Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, armed insurgents and common street folk found unity yesterday when they cheered for Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao then collectively grieved over his defeat to Mexico's Erik Morales.
All three judges declared Morales the winner after the non-title super featherweight showdown fought before a sellout crowd that included Arroyo's husband and dozens of Filipino lawmakers at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, the slight favorite, fought desperately with blood flowing down his face from a bad cut over his right eye, earning praise at home despite his loss. Many fans believed he would bounce back with the same ferocity that has earned him a string of boxing victories and turned him into an icon in his divided and poor Southeast Asian country.
"I praise Manny Pacquiao's bravery, ability and fighting spirit," Arroyo said. "I am sure he will bounce back from his loss."
"We cheer Manny as an outstanding Filipino. He sets an example of the toughness we need to surmount our trials and in fighting our way to become a strong Philippines," she said.
In their hinterland strongholds, Marxist and Muslim separatists took time out to monitor the bout over the radio.