PACMAN FANS. In this file photo taken in November 2011, wounded soldiers who were recuperating at the Army General Hospital eagerly watched the Pacman fight. (Photo by Major Harold M Cabunoc)
FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – Like millions of Filipinos worldwide, the wounded soldiers of the Philippine Army are also anticipating to watch the upcoming fight between Lt Col Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Timothy Ray Bradley Jr. on Sunday, June 10.
Housed in the newly-renovated 200-bed capacity Army General Hospital (AGH), the Army's wounded warriors are among the thousands of off-duty soldiers who are eagerly awaiting for the D-Day of Pacquiao's fight.
There are 17 wounded soldiers out of the 173 patients who are now being taken cared of by at least 100 medical personnel of the Army's well-equipped hospital.
Inside this headquarters, soldiers are also expected to flock towards the Army Officers Clubhouse and the Army Wellness Center, which can accommodate at least 500 and 1,000 spectators, respectively.
Corporal Charito B Semine, 31, is a wounded soldier from 1stInfantry Division based in Zamboanga del Sur.
Sometime in February 2010, he was part of a security patrol that was ambushed by the Abu Sayyaf rebels while on their way to acquire supplies for their company.
He was one of the soldiers who sustained shrapnel wounds from the landmine that was detonated by the rebels. His left ear and eye were seriously damaged while his spine was fractured due to the bomb impact.
After the incident, he stayed at the AGH for more than a year and had been a constant in-patient since. Until today, his therapy is on-going and needs to undergo MRI.
While his family cannot visit him due to distance, he relieves boredom and loneliness by watching various TV programs especially sports news.
The free viewing of Pacquiao’s fight which AGH sponsors at their 200-seater auditorium brings so much joy to the patients.
According to Semine, the soldiers are always excited to see Pacman's fight, boosting their morale all the time.
“Our hospitalization has limited our ability to explore the excellent views outside. Watching Pacman fight really excites us, and in fact, the room explodes with shouts and cheers everytime he emerges a victor,” said Semine.
Semine admires Pacman's courage for unflinchingly facing threatening, bigger opponents. Like Pacman, he also doesn't fear facing dangers of his profession, and wants to serve in the frontlines again after his full recovery.
“I want to continue serving the people through my military service. I want to be part of the solution so that we can attain lasting peace,” he added.
Another Pacman fan is Private First Class Jeanel A Enanor, 25, from 8th Infantry Division based in Samar.
Walking with crutches, Enanor recalls their encounter with the NPA bandits on May 2010.
Enanor narrated that they were going back from a 7-day operation when the rebels attacked them, injuring him seriously. He has been confined at AGH for the past two years now.
“I was hit in the spine during that encounter, rendering me partly immobile. While undergoing a lengthy theraphy, I relieve myself of boredome by watching TV,” he said.
Like Semine and Enanor, all of the patients in the ward are excited to watch Pacquiao’s fight. They are joined by the medical personnel in cheering for Pacman come Sunday.
It is the second time in the incumbency of Army Chief Lt Gen Emmanuel T Bautista that a free viewing of Pacquiao’s fight is offered for the soldiers.
“Lt Col Pacquiao has been the source of inspiration for our soldiers for the past years. The soldiers praise him for indomitable spirit, and we also take pride in his accomplishments in the boxing world,” Bautista said.
As a military reservist since 2006, Pacman has earned a special place in the hearts of the soldiers.
Last year, he was commissioned in the reserve force with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is now serving as a deputy commander of the 1st Sarangani Ready Reserve Battalion which is active in humanitarian missions and disaster response operations in the province of Sarangani.
ARMY SOLDIERS eagerly wait for their turn to have photo ops with their sports idol, Lt Col Emmanuel 'Manny' Pacquiao, during his visit to the Army headquarters last year.