By CARLO ANOLIN
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the only eight-division world boxing champion, has dedicated his “Manok ng Bayan Award” to the COVID-19 frontliners who sacrificed their lives and braved the uncertainties amid the pandemic during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards Night held virtually for the first time at the TV5 Media Center Saturday night.
Pacquiao, 42, received the Chooks-to-Go Fan Favorite “Manok ng Bayan” Award for his helping hand to those in need in these trying times.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacquiao went around the country to provide financial aid and different goods while reminding them to follow health protocols at all times.
“Ang award na ito ay para sa lahat ng frontliners na sa bawat hirap [na] ginampanan nila, para sa bawat Pilipino, lumalaban pa rin kayo para sa ating bayan,” Pacquiao, who is already a PSA Hall of Famer as early as 2009, said in a recorded video. “Frontliners, thank you. I’m proud of you. Saludo ako sa inyo.
“Lahat tayo ay nagsama-sama kontra sa iisang kalaban — walang iba kundi ang COVID-19. ‘Di man ako lumaban sa boxing ring, ito po ang pinakamabigat na laban na nakaharap ko dahil nadama ko ang hirap na binibigay nito sa ating mga kababayan lalong lalo na sa mga mahihirap na tao, mahihirap na pamilya.”
The Filipino boxing legend, a five-time winner of the PSA Athlete of the Year, was the fourth recipient of the award first given in 2019 after basketball star and San Miguel Beer guard Terrence Romeo, NBA prospect Kai Sotto and the national men’s 3×3 basketball team that barged in the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualification Tournament.
Pacquiao was one of the 32 sports personalities recognized by the country’s sportswriting fraternity with golfer Yuka Saso being named Athlete of the Year for the second time.