Once installed on the 25th floor of Manila's New World Hotel, he'll head to the Elorde Boxing Gym in Quezon City for his final sparring session before departing for America. "Closed to the public" translates here to an attendance just under 100. His trainer could not be less pleased.
Take-off from Manila is contingent on his arrival for Philippine Airlines Flight 102, which 13 hours later will thud onto the tarmac of LAX, pregnant with overstuffed suitcases bearing the logo "MP" and filled with t-shirts bearing the image of his face.
When he fights on November 13 in Cowboys Stadium against Antonio Margarito, his countrymen will colonize Arlington, TX, forming a populace replete with advisors, cooks, priests, security, political chiefs of staff, a five-piece band, mentors, apprentices, past exiles for crimes now forgiven, future ones for crimes yet committed, and, of course, his mother.
Where he goes, his people will follow. They have nowhere else to be but living on his largesse. Manny Pacquiao has become the 7,108th island of the Philippines.
When Pacquiao enters the ring with a smile on his face, it is said his nation's insurgents call informal ceasefires with the military, the crime rate drops to zero, typhoons dissipate and the Pacific Ocean stands still in anticipation. A priest taken hostage was once released so his captors could watch Pacquiao fight. During Pacquiao's demolition of Miguel Cotto in November 2009, a minimum of seven Filipinos died of cardiac arrest from their excitement.
For five years, Pacquiao has gone without defeat. For five years, his skill as a fighter has improved. Despite 6-1 odds in his favor against Margarito (who is training in Oxnard, CA), many wonder whether the ongoing distractions from his training will make this fight the first to unveil Pacquiao in decline. His trainer Freddie Roach recently declared to the press, "Baguio was the worst training camp we've ever had."