The Azkals and Pacquiao: Filipino Athleticism At Its Finest

When in Manila, the upcoming weekend is going to be huge one for sports fans! Manny Pacquiao, the biggest name in boxing will be facing off against Juan Manuel Marquez for the 4th (and final?) time, and the Azkals will be playing Singapore in the first leg of the 2012 Suzuki Cup semifinals.




This Saturday, December 8, the Rizal Stadium in Manila will be hosting the leg 1 of the Suzuki Cup semi-finals for the first time. In 2010, when the Azkals squared off against Indonesia for the Suzuki Cup semis, the Asian Football Federation match deemed Manila’s football stadium sub-standard and thus both legs were held in Indonesia. This, along with the surging popularity of football thanks to the Azkals, motivated the Philippine Sports Commission to take heed and have good old Rizal Stadium renovated to meet the AFF’s standards, which perhaps is the reason for this unprecedented honor.


In retrospect, 2012 has been a banner year for the Azkals and the Philippine Football Federation. This year alone the Azkals brought home the Peace Cup, the first football trophy the Philippines has won in 99 years, defeated Myanmar for the first time, and top-ranked Vietnam for the second time in football history. Undoubtedly, the Azkals have brought Philippine football to a whole another level, just as Manny Pacquiao did with boxing.


Highlights of Philippines vs Vietnam

As Roy Moore writes, “In 2012, the Philippines played more games than perhaps any other country. Of the 21 international matches they played, the Azkals won eleven (52%), drew five (24%) and lost five (24%). If you compare that record to the English Premier League, for example, the Philippines would be sitting in third place, challenging for the title, as only Manchester United and Manchester City would have a better ratio.” Let’s hope that this is a trend that continues into the following year.



As tickets are selling like proverbial hotcakes, has helpfully posted a buyer’s guide to the Azkals’ Suzuki Cup Semifinals. If you want to be there to cheer our national football team on to victory on our home turf, then you need to move quickly!

On December 9, Manila time, Manny Pacquiao goes up against his arch-rival, Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth, and allegedly, final time. The previous outcomes of all three matches were always controversial, with spectators, both Filipino and Mexican alike, dissatisfied with the outcome. Marquez has claimed that each time the judges did not score the matches fairly. And as you can see from the first episode of HBO’s 24/7 below, the two are evenly matched in chin and stamina, and Pacquiao’s speed and power is answered by Marquez’s precision and counterpunching ability.


 Episode two: Pacquiao does the Gangnam.


 They first met when Pacquiao was an upcoming 25-year-old boxing sensation, and Marquez, then 31, was already an established boxing veteran with a formidable recored. Eight years later, a lot has changed: Pacquiao has stepped up in weight and joined politics. He even has a comic book on his life (which this author wrote and illustrated). Marquez is a boxing analyst on ESPN Mexico and at 39, is looking at a career outside of boxing. Both are undisputed icons in their respective hometowns and boxing hall of famers. But one thing remains the same: Each one still thinks they’re the better fighter. And that is what they hope to settle once and for all this Sunday. Not to mention the hefty prize money. In their last match, Pacquiao was guaranteed $22 million dollars overall, with a purse of $6M, while Marquez was guaranteed $5M. That makes getting hit in the face for twelve rounds well worth it, don’t you think?


 “I won.” “No, I won.” source

Two massive sporting events, the Azkals at the Suzuki Cup and Pacquiao vs Marquez part 4. Two former underdogs. One looking to truly establish their place in football history, another, looking to settle old scores. What more could Filipino sports fans ask for? 


So this weekend in Manila, let’s cheer on our Filipino athletes, the Azkals and Manny Pacquiao!

Purchase tickets to the Suzuki Cup Semi-finals – leg 1: Philippines vs Singapore on

Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 will be aired live on Pay-Per-View, and with loads of commercials on local channels.

The Pacquiao Comic Book by Jose Gamboa is available on iTunes and via facebook


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