we knew it was coming yes? i mean Manny Pacquiao was always coddled and forgiven, he could do no wrong. this is what we tend to do for anyone we declare hero. because in a nation in dire need of some good vibes, some wins in the midst of too many losses, we make heroes out of, and i paraphrase Pia Wurtzbach here: basketball stars, beauty queens, and boxers.
Manny, as with all athletes the world over, stands for nation in ways that only an athlete’s pain and determination and success can. For the Philippines though, Manny is also about dreaming and possibility, fame and politics. In the Philippines, Manny is athlete, but also artista and congressman; in the Philippines Manny is the one icon to rise from the masses and become everything that the upper classes wish they had amongst their kind. They forget that only the downtrodden will not mind getting their faces wrecked in a boxing match.
and yes, before you deny it, we’ve forgiven Pacquiao for everything. —
Meanwhile, we apparently don’t mind that someone like Manny will surround himself with politicians – even the ones that we’ve decided are the most crooked and corrupt of them all. Apparently, he can endorse US candidates, and we barely care. Apparently, we will let Manny do what he wants, no matter that it reeks of everything we’ve kicked out a President for: gambling, cockfighting, womanizing. Apparently, we will see him as credible still, regardless of the fact that he sells every other product in the market, including a beauty clinic. Apparently, we don’t mind that he is Congressman, and after that last fight, we will dare say that he deserves to be Senate President, never mind that we’ve been insisting that those we put in office be people who deserve it because they have proven themselves intelligent, honest, credible. The same goes for the calls to make him tourism icon. Apparently, Congress will celebrate his arrival by spending P300,000 pesos on a party, erasing all his absences and giving him the Congressman of the Year Award, forgetting that being the best boxer in the world isn’t equal to being the best public servant in the Philippines, in fact at this point it’s farthest from it.
But too, we seem to be absolving Manny of all possible faults, including the lack of a clear stand on anything. And I don’t know that this is the most productive way to deal with a world-class athlete on our shores. Elsewhere in the world, athletes lose endorsements for bad behavior; elsewhere, they need to take good care of their public image, keep personal lives private, as a matter of gaining and retaining respect. Elsewhere, people dare to take athletes to task as public figures. On this side of the world, we are all just overwhelmed by Manny, so much so that we will forgive him anything, if we aren’t blinded completely to his faults.
Pacquiao was also anti-reproductive health bill, and has built a political dynasty in Sarangani (yes, his wife Jinkee is a politico). both the Congressman and the Vice Governor were not around when Sarangani was suffering the brunt of El Niño and the province was declared in a State of Calamity last year. where were they?
In Los Angeles to train for today’s fight, Pacquiao gave the media a tour of the mansion that he was buying. Previously owned by Jennifer Lopez.
At around that time the news from Sarangani showed dry lands and dead crops: El Niño had destroyed 2,400 hectares of land, its mayor was thinking of declaring a State of Calamity. (Beyond Boxing, May 2015)
and lest we forget: Pacquiao decided that he would put his energies into building a school for boxers. not in the Philippines, but in China. to train their boxers to beat our boxers.
how’s that for some good ol’ nationalism?
ah, but Pacquiao was always beyond criticism, and whenever any of these articles came out, it would always be called crab mentality.
and yet one wonders: if we had this kind of critical stance against everything Pacquiao did outside of the boxing ring, would he even think of running for Congressman, and now for Senator?
if we were more consistent about what a world-class athlete should be, and what is unacceptable behavior from our celebrities and icons, would he, at this point in time, be displaying bigotry in the name of his Catholicism?
It cannot simply be Pacquiao’s fault. There is a sense that he’s actually been ill-advised all this time, maybe taken advantage of too, by the people around him. Politicos know of the value of having Pacquiao on their side; one hopes Pacquiao knows how his credibility is affected when we see him with the Chavit Singsons of this world.
The media is also to blame. There is no sense of objectivity when Pacquiao is the subject of their story; they paint Pacquiao as someone who can do no wrong because he is reason for Pinoy pride. This is how we ruin icons in this country. This is how we create sacred cows.
One still hopes that Pacquiao could be that icon who can make the masses think about what has kept them impoverished, an icon who can demand of government to do better than it has at providing for nation. One hopes he (and his family) stops with politics, because he can affect real change without being tainted by the label of politico.
But alas, at the press con for the Maweather-Pacquiao fight, fans carried Philippine flags with Pacquiao For Senator on it. Alas, it seems there is no stopping this delusion, though one hopes that the new-found faith in God might teach him to be humble enough to admit that politics is not for him.
The chances of that are slim of course. One realizes that given Pacquiao’s wins and losses, this country only gets the heroes it deserves. (May 2015)