Interview with Michael Pacquiao: I’m ready to rumble

Published July 13, 2020, 2:17 PM

by Kerry Tinga

The son of boxer-politician Sen. Manny Pacquiao who trended on Twitter for his rapping skills, now releases a full album

Michael Pacquiao (Photo taken from Instagram)

“For the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching around the world… Are you ready to rumble?”

The voice and signature phrase of American ring announcer Michael Buffer is nothing short of iconic. Especially for Filipinos. Many of us remember his introduction when eight-division world champion boxer, now Sen. Manny Pacquiao, entered the arena. 

There are so many emotions the question “are you ready to rumble” conjures. It makes it the perfect sound bite to sample. It makes it even more poetic that it introduces Pacquiao’s own so showing off his “fire” rapping skills.

One-two combo

Posted on YouTube on June 5, netizens discovered “Pac-Man” more than a month later. As the cliché goes, better late than never. Going by Twitter reactions, it is well worth the listen and stream. The collaboration between Michael Pacquiao and his friend Michael Bars features killer beat and strong lyrics dished out with exceptional execution by both Michaels.

“We met on Instagram. He DM [direct message]-ed me and asked if we could collab. So we did,” says 18-year-old Michael Pacquiao in an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “We both have a passion for music and I think that’s why everything worked so well.”

Worked well may be an understatement. As of writing, the song has reached almost two million views on YouTube. Social media has been filled with praise over the creative energy and rapping beats of both Michaels. Some Twitter users noted a strong familial comparison. While Sen. Manny can punch fast in the ring, his son can rap fast on record, both with immense skill.

“We worked on it during quarantine,” explains the younger Pacquiao. “We exchanged ideas through email. He would send me the beat and I would send him my vocals. All in all, it was fun!”

After the song reached a million views on YouTube, Michael Bars wrote on Instagram, “This was a dream at 11, now turning into a reality at 18.” The Filipino rapper previously released the album Royal Rumble. The album includes the song “Head in the Clouds,” which features Michael Pacquiao and American rapper Lil Xay.

Main event

Michael Pacquiao is making some solo moves. He has teased listeners with a couple of singles and EPs. Finally, his first album Dreams dropped on Spotify on July 13. It features 11 songs that together evoke an ethereal vibe. Mainly in English, the Filipino rap “Love” sticks out with its smooth, nostalgic sentiment.

The process was slow yet rewarding. The ideas didn’t come all at once, but they all came each at the right time. He tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that, like many other musicians, there were times he even struggled with writer’s block. But it was all worth it.

“Making music doesn’t feel like work to me,” adds Michael. “If I feel like making a song, I do it. Ideas would be popping off my head. But there are times your mind gets blocked off from new ideas and it’s frustrating. I have ways of getting around that now. Making music to me can take a few hours to days, depending on if I’m feeling myself or not.”

Go the distance

When did this journey all start? Growing up, Michael Pacquiao listened to rappers and musicians like Roddy RichLil Mosey, and Eminem. At some point, he realized he wasn’t just enjoying the music. The music spoke out to him. He decided to take the leap into making music himself.

“It was a slow process where the love of music led me to wanting to create my own music,” says Michael. “My parents were very supportive. They let me do what I love. Making music is just another way for me to engage with a large number of people and to inspire them.”

With hope, this first album will be the first of many in a fruitful career for the young student. To the other young people out there who may be hesitant to chase their dreams, Michael says, “Don’t be afraid to show your talent for the Lord through the best of your abilities.”