MANILA — While the rest of the nation will be glued to their television sets on Sunday, watching the bout between Filipino boxing champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and challenger Chris Algieri, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang will be skipping the fight in order to honor a fallen soldier in La Union Sunday.
During that day, the AFP chief will be conferring a posthumous Gold Cross Medal to 2nd Lt. Jun Corpuz, who died fighting Abu Sayyaf bandits who wanted to derail the construction of the Basilan Circumferential Road.
Cresencio Corpuz, the father of the slain officer, will receive the encased medal, the third highest combat award in the AFP.
“I can always watch the replay of our Pambansang Kamao, but I could not miss the opportunity to present this award to the family of our fallen hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country,” Catapang said.
Various live screening services of the much-awaited Pacquiao-Algieri fight will be held in various military camps around the country.
The activity is part of the military’s morale and welfare program.
In Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP Grandstand and AFP Wellness Center that can accommodate to over 3,000 spectators will be opened to military personnel and their loved ones.
The Philippine Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio will also open the Ricarte Hall of its Officers’ Clubhouse, Army General Hospital Multipurpose Hall and PA Gymnasium for its personnel.
While Philippine Air Force headquarters in Villamor Air Base in Pasay will open its gymnasium to accommodate soldiers and dependents who want to watch the fight as it happens for free.
The Philippine Navy is also opening several venues to live screen the fight, including the Social Hall in Bonifacio Naval Station; the Conference Room in Naval Base Cavite and the Fleet Marine Ready Force Wardroom in Sangley Point; NETC Blain Theater in Zambales; and the Multipurpose Hall of Naval Sea Systems Command also in Cavite.
Military bases that house the Unified Commands, Infantry Divisions, Naval Forces and Air Bases throughout the country are also expected to provide live showing of Pacquiao’s fight.
The AFP Medical Center will also open its Auditorium for hospital personnel and confined soldiers.
Some of the wounded soldiers currently recovering in AFPMC are already excited for the fight.
Among them are Pfc. James Danao, 26, of the Philippine Army and Pfc. Aldeniel Hadjirani,24, of the Philippine Marines.
Danao said that he is looking forward to another exciting fight from Manny Pacquiao.
“As Philippine Army personnel, I draw inspiration from Lt.Col. Pacquiao as I continue to recover from my wound. He has been giving honor to our country by fighting in the ring and I hope that I can do the same in protecting our country,” Danao said, who was confined in AFPMC since September this year.
Danao is recovering from a gunshot wound on his left arm that he sustained in an encounter with New People’s Army rebels in Lacob, Abra last Sept. 6.
Likewise, Hadjirani said that Pacquiao’s hard work and accomplishments continue to inspire him even after his right arm was amputated after he sustained a gunshot wound in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Jolo, Sulu on July 3.
“I am excited to watch him fight again. He always gives his best in all his fights and I am confident that he will win and bring honor to our country again this time,” said Hadjirani, who has been confined since July this year.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Group-Sulu commander, Col. Allan Arrojado, said that his unit will continuously pursue the bandits during Pacman’s fight.
“There will be no let up in the law enforcement operations and I won’t allow the bandits to relax and watch the fight. Some of my support personnel can enjoy the live viewing at our headquarters,” he said.