Story of heartbreak inspired ‘Lalaban’ song
LOS ANGELES—On his popular TV program “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the ABC 7 talk show host elicited laughs when he belted out an awkward rendition of Manny Pacquiao’s entrance song, “Lalaban Ako Para sa Pilipino (I Will Fight for the Filipino).”
READ: Watch: TV host Jimmy Kimmel shows off his Tagalog with Pacquiao’s song
But what inspired the song was no laughing matter. Behind the lyrics was the heartbreaking story of Pacquiao’s defeat to the politically powerful Antonino family in the 2007 congressional elections.
“Why did I write this song? This was when I lost (the elections) in 2007,” Pacquiao said in a recent dinner conversation with family, friends and this reporter at his Hollywood home.
“Grabe ang sama ng loob ko. Umiiyak ako sa sarili ko (I felt so bad I was crying inside),” said Pacquiao, as he listened to the song that his friend, movie producer Ryan Moore, played for him on his phone. Pacquiao worked with songwriter Lito Camo on the lyrics.
“Do you have to be rich? Do you have to be well-educated to win? I just wanted to help people. In politics, even if you want to serve with your heart, you can’t always win. Most of those who win are rich,” Pacquiao lamented.
“Hindi ko intensyon na magnakaw. Ang intensyon ko tulungan kayo. Bakit ayaw ninyong tanggapin? (My intention is not to steal. My intention is to help you. Why won’t you accept me?),” Pacquiao recalled asking when he lost his congressional bid to represent the second district of South Cotabato, which includes his hometown of General Santos City. The seat was won by Darlene Antonino-Custodio, a member of the well-entrenched political family.
The Pacquiao camp claimed that the election was rigged. Although he still calls General Santos City his home, he has since moved his political base to Sarangani, his wife’s home province, which he now represents in the House of Representatives. His wife Jinkee also serves as vice governor of the province.
The official music video of the song, “Lalaban Ako Para sa Pilipino,” went viral as soon as it was released. Pacquiao himself directed the video, portions of which were shown on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a few episodes ago.
Pacquiao plans to use the song when he walks to the ring on May 2 for his highly anticipated bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Sportswriters and many of his fans were puzzled by Pacquiao’s choice of entrance song—a slow beat ballad in stark contrast to the usual fast-paced, pumped-up, bass-heavy power song that most athletes pick as their pregame anthem. The most popular of these power songs is the theme from the movie “Rocky,” which Pacquiao chose for some of his previous fights.
“It’s a sweet gesture, of course, but it’s not entrance music,” said one sportswriter.
Social media hit
But the song exploded in social media, and became an even bigger hit after Kimmel sang it on his TV talk show.
As Kimmel belted out the song in Filipino, the audience went wild, cheering him on while waving and swaying to the music.
“Translated into English [the song] says, I will beat Floyd May weather station,” Kimmel joked.
He also quipped that he would submit his rendition for consideration in next year’s Grammy Awards.
On Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), Kimmel once again performed the song, this time in a duet with Pacquiao. The boxing champion made a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote his upcoming welterweight world championship megafight against Mayweather.
Kimmel also asked if he could sing the walkout song on the ring while Pacquiao enters the MGM Grand Garden Arena or join his entourage when he enters the ring, just as Justin Bieber was expected to do with Mayweather.
“Can I be your Justin Bieber?” Kimmel pleaded to Pacquiao on the show.
Pacquiao sought-after in US TV shows
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