Our written greetings may constitute barely a whisper compared to the raucous crowds who will cheer Manny Pacquiao while he is in the Cayman Islands, but all the same we’d like to offer a hearty welcome to the legendary boxer from the Philippines.
The primary reason Mr. Pacquiao will be in Cayman is to host Saturday’s “Island Rumble” boxing event at Truman Bodden Stadium, although he has other items on his agenda, including visiting young “Have a Heart” patients at Health City Cayman Islands.
Organizers of Saturday’s event expect more than 4,000 people to turn out for the fights.
That’s easy to believe, not just because of the number of boxing fans in Cayman, but the number of “Pacquiao fans” here (and everywhere).
Mr. Pacquiao is undoubtedly the biggest international celebrity from the Philippines. His arrival in Cayman, following last summer’s visit by his compatriot, Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, is a moment of great pride for Cayman’s substantial Filipino community.
(As a measure of the importance of Filipino residents to Cayman, consider that in 1995 there were 671 Filipino work permit holders in Cayman; as of the end of 2016, that number had grown to more than 3,000.)
When he comes to Cayman, Mr. Pacquiao will join a short list of iconic sports figures who have arrived on our islands, not merely as celebrities unto themselves, but as representatives of their country’s culture and esteem.
On par with Mr. Pacquiao’s visit, we would place previous visits to Cayman from Brazilian football legend Pele and Jamaican megastar sprinter Usain Bolt.
Although back in the Philippines Mr. Pacquiao officially holds the office of senator, not diplomat, while he is here in Cayman he will be in the role of ambassador, connecting his country to ours.