Saturday night. INQUIRER PHOTO]

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, DECEMBER 23, 2011 (INQUIRER) By Aquiles Z. Zonio, Rosa May de Guzman-Maitem Inquirer Mindanao Bureau - Boxing champ and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao celebrated his 33rd birthday on Saturday night with a major star-studded bash, Hollywood style. And it had all the elements of show-biz glamor and kick.

The nearly 2,000 guests—among them celebrities, politicos, relatives and buddies in the trade—arrived in their best dresses and suits, packed the KCC Mall Convention Center, cheered on, and paid tribute to the legendary boxing icon tagged as the most famous Filipino.

It was a clear-cut surprise from his wife, Jinkee, as she kept the planning for the event hush-hush and hired a Cebu-based event management consultancy firm. Her instruction: depict the occasion with a high-style Hollywood theme befitting the current stature of her husband.

“This is all about the ritz and glamor of Holywood. Manny’s in that stage considering the many facets of life he enjoys. And he’s worthy of that recognition,” said Joy Isla, managing owner of Party Island.

Isla refused to cite the cost of the event, but a Pacquaio family member claimed that about P5 million had been spent to orchestrate the event, excluding the car and P2 million that were raffled off for the guests.

The party came as a surprise for Manny who earlier spent his birthday with the people he has been serving in Sarangani province as a congressman.

Outside, two panels illustrating a Hollywood mark and James Bond figure in his macho stance were a stopper for guests who queued for a few snaps. The stage indoors bared more: the bulk of Rocky, and the copy of game of death lateral to Manny: Shining at 33.

Red carpet was rolled out, and Hollywood movie titles gave the tables a star’s touch.

Isla revealed that Jinkee was a hands-on client in the mere 20 days of planning. “The artists, the foods, she had them picked. It’s simple and elegant.”

Hundreds of wine and eclectic food prepared by caterers Sarangani Highlands, Ranchero and Jams drowned the guests. But the tuna was the star.

Some 1,500 tickets were prepared but more showed up against a stern security setup all throughout.

But the twist and irony came when his 83-year-old grandma, Cristina Dapigran, was given the chance to give her birthday message to the celebrant.

After giving her greetings, Daprigan said in the vernacular: “I hope you will make good your promise to give me a house.”

The boxer-turned-lawmaker responded with a big smile.

The lucky winner of a P1-million giveaway was a certain Cristino Alcala, village chairman of Cuales, Maasim town, Sarangani.

Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson shelled out another P1 million to entertain more guests.

Ten VIP guests won after their numbers were luckily drawn from the drop box. Each of them received P100,000 each.

Another winner got a car as birthday gift from the Pacquiao.

The organizers imposed stricter rules during the party.

There were designated entrance gates for the VIPs, Pacquiao’s family and relatives, as well as for government employees and members of the press.

Writers and photographers were advised to stay in their designated area and were not allowed to roam around the convention center.

The VIP area was cordoned off and security personnel were seen preventing even some political allies and relatives of the Pacman.

“We did not enjoy the party. There were lots of restrictions. We could not mingle with other guests and friends because the organizer prevented us from doing so,” said Joseph Jubelag, Manila Bulletin correspondent.

Jubelag said the organizer brought in security personnel from Cebu who could not recognize the local supporters, followers and even close kin of the boxing icon.

“That was not a business conference on an airplane. It was a party, so the guests must be allowed to mingle with the other partygoers. Cellular phones were even ordered closed,” Jubelag added.

Jubelag said what the organizer did about the party of Pacquiao, a politician, was a big turn-off to people.

“Pacquiao was holding a party to thank and entertain his fans, followers, supporters, friends and family members. But instead of enjoying the party, many were complaining the way the organizers treated the guests,” Jubelag said.

Many show-biz people showed up during the party.

Singer-composer Jose Marie Chan and Pacquiao sang together “Beautiful Girl.”

Other visitors included Long David, Bayani Agbayani, Giselle Sanchez and Cesar Montano.

After being bed-ridden for about four months, the crowd was surprised when Dionisia, Pacquiao’s mom appeared Saturday night and even sang a song for her famous son.

Dionisia had been eluding the press for months claiming she was advised by her doctor to take a complete bed rest.

Pacquiao’s political website – – was also launched Saturday night.

Pacquiao attends bible study before his b-day

MANILA, Philippines – Although relatively out of the limelight, boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao has been busy these days.

He and his family have been attending bible study sessions the past week.

ABS-CBN correspondent Dyan Castillejo reported that the boxer’s family, together with other relatives, has been gathering in Pacquiao’s General Santos City residence.

Pacquiao has been attending bible study sessions before his 33rd birthday on Saturday. He said he is doing this to renew his faith in God.

Birthday Pacquiao’s children have already to flown to General Santos to attend their father’s birthday party.

Just like in his past birthday celebrations, Pacquiao is expected to hold a lavish event to welcome his friends in politics, show business and boxing. The event will take place at the KCC Convention Center.

Some of his friends in the US have already flown to the Philippines to attend the celebration.

Last year, Pacquiao raffled off a Toyota Vios, 2 motorcycles, 3 flat screen televisions and cash prizes.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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