MANILA - Several high-profile Philippine public figures were spotted in Las Vegas, Nevada two days before the fight between Philippine boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.
Among those seen at the McCaran Airport in Las Vegas were First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, Vice-President Noli de Castro, and House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
Nograles, who earlier brushed aside criticisms about his US trip, said he is looking forward to seeing a good fight between Pacquiao and Cotto.
“Sana naman maganda ang laban,” he said. “I think it won’t last ten rounds.”
The Speaker said he will join the Filipinos crowd who will be rooting for Pacquiao. He may also place a small bet in favor of the Pinoy champ.
“We are going to cheer… and [bet ng] kaunti,” said Nograles.
Nograles said there is nothing wrong about his desire to watch the Pacquiao-Cotto fight. For him, it is an opportunity to join Filipinos in unity for their “National Treasure.”
“Basta ako, magkaisa ang mga Pilipino,” he said. “Filipinos’ only time to unite [ay] kapag may laban si Pacquiao. Everytime Manny fights, [there is] no crime in the Philippines.”
Nograles earlier said he has hardly missed any of Pacquiao’s fights. In fact, he already considers himself part of Team Pacquiao.
"Nobody is saying anything. Never missed his fight. And I'm part of the team, especially because he comes from Mindanao and has a residence in my district in Davao," he said.
For his part, Vice-President de Castro said he wanted to be where the excitement is.
“Of course, ito ang excitement na mahalaga sa atin. Kung wala na ang excitement, wala nang pupunta sa Vegas,” said the Vice-President.
He added that political bickering in the Philippines also temporarily comes to a halt each time Pacquiao fights.
Meanwhile, the controversial First Gentleman, a known patron of local sports, was seen hurriedly leaving the McCaran Airport.
A lower House leader earlier urged his colleagues to skip the November 15 bout between Pacquiao and Cotto.
Aside from the need to pass urgent bills, House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Arthur Defensor said congressmen should be sensitive to possible negative public opinion as he urged them to "stand to the call of high sense of duty."
There were reports that at least 20 congressmen, including Nograles, may watch the fight.
Celebrity couple Annable Rama and Eddie Gutierrez have also arrived to support Pacquiao.
“I’m here for Manny Pacquiao, sana manalo ulit. I think four rounds lang,” said Rama. -- Report from Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau