As Pacquiao fought, war-torn Marawi stood still
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – For around two hours, this city stood still as the people watched the much-awaited fight between Senator Manny Pacquiao and Australian boxer Jeff Horn.
At the provincial capitol of Lanao del Sur, men, women, and children sat, fixated, during a special screening at the social hall.
Men in uniform guarded the building while they also monitored on the radio what was happening – from the undercard fight to the main event.
Time stood still. Bombs being dropped in the city center suddenly didn't matter.
All eyes were on the screen. Maranao women sat together. Men went around the hall, talking about the fight.
"Where can we place bets?" asked one.
"I'll take yours for P20, the only money I have. I'm for Horn for P20," said another amid laughter.
Choppers, as well as OV-10 Broncos with their loud engines, flew above.
A few seconds later – a loud sound, followed by another, and another. No one bothered to look out the windows to see where the bombs fell, unlike before when residents would carefully scan every bomb that struck.
The provincial government also handed out hot bread and soda to the viewers.
When Pacman came out, everyone cheered, just as another loud sound blasted through the air. Despite the bombing, some continued screaming, "Manny! Manny! Manny!"
The ring then sounded off, signaling the beginning of the bout.
Every punch that Pacquiao threw at his taller, younger opponent was greeted with cheers. People applauded, even during quick replays.
For every hit Pacman took, however, the crowd went silent.
The noise of the bombings was drowned out by the screams of the hundreds of people who were watching in the hall.
"Pacquiao is an inspiration. He always gets hit, knocked down, but he always gets back up... we will [also] get back up," a Maranao woman told another.
But when ring announcer Michael Buffer announced the result, everyone in the room was shocked: Pacquiao lost to Horn.
As people left the hall, the sound of another bomb falling somewhere in the city echoed.
Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr said every Pacquiao fight is the Maranao people's fight. It is a fight of the Filipino nation, of the Filipino people, he added.
Today, Marawi City stood still. Tomorrow, the fight for Marawi continues. – Rappler.com