Pacquiao returns home despite flu fears
Boxing idol Manny Pacquiao returned to the Philippines early Friday despite a request from Manila that he delay his hero's return as a precaution against the spread of swine flu from the United States, CNN reported.
Pacquiao, often considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, cemented his reputation Saturday night when he knocked out British boxer Ricky Hatton in the second round of a match in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A low-key welcome that included three of his four children greeted the 30-year-old boxer at Manila International Airport.
A homecoming parade initially planned for Friday has been moved by the Philippine government to Monday, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared "Manny Day."
Pacquiao, dubbed "Pacman" by fans, spoke briefly to reporters, telling them he felt safer from the swine flu in the Philippines, where there have been no reported cases of the disease, than he did in the United States, where nearly 900 cases have been confirmed.
On Wednesday, Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque asked the boxer to go into "self-quarantine" either in Los Angeles, where he was after the Las Vegas fight, or in Manila.
Pacquiao returned to Manila, but did not go into quarantine, although the large public celebration was delayed.
Pacquiao grew up poor in General Santos City in the southern Philippines.
He found boxing as a way to lift himself to fame and riches, yet he remains self-deprecating outside of the ring.
It is this combination of being a fierce fighter in the ring and a smiling deferential one outside that has helped turn him into an idol.