Friday, December 4, 2009

The Final Score: Manny versus Mayweather. Now, Please!

Manny Pacquiao enters the boxing arena. The crowd erupts. Even in the middle of Las Vegas, he hears the cheers from Filipinos many time zones away. Yet when Pacquiao files his certificate of candidacy, aiming for a congressional seat in Sarangani, he hears neither thunderous applause nor deafening roars. All he gets are curious looks and raised eyebrows. Oh sure the media frenzy never abandons him. Amidst the shower of flashbulbs, however, Pacman has to realize that politics in this country rarely inspires.

Pacquiao has every right to pursue his political ambitions. If his dream is to annex a chair in the Batasan Complex with his numerous title belts, let him chase that dream. It’s unfair to say that Pacquiao shouldn’t run for public office because he’s just an athlete. We sent Freddie Webb and Robert Jaworski to the Senate after all. It’s likewise unfair to prevent Pacquiao from joining the political derby because he can’t quote Hemingway. Eloquence isn’t a basis for integrity, you know.

There is joy, no matter how fleeting, in watching Pacquiao raise a title belt. It’s a sight that unites, albeit artificially and temporarily, a country. In contrast, Pacquiao shows off his accomplished COC and the nation shrugs its shoulders. It has little to do with Krista Ranillo. Perhaps Manny can blame every other corrupt politician roaming our 7,100 islands for the lukewarm response. Filipinos love their heroes in boxing gloves. They abhor thieves and alleged mass murderers in three-piece suits. A successful boxer is an honest fighter. A successful politician is…well. A well-fought bout, a well-played game are described as beautiful. A sporting event, league or personality suddenly turns ugly when politics rears its unwelcome head. Politics and sports mix as well as barong and maong. So when Pacquiao stubbornly insists on joining the election Cirque du Soleil, the dissimilarity between Manny the pugilist and Manny the aspiring public official is as jarring as Manny’s brutal left hook.

Thankfully Bob Arum is in town. Let’s get this Pacquiao-Mayweather super bout finalized and let sports distract us from the fatal flaws of some of our government leaders. Efren Peñaflorida and many others like him are doing what they can to make the Philippines get on its feet. Unfortunately, Peñaflorida can’t pack cinemas, arenas and barangay plazas the way Pacman can. I wish people would set aside one Sunday in a year for Peñaflorida, Tony Meloto et al. the way they do for any Pacquiao bout. But since Filipinos are more excited over heroes who punch opponents than champions who push kariton-classrooms, I’m willing to work from there.

In these extreme times, Pacquiao’s higher purpose isn’t to peddle Manny Pacquiao versus Roy Chiongbian. Pacquiao’s higher purpose is to divert attention from politics at the least, inspire national pride at the most. They say Pacquiao versus Mayweather might happen in March 2010. I say March should come sooner. This country needed Pacquiao versus Cotto after Ondoy-Pepeng. It needs Pacquiao versus Mayweather now more than ever after Maguindanao. – GMANews.TV

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