Joe Ramos was drooling over the prospects of tasty Thai food on the way to his 1 p.m. appointment in Makati when he got a rather disappointing response from the lady manning the reception area.
"Sorry Sir, the tables are all occupied," the statuesque receptionist told the neatly-dressed Ramos.
Seconds before, Ramos had bragged about the restaurant's bevy of delectable dishes, leaving his companion salivating over what was about to be served.
"Okay, we will wait a bit," Ramos said as he engaged the guy he was with in small talk, discussions ranging from the successful staging of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and an upcoming big fight in Tokyo the day after Christmas Day.
A minute or so passed, Ramos approached the lady and asked whether the posh restaurant had a table ready for two.
"Oh," Ramos, visibly disheartened, said when told it was still full.
It was right then and there that Ramos and his companion walked a few steps toward the hotel's main restaurant for a savory serving of oven-baked pepperoni pizza and a mouth-watering bowl of Caesar salad.
Though almost everyone seems to be operating in holiday mode, Ramos isn't.
At least, not yet.
As soon as the MPBL concluded its celebrated title series involving Pampanga and Bacoor, Ramos drove himself to the plush residence of his benefactor, none other than former senator and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
While the Giant Lanterns were whooping it up, Ramos and Pacquiao, alongside MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, were already in a huddle planning for the next season.
Though Duremdes acts as commissioner, Ramos' role as chief executive officer role is two-fold.
While Duremdes runs and presides over the games, it is Ramos who provides the marketing muscle.
So, why is Pacquiao giving him the green light to run the league and think of ways to improve the product?
Ramos' major role stems from his association with master restaurateur Demy Dizon, who is his father-in-law after marrying former model Joanna in 2005 in America.
Pacquiao is friends with Dizon, who operates Harbour View, a favorite hangout of local and foreign tourists and a beloved dining place for some of society's most celebrated personalities.
But does Ramos have the credentials?
Apparently he does.
Born in the Philippines in 1979, Joseph Paulo Glinoga Ramos studied at the Jesuit-run Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
'We will split the venue with two games each.'
He graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (major in Marketing) in 2004 and suddenly found himself working for the boxing legend.
At first, he was tapped as Pacquiao's interpreter in his legal battle with former promoter Murad Muhammad.
Then he was in charge of booking airline tickets for Pacquiao's guests from the Philippines but this lowly job didn't last long as he would assume the role of one of the sporting idol's trusted men, handling negotiations for fight-related matters in the United States.
During Pacquiao's heyday, Ramos met with boxing luminaries, ranging from big-time promoters like Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya to cable giants such as HBO and Showtime.
Eventually, he assumed the role of an adviser, a position that he continues to hold until this very day as chief executive officer of the MPBL but also of the influential MP Promotions, the boxing arm of Pacquiao.
Ramos runs the affairs of MP Promotions with American dealmaker Sean Gibbons, who has expedited the world title opportunities of countless Filipino boxers, including Marlon Tapales.
Through the years, Pacquiao's organizational skills have evolved from sheer confusion to what Ramos describes as "organized chaos."
"But now, we are trying to organize it even more," he said.
Proof that they have been quite successful is the fact that the MPBL has survived and looks poised to prosper.
In the future, Ramos would like the MPBL to become a league that will join the ranks of other high-profile leagues that play a minimum of 40 games a season, excluding the playoffs.
This early, the plan is to hold between 40 to 45 games with games being played six days a week.
"We will split the venue with two games each."
Pacquiao, noted Ramos, is not afraid to take risks, an attitude that was evident during his fighting days and something that proved crucial in his success in and out of the ring.
"We are innovating and thinking outside the box but the mission is to bring sports closer to the people because things are a lot different now."
In the pipeline for Ramos, with blessings from Pacquiao, is a grassroots boxing tournament which he calls "League of Destiny."
"The boss already has Blow-By-Blow, which is professional, so we are doing this for the amateurs," said Ramos, his face glowing with excitement.
"It's going to be a Karate Kid-style competition and we have discussed this with amateur boxing officials."
Then, there's a 3×3 tournament for kids that will be played right at the center of town of a city or municipality in the country.
Almost all of these are suggestions made by Pacquiao himself, according to Ramos, insisting that despite what people say about the eight-division champion, "he is a genius in his own right."
But still, there are ideas that have been turned down.
Unlike before when his word was the law, Pacquiao now tends to lend an ear to suggestions and advice coming from his inner circle.
"He has matured and he listens a lot," Ramos said.
And this is mainly the reason why Ramos is also oozing with excitement over the prospects of embarking on another project, knowing all too well that Pacquiao has got his back.
When the interview was over, Ramos bid the scribe goodbye before doing a fist bump, wishing him well and looking forward to another meeting between them in Tokyo a day after Christmas for the Tapales fight.
Ramos had still one thing left to do while this companion had to report for desk work.
By the time they parted ways, the pizza had gone cold and the greens were left untouched.