MANILA, Philippines - He was not supposed to attend the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards at the Manila Hotel on Saturday night but everyone was thrilled when he gate-crashed the annual gathering of the country's sporting heroes.
Manny Pacquiao enlivened the otherwise stale evening that was devoid of many of the major awardees as the boxing star took the spotlight with his sheer presence, a promise he made the night before to a couple of PSA members who had asked him to show up.
''The PSA holds a special place in my heart,'' said Pacquiao, who has won the coveted PSA Athlete of the Year award a record six times and many other prestigious awards and accolades too many to mention.
As if it was planned, the refrain of Jessie J's hit song Price Tag was blaring in the background. The unexpected guest's strides matched the catchy refrain of ''Money, money, money,'' which is uncannily homonymous with his first nickname.
Pacquiao sat in the presidential table in the company of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who was the guest-of-honor and main speaker, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco and Frank Elizalde, the International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines.
Pacquiao did not take the stage to utter a few words but he gamely signed autographs and posed for pictures, something that brought a smile in just about everyone's faces.
Pressed to comment on his June 9 showdown against Tim Bradley in Las Vegas, Pacquiao said he will soon start working out a sweat to set him up for the eight-week training camp that will commence in Baguio in the second week of April.
''Let's start training,'' said the 33-year-old Pacquiao, stressing that he will start doing his morning roadwork this month to get rid of ring rust ''because it's been four months since my last fight.''
Pacquiao will train for three weeks in Baguio before flying to Los Angeles for the final push of his preparations for his 22nd fight on US soil.