Pacquiao, MPBL players dine at Panciteria de Manila; receive warm welcome from Pinoy fans, Stingers head at Expo Centre

Pacquiao, MPBL players dine at Panciteria de Manila; receive warm welcome from Pinoy fans, Stingers head at Expo Centre
AFJ Team With Senator Manny Pacquiao

At the Panciteria de Manila Restaurant, adoring fans of Manny Pacquiao got a chance to say “Hi!”, take selfies with him and even pose for photos to local photographers during his brief visit to Edmonton, Dec.28.

Panciteria’s Bayani and Lorena Alcantara and their staff were getting ready for 120 people from the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) who came for lunch and after things got settled, the adoring fans could not help but keep to on taking photos of the “Pambansang Kamao”.

“Masaya kami at aming nakita at naka usap si Senator Manny Pacquiao at ang kanyang pamilya,” said Bayani Alcantara after meeting one of the world’s greatest professional boxers.

Atty.Joseph Angeles and his family are regulars at the Panciteria de Manila but that day was extra special.

“That was a rare opportunity and we are glad to have photos with him,” said the Edmonton-based lawyer who established Angeles Law with his wife and law partner Atty. Katrina Angeles.

Pacquiao, the world boxing champion and Philippine senator, gamely posed with his fans including members of the media that included Nicky Gocuan of the Filipino Journal who had the opportunity to interview Pacquiao in 2003 in the Philippines.

“That was the last time I was able to interview him after he beat (Marco Antonio) Barrera. I was happy that he remembered our interview,” said Gocuan, a veteran reporter and photographer in the Philippines before moving to Canada with his family.

That day came also as a bonus as former PBA stars were also present.

Among them were Zaldy Realubit and Kenneth Duremdes, who played in the professional basketball league in the Philippines, who are now manning the MPBL which was formed by Pacquiao in 2017 as a semi-professional league to give opportunity for rising basketball stars who could not make it yet to pro basketball.

Realubit, a native of Naisipit in Agusan, was No.1 pick in the 1989 PBA Draft and played for Presto Ice Cream that year and was a three-time PBA All-Star. He retired in 2005 with the Purefoods team and now serves as MPBL’s chief operating officer.

Duremdes, who hails from Koronadal in South Cotabato, was selected by Sunkist Orange in the 1995 PBA Draft and retired as a Coca-Cola Tiger in 2012. He is MPBL’s commissioner.

After the Panciteria event, Pacquiao and the MPBL players took a rest then proceeded to the Edmonton Expo Centre and played with local teams formed by the Philippine Sports Association-Edmonton.

Since the Expo Centre is home of the Edmonton Stingers, Stingers president Brett Fraser welcomed Pacquiao by presenting a Stingers’ jersey in simple ceremonies. The Stingers compete in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

The Alberta Filipino Journal headed by publisher Jun Angeles were among the media sponsors of the memorable event.

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