LAS VEGAS – Gail Banawis, the statuesque New Yorker who will sing the national anthem before the start of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight on Saturday, said she is nervous but excited as the day of her performance nears.
“We’ve been practicing since last week and I’m getting nervous,” she said when chanced upon Thursday fresh from rehearsal.
But she said she is also getting excited, knowing this is once-in-a-lifetime-chance that may give her fledgling singing career a boost.
“Yeah, I know this big,” she said, assessing the significance of the occasion.
Banawis, whose family lives in Brooklyn where she is also studying speech pathology in one of the schools there, will not be singing solo, though, unlike past performers who did it alone.
She will be joined by 11 pastors belonging to Pacquiao’s Christian congregation in singing the anthem that is expected to be watched by millions worldwide.
She said she’s not worried that she will be joined by non-professional singers, she’s just happy to be given the chance to sing the Philippine anthem although she never sang it before as she grew up in the US.
She said that she was told that she would sing the anthem a month ago.
“I could not believe it at first,” and asked the caller, “Is this a joke?”
The invitation was later formalized and she began to wonder how she would do it.
The thought that she would indeed be singing in front of millions worldwide “has not really sunk in yet.”
But it may now have after she was told that the dress she will wear, a lavender, floor-length Filipiniana by Oliver Tolentino, has been delivered to her hotel room.