THE last time I was in the United States was 13 years ago in 2006.
I covered then the Pacquiao-Morales fight in Las Vegas, with Pacquiao scoring a third-round knockout to pocket a 2-1 result in their fabled trilogy.
While Pacquiao continued his march to stardom after that, proceeding to become the unprecedented champion in eight world crowns in eight weight divisions, Morales would next see a virtual halt to his career.
Back-to-back knockout losses to Pacquiao after winning their first battle on points signaled Morales’ slow but sure nosedive.
Ah, was I glad I was at ringside in 2006 to witness Pacquiao’s valorous moment of destroying the myth of invincibility of Morales, earning Pacquiao the tag as “The Mexicutioner.”
On my PAL flight home (all my US trips were by PAL) that year to the Philippines (business class, thank God), I told myself that was my last trip to America.
I said enough is enough.
Been there in the last quarter of a century or so, at times even twice a year, since 1981.
That was historic since it was in 1981 that I made my first trip to the US. I made it there as one of a select group of lucky Filipino journalists invited to join PAL’s maiden flight that year to San Francisco.
I was in that memorable trip in the company of business and political reporters, making me the fly in the ointment. So that in the PAL jet some 30,000 feet in the sky, the late Eking Santos, PAL’s feisty chief of corporate communications then, upon seeing me chatting with the departed Teddy Africa of defunct Times Journal, pointing at me, said: “Why is there a goddamn sportswriter here?
He was joking, of course, as he had personally invited me for the event while I was covering the PAL Golf Interclub in Cebu that year. He would next immediately embrace me and said, “I pray you are enjoying the flight.”
Sir Eking will be in my thoughts again when I board my PAL flight to San Francisco on Sunday (Sept. 22), breaking my vow of 2006 to quit flying to America.
I’m not foolish to let my wife travel alone. Risky.