'Pacman fever' sweeps across Philippines

Story highlights

  • Manny Pacquiao will fight Floyd Mayweather on Sunday, May 2
  • Highly anticipated fight will be watched by millions worldwide

(CNN)In the final hours before the big fight, "Pacman Fever" has even spread to the post office.

Several days ago, the national postal service in the Philippines issued special commemorative stamps featuring the country's most famous pugilist, Manny "the Pacman" Pacquiao.
"This stamp is selling like hotcakes," said Evelyn Jacala, postmaster at a post office in downtown Manila.
    The stamp shows the athlete, bare-chested and armed with red boxing gloves and his trademark goatee. A caption calls him the "People's Champ."
    "Manny Pacquiao is the first Filipino athlete to be immortalized in a stamp," explained Melanie Cruz, chief of corporate communications for the Philippine Postal Corporation.
    In this island nation, Pacquiao is much more than just a boxer.
    "He's my idol!" exclaimed Noreli Domingo, a Filipina visiting Manila from her adopted home in Hawaii.
    Pacquiao is an elected member of the national Congress, the coach and player on his own professional basketball team, and a real-life rags-to-riches success story. He famously went from a childhood of hunger and poverty to becoming one of the world's highest paid athletes.
    In the weeks running up to his bout with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, Pacquiao released a music video. The song he sings is basically a love letter to the Philippines.
    The boxer croons into a microphone over images of destruction in Tacloban, the town devastated by a typhoon in 2013.
    Entitled "I fight for the Filipinos," it mixes footage of Pacquiao battling in the ring with video of his smiling countrymen.
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    The feeling is clearly mutual.
    "Aside from being a good boxer, Pacquiao is also a good person," said Grace Peralta. Peralta, who owns a bar in Manila, spoke to CNN while shopping for t-shirts with the boxer's face on it at a Manny Pacquiao souvenir shop.
    Peralta said her bar would be showing a live broadcast of the fight in Las Vegas to customers. Due to the extreme difference in time zones, the fight -- scheduled for Saturday night in the U.S. -- will take place Sunday morning in the Philippines.
    It is expected to be one of the most watched events of the year here.
    The bout will be broadcast live on all of the country's main television networks. The mayor of Manila has set up free outdoor screenings for crowds in parks and sports stadiums. And for the equivalent of around $18 a ticket, audiences can watch the boxing match projected live onto the big screen in many Manila movie theaters.
    In the past, Filipino insurgent groups have famously declared ceasefires during Pacquiao bouts.
    This week, the national government pledged there would be no black-outs that could threaten interruptions in broadcasts of the fight. Just in case, an executive with a provincial electric company urged residents to turn off their appliances this weekend, to ensure steady supplies of power.
    Like many more affluent Filipinos, Jesus Macaso had already paid 2500 pesos [around $56] to purchase a pay-per view live broadcast of the fight.
    "It's really a big deal for us. The whole family will be watching," he said, adding that he planned to roast a pig for the party.
    Macaso said he would add newly purchased t-shirts to his existing collection of Pacman memorabilia, which includes Pacquiao shoes, boxing gloves, a mouthpiece and jump rope.
    At the shop, fans can also buy a Pacquiao dart board as well as the boxer's very own cologne. The name on the bottle says "Scent of the Champion."