MANILA - There were grumblings, allegations of unfair judging and fist-pumping when the decision that Manny Pacquiao had lost on points to Floyd Mayweather was announced.
But within minutes, when reality had sunk in and a sense of disappointment had prevailed, Filipinos reacted to their champion’s loss the way they do with any other loss: stoically, with a dash of humour.
Thousands quickly emptied a public park in Marikina, a suburb east of the capital Manila, where the Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight was shown, as soon as they heard the bad news, and then went about their usual business.
That same scene was repeated in many other government-run venues that aired the fight for free.
In Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos city in southern Philippines, sadness enveloped a stadium, with many of the Filipino boxing superstar’s most devoted fans stepping out deflated, shoulders drooping, a field reporter said on DZMM radio.
There was disbelief.
“How could Mayweather have won? He was running away from Manny all the time,” a 77-year-old retiree told The Straits Times in Marikina.
But then later, there was acceptance.
“Manny will still come home a champion. We are proud of him,” said a 37-year-old government clerk.
Reactions from politicians, mostly encouragements and a call to look at the bright side, came in swift.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement: “We will continue to be proud that we have a People’s Champ in Manny Pacquiao who exemplifies skill, strength and courage. He is a worthy exemplar that the Filipino is able to compete in the global arena – for as long as there is a level playing field.”
President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda twitted: “Pacquiao is truly the People's Champ. He fought for respect, not points. He won the hearts of the world.”
Said Vice-President Jejomar Binay: “Manny's life story lifts the spirit of every Filipino who struggle daily to rise from adversity. His humility and faith is an inspiration to all of us.”
Online, many turned to humour to dampen the disappointment, making fun of Mayweather’s tactic to dance around Pacquiao and avoid contact as much as possible.
A tweet that quickly trended was: “Mayweather hugged Manny more than my dad has hugged me my entire life.”
One meme that was spreading was a photo of the character Olaf from the movie Frozen, with the cation: “I am Mayweather, and I like warm hugs."
Hours after the fight, restaurants that hosted pay-per-view screenings of the fight were back to serving regular customers.