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For Filipinos, Manny Pacquiao Remains A Symbol Of Hope

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For Filipinos, Manny Pacquiao Remains A Symbol Of Hope

Sports

For Filipinos, Manny Pacquiao Remains A Symbol Of Hope

For Filipinos, Manny Pacquiao Remains A Symbol Of Hope

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Saturday's "Fight of the Century" ended in disappointment for Manny Pacquiao fans. But for Filipino-American families, he remains a hero for the ages.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Last night, the world saw the biggest payout in boxing history - the fight of the century between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mayweather with a little grin on his face as he hunts Manny Pacquiao with right-hand counter-shots.

RATH: It ended by unanimous decision. Mayweather won. It was a disappointment for Pacquiao fans, but in Filipino-American households where NPR's Denise Guerra visited, the fight was still historic.

DENISE GUERRA, BYLINE: Manny Pacquiao was the crowd favorite in this boxing match, with diehard fans like Ivy Dulay in his corner. Entering her home in Granada Hills, Calif., generations of family and friends gathered to watch the countrymen make history. A majority were born and raised here in America. This isn't just a fight. This is an event. Inside, you can't help but notice all the traditional Filipino dishes.

IVY DULAY: Pancit - spaghetti, or Filipino spaghetti.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Chicharron.

I. DULAY: Of course, chicharron. We have to have chicharron.

Cassava...

GUERRA: In the backyard, the fight is projected on white linen hanging from a patio beam. About 30 guests are sitting in lawn chairs.

I. DULAY: A lot of our nephews and nieces just running around. I don't know if they know what's going on, but they're wearing their Filipino T-shirts.

GUERRA: Carolyn San Juan is eating ribs with her seven-year-old daughter, Siam.

CAROLYN SAN JUAN: I want you to see, Siam. Do you see? Do you see that flag? That's the - oh, that's our anthem, Siam. You see the fancy dress?

SIAM: It has the same flag carpet.

SAN JUAN: That's right - the same flight that we have at home. That's right. And see, there's Pacquiao, and we're so proud of him.

GUERRA: The story of Manny Pacquiao growing up as a poor Filipino kid and making it out of the slums resonates with a lot of Filipinos. He's become a symbol of hope and resilience for Filipinos throughout the world. You can feel the collective anticipation as Pacquiao is announced into the ring.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

GUERRA: Then, the opening bell.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

HERMAN DULAY: There you go. There you go.

GUERRA: Ivy's brother Herman is cooking chicken on a fryer behind the crowd.

Can I ask what you're cooking?

H. DULAY: Yeah, some Asian sesame chicken wings. We had a problem finding actual fresh...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GUERRA: Herman can't finish his thought. With every punch that Pacquiao lands, the crowd erupts. Thirty minutes away, in a small apartment in Glendale, everyone is cheering here, too. Unlike the Dulays in Granada Hills, the majority of people here were born and raised in the Philippines. Watching the Pacquiao fight hits closer to home.

MANNY NUVAL: He represents hope for everyone - not only for the lowly Filipinos, but everybody who needed a little bit of a lift from life and all that. He's there to lift your spirit.

GUERRA: That's Manny Nuval. He's glued to the television. He's sitting shoulder to shoulder with a small group of relatives.

NUVAL: I mean, you are alive to see this. You may not be right in the ringside to watch it, but it's like being ringside watching it on big TV (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GUERRA: As the fight continues, the mix of banter in English and Filipino starts to dwindle. The silence of the crowd sets into a sad reality - Manny will lose to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Back in Granada Hills...

KAYLA: I have no words.

GUERRA: Fourteen-year-old Kayla Navarro watches with hands over her face. Guests put away their chairs and head inside, but their disappointment stops at the buffet table.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Can I take some food?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Take some food. Take some food. (Laughter) Everyone take food.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We're going to take off. We've got an early morning.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Thanks for having me.

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