Michael Yamson speaks up, denies he's after Mommy D's money
MANILA - It started at a karaoke bar on Valentine's Day.
In his first on-camera interview, 38-year-old seaman Michael Yamson recalled how he first met and fell in love with 65-year-old Dionisia Pacquiao or Mommy D, mother of Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquiao.
Early this year, the ship Yamson was working in docked in General Santos City for a few weeks.
On February 14, Yamson and his colleagues decided to visit a nearby karaoke bar where Mommy D and her companions also happened to spend the afternoon. He recalled initially not noticing Mommy D, until one of his crewmates pointed in her direction.
"Nakatingin lang ako, nakatitig lang talaga ako. Noong kumanta siya, palakpak lang kami nang palakpak," Yamson told ABS-CBN News' Rean Hacosta on Friday.
"Kumanta muna ako doon sa stage. Napapansin ko na rin pumapalakpak siya sa pagkanta na 'yon. Pagkatapos ko, kumanta na siya ulit doon," he said.
This encouraged him to ask for a photo with Mommy D, Yamson recalled. "Naglakas-loob na ako, lumapit na ako doon sa isa niyang bodyguard. Sabi ko, 'Puwede po ba mag-pa-picture kay Mommy D?'" he said.
Mommy D's and his group happened to leave the karaoke bar at the same time. Explaining the photos taken inside were dark, Yamson said he and his crew mates asked for another picture where there was daylight.
While his friends were posing with Mommy D, Yamson rushed back inside the bar to grab a piece of paper. Here, he wrote his name and number.
"Sabi ko [kay Mommy D], 'Ma'am, puwede po makipagkamay sa'yo?' Pagkamay ko sa kanya, kasama na 'yung papel doon. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Alam ko naman ma'am hindi mo ibibigay 'yung number mo, eh, so number ko na lang,'" he narrated.
Yamson saw Mommy D putting the piece of paper in her bag.
Twenty-four hours later, he received a text message from an unsaved number.
"Nagtanong siya sa akin, 'Ikaw ba ang may ari ng number na 'to?' Doon nag-start. Noong tumawag siya sa akin, tuwang-tuwa ako noon. Mga 11:30 iyon ng gabi. Iyon ang unang tawag," Yamson said.
While it wasn't a direct invitation, Mommy D told Yamson that she was visiting the same karaoke bar where they first met. He took this as a go-signal to make his intentions known to Mommy D.
"Sa sobrang excited, nauna na ako sa lugar na 'yon," Yamson said. "Nauna akong dumating, matagal din akong naghintay doon, mga isa't kalahating oras."
In the following days, Yamson started to formally court Mommy D. Aside from keeping in touch through phone, he said he would always ask Mommy D if she needed a companion to her daily activities.
"Niligaw-ligawan ko 'yan, hindi lang sa text atsaka sa tawag. Personal, pinupuntahan ko siya, para maparamdam ko talaga 'yung nararamdaman ko," he said.
When the scheduled sail of his ship neared, Yamson felt it was time to ask Mommy D if she could commit to a serious relationship.
"Hindi rin siya nakatiis. Sabi ko, 'Aalis na kami. Bibiyahe na kami.' So bago kami umalis ng Gen San, naging kami na. Doon nag-start. February 20 naging officially kami," he said.
Explaining their decision to become a couple only a week after meeting each other, Yamson said: "Hindi naman kailangan talaga tagalan. Kung ano ang nararamdaman namin sa isa't-isa, bakit pa namin tatagalan? Hindi naman kami mga bata na, eh. Hindi na kailangang dumaan ka pa sa sobrang panliligaw kung nararamdaman mo, nandoon na."
'Panel interview' with Pacquiaos
Over the six months they have been together, Yamson admitted it has been challenging to have constant communication with Mommy D, citing his job. On days or weeks when he is allowed to go on vacation, Yamson said he always visits his girlfriend.
He clarified, however, that contrary to the impression of her son, Manny, he and Mommy D are not living under the same roof.
When asked on his ties with Manny, who has publicly disapproved of a possible wedding between him and Mommy D, Yamson only said he respects the opinion of the boxing champ.
"Ginagalang ko naman talaga 'yung desisyon niya. Iba naman 'yung paniniwala ng bawat isa. Nirirespeto ko naman kung ano ang sasabihin niya. Wala naman akong sama ng loob doon," he said.
"Ang sa akin lang naman, wala akong magagawa. Mahal ko nanay niya."
Yamson said that while he sees Manny from time to time, he has yet to speak with him. The same is not the case with Manny's siblings, however, as Yamson has admittedly gone through a "panel interview" where they assessed his intentions with Mommy D.
Mommy D has four children with Rosalio Pacquiao, her partner of 20 years before they separated -- Isidra, Manny, Bobby, and Rogelio. She has two older children from her previous marriage.
"Nakausap ko naman nang maayos," he said, noting the conversation was without the presence of Mommy D. "Ang gusto lang naman nila 'yung assurance. Maibibigay ko naman talaga 'yung assurance na 'yon, kung bibigyan lang talaga nila ako ng chance. Maipapakita ko sa kanya."
This is also the reason why Yamson has sought to re-apply for his job as a seaman. While he is not affected by criticisms that he is supposedly only out for Mommy D's money, Yamson said it is important for him to prove to her family that he can support her financially.
"Ako naman kasi, kaya ako nagsusumikap na bumalik ng barko, para hindi nila isipin, ng ibang tao, tsaka makita na rin ng mga kamag-anak niya, na hindi pera ang habol. Gusto ko magtrabaho. Kaya ko," he said.
Yamson recalled that one of Manny's lawyers asked him if he can provide a comfortable life for Mommy D, if her children happen to decide to no longer support her.
"Sabi ko, 'Kaya ko, dahil magtatrabaho ako.' Kung hahayaan niya ako mag-abroad, hahayaan niya ako bumalik sa barko, kaya ko siyang buhayin. Iyon ang sagot ko sa kanila," he said.
Fighting for Mommy D
Amid doubts about his intentions, Yamson said he will fight for his relationship with Mommy D "as long as she loves me."
"Ang importante naman sa akin na napatunayan ko sa family niya na hindi ako gano'n. At may takot ako sa Diyos, eh, na hindi ko magagawa 'yung iniisip nila, eh. May takot din ako sa Diyos," he said.
Asked if their 27-year age difference is an issue, Yamson said he is only concerned that Mommy D will start to have health complications as she grows older and that he cannot take care of her during times he is away.
For this reason, Yamson said he and Mommy D have agreed that he will only take a six- or nine-month contract for his re-application as a seaman.
Yamson is planning to return to work before the year ends.
'No problem with sex life'
Given their situation, the couple gave a hearty laugh when asked if there are plans to settle down and possibly have a child.
"Wala pa kaming plano magkagano'n," Yamson said. "Basta may respeto kami sa isa't-isa, nirirespeto namin ang desisyon ng mga kamag-anak niya, ng mga anak niya, doon muna kami."
The two, however, admitted to still having a "sex life."
"Okay naman! No problem diyan!" Mommy D said, laughing.
Yamson added: "Hindi maiiwasan iyon. Meron talagang gano'n. Okay naman!"
Turning serious, Yamson said: "Hangga't maaari, hindi muna namin pag-uusapan 'yon (settling down, having children). Ang importante naman, maayos kayong nagsasama, masaya kayo, wala kayong conflict, especially sa family," he added.
For her part, Mommy D is only happy to be "blessed" with a new relationship, more so after getting the blessing of Yamson's parents.
Mommy D said: "Noon, kahit hindi pa siya na-interview, si Nanay (Yamson's mother), nagsabi na siya sa akin na, 'Huwag kayo mahiya sa akin. Tanggap ka namin. Kagustuhan 'to ng anak namin. Ang importane lang, masaya kayo habang buhay. Hindi namin hahadlangan ang mahal namin.'
"Masayang-masaya ako, tumataba ang puso ko," she added. "Malaking [inspiration] talaga ito sa buhay ko. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos."