FOR the first time since his family quietly left his birthplace in the rural town of Kibawe, Bukidnon to try their luck in the city, Senator Manny Pacquiao has returned in a grand homecoming that allowed him to share not only the fruits of his success but his story of hardships that molded him to greatness.
Kibawe municipal hall, Mayor Reynaldo "Jimboy Tebontu" S. Ang Rabanes said they invited Senator Pacquiao to Kibawe to give tribute not only for his extra-ordinary achievements in boxing but also for his unparalleled dedication to serve the people.
In a symbolic ceremony at the Kibawe municipal hall, Rabanes turned over to Pacquaio a copy of his birth certificate to show that he is truly a son of Kibawe.
Pacquiao was only five years old when his family decided to leave Kibawe and move to General Santos City because of the constant skirmishes between government security forces and communist rebels.
Pacquiao's mom, Mommy Dionisia was originally from the town of Glan, Sarangani ( originally part of South Cotabato) but after a tortous marriage, she eloped with her second husband and went to Kibawe where he was born.
But with the constant fighting in the town that was once infested with insurgents, Senator Pacquaio's family struggled to make ends meet and survived on root crops. The hard life forced his family to move to General Santos City where Pacquaio continued to live a life of struggle and hardship.
Pacquiao said that his visit to Kibawe is a fitting reminder of his roots which was built and strengthened by his sheer determination to succeed.
" Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan itong lugar dahil dito ako namulat kung paano ang maging mahirap. Ang Kibawe na kinamulatan ko ay napakahirap ang pamumuhay at pugad ito ng mga rebelde noon kaya kailangan naming umalis at makipagsapalaran sa Gensan," Pacquiao related.
"Kahit madilim ang hinarap ng aming pamilya hindi ako nawalan ng pag- asa. Tulad ng marami sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Kibawe ay araw -araw tayong lumalaban sa kahirapan at kalayaang makapamuhay kahit simple basta malayo sa takot at ligtas ang ating pamilya," he added.
After the symbolic ceremony and a brief meeting with local government officials,. Pacquaio went on to give away grocery packs and P1,000 cash gifts to poor residents.
In his speech, Pacquiao renewed his challenge to rich politicians to share their money to the poor. He said that if only rich officials would all pitch in to help the poor, the number of impoverished Filipinos would be a lot lesser.
He said if given the chance, he would prioritize building a "mega prison" facility which would be intended for corrupt government officials.
"Sa puso ko gusto kong bigyan ng hustisya ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap mula sa mga kurap na politiko," Pacquiao said.
"Wala na akong kailangan. Di ko na kailangan ang kasikatan at kanya. God always provide. But i want to give justice to the poor. Kaya sa mga ganid na politiko na walang ginawa kundi magnakaw sa gobyerno, may araw din kayo," he added.
Accompanying Pacquiao in his homecoming trip to Kibawe are Bukidnon Rep. Manuel Zubiri and other provincial government officials.
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