Traffic ground to a halt and feuding political factions briefly put aside their differences yesterday as Filipinos rejoiced over boxing hero Manny Pacquiao's victory over Mexican rival Erik Morales.
Pacquiao stopped Morales with a flurry of punches in the 10th of their 12-round rematch in Las Vegas to avenge a defeat to the Mexican fighter 10 months ago, drawing cheers from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, mountain-based guerrillas and the rich and poor alike.
"Thank you, Manny, thank you," Arroyo told Pacquiao in a telephone call minutes after he was proclaimed the winner. "Thank you for the honor you gave to our country."
The win was a rare piece of good news for Arroyo, who has struggled for months amid a crisis over vote-rigging and corruption allegations. Arroyo and her husband have been high-profile supporters of Pacquiao and other athletes.
Huge crowds watched the much-awaited showdown in theaters, public squares, gymnasiums -- halting traffic in Manila's downtown Quiapo district where hundreds watched the match on a drug store's large advertising screen. Others were glued on their TV and radio sets nationwide.