LAKI MAN SA IBANG BANSA AKO AY PILIPINO
Fighting for countryTHE SCORE By Jannelle SoThe Philippine Star 08/30/2005LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao is not the only fighter who will be wearing the Philippine flag on his trunks for the upcoming boxing extravaganza on Sept. 10 at the Staples Center. For one, there’s the Hawaiian Punch. Although Brian "Hawaiian Punch" Viloria represented the United States in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, he wants to make it clear he knows his roots. "Yes. I’m Filipino. I’m not half, I’m not part, I’m full Filipino. I just want to get this cleared. A lot of people have been saying, ‘Why is he called the ‘Hawaiian Punch’ when he’s Filipino?’ I was born in Hawaii, you know, not by choice. But if I could, if I had a choice, I would have rather been born in the Philippines because that’s what I am — full-blooded Filipino," he declared a few weeks ago at the press conference of "Double Trouble" in Glendale, California. Shortly after the 24-year-old boxer was born in Hawaii on Nov. 24, 1980, his father had to go back to Ilocos Sur to await his visa. Ben Viloria took little Brian with him. It was in Narvacan that Brian learned to throw punches. By the age of five, his grandfather was already teaching him how. When Ben got his visa, the Vilorias set out for Waipahu, Hawaii. There, they lived near a boxing gym, so it was convenient for Brian to continue his training more formally. But Ben said recreation wasn’t the only reason he wanted his son to learn how to fight. "Alam mo naman, nasa ghetto kami, mahirap ang buhay doon. Maraming mga bully. Sabi ko, kawawa naman itong batang ito, kailangan maturuan kung paano niya maipagtanggol yung sarili niya," he said. "And I wanted him to focus para malayo siya sa bisyo, barkada. Para ‘yung time niya, d’un lang siya sa gym." Little did he know that his son was actually born to box. Brian started joining and winning competitions, making history by becoming the first Filipino/Hawaiian to win in the Juniors National Championship. He opened the doors to the Hawaiians and Filipinos there. What Ben hoped would help his son focus on education actually did more than that. Through the sport, Brian earned a scholarship at Michigan University where he took up Journalism for two years. He said he plans to finish the course after he has reached the full potential of his boxing career. For now, he is concentrating on training well and hard for his upcoming fight — in the undercard of the Erik Morales-Pacquiao double header. "Some people have said that maybe I wasn’t representing the Philippines as much as I should have. But this fight, this is for a world title and I want to represent the Philippines as my home," Brian said. To stress his point, he will be wearing the Philippine colors on his trunks when he faces Mexican Eric Ortiz in a 12-round WBC Light Flyweight Championship. This move was inspired by Ben whose family and relatives are still based in the Philippines. "Kailangang kailangan natin ipaalam sa buong Amerika na si Brian ay Filipino. Hindi siya Hawaiiano. Kaya sabi ko kay Brian, maglagay kami ng Philippine flag sa trunk to represent the Philippines. Kahit ano pa ang gawin namin, nasa Amerika nga kami, pero talagang Pilipino kami. Hindi namin mai-de-deny ‘yan kasi nakikita sa balat namin," Ben said. "It’s been a dream for me. It’s been a dream for me to fight for a world title. Now is a chance for me to show the world what I can do…that I am a champion and also a champion in everybody’s heart and also a champion for my country. I’ll be fighting for you guys. And I hope you guys will open your arms and accept me as a Filipino," Brian said. He said he will also be dedicating this particular fight to former opponent Ruben Contreras who will be present in the crowd to watch him.