Thursday, November 13, 2008
Why Manny Pacquiao Will Not Do Battle Without Having His Favorite Tinolang Manok
In the course of covering Manny Pacquiao's fights in the US, I have learned a few things about the Philippines's most famous pugilist, and most of them were about his favorite foods. I found this out when the newspaper where I work for -- Asian Journal -- published a Boxing Special that included several pages of Pacquiao trivia a few days prior to his fight with the Mexican-American boxer Diaz in June this year. Pacquiao habitually eats tinolang manok (chicken soup with green papaya and chayote) before every fight and during training days. I am not sure if this preference has to do with the fact that Manny owns a cock-fighting farm in General Santos City, in Mindanao, where he is from. But no matter. On Saturday, I got a confirmation of Manny's chicken dish favorite when I covered Team Pacquiao's shopping spree at the Los Angeles store of Island Pacific Supermarket.
The event was being videotaped by two cameramen, one from HBO and another from GMA 7. I was able to talk to Buboy Fernandez, one of Pacquio's staff trainers and with Nonoy Neri, his personal nutritionist, and one of the first questions that Cuisinero Los Angeles asked them was Pacquiao's diet. "Manny needs a lot of protein for bulk, so we bought a lot of meats and poultry for his favorite tinolang manok and nilagang baka," Neri informed Cuisinero. The team, which included Danny Halibas, Aplas Fernandez and Jovi Halug, also bought seafood, sacks of Island Pacific brand jasmine rice, lots of boxes of noodle soup, produce, like chayote, malunggay, bok choi, and bananas, and large cans of Milo Energy Drink.
The spree took about thirty minutes, during which time the entire Island Pacific Supermarket staff, including branch manager Rosemarie Mendez, was distracted. There were smiles all around. The tab, racked up by Mendez, was close to 250 bucks. "We shop here regularly for all our food supplies, like vegetables, meats and fish. It is easier to cook our own native favorites," Buboy Fernandez told Cuisinero in Tagalog. "Manny needs to gain weight, so he needs to eat a lot of protein," says Nonoy Neri, Pacquiao's assistant trainer and personal nutritionist. So he prepares a lot of meat and chicken soups for the fighter, like nilagang baka (boiled beef with bok choi, cabbage and potatoes), and his biggest favorite of all, tinolang manok (chicken soup) with malunggay, chayote and ginger.
The team also bought dozens of eggs, which Pacquiao relishes as breakfast fare following his jogging sessions. "Pacquaio is focused," (on his upcoming fight with Oscar De La Hoya) says Neri. "He is in a good mood now. Neri informed Cuisinero that Pacquiao averages four hours a day training with his team of trainers, which includes head trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood. But the sparring sessions there are closed to the public "to keep Manny focused" and to keep the strategies secret. "This upcoming fight is not an ordinary one," said Neri. "Oscar (De la Hoya) is a Hall of Famer. But Manny's training is going very well. Oscar can't afford to be over confident. Manny is really getting in shape for this fight," Neri informed Cuisinero Los Angeles.
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