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Pacquiao phenomenon


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — It was a day to remember. To be exact it was 13th of November, Y2K10. At Cowboys Stadium in Texas, Manny and Margarito battled toe-to-toe for the WBC Super-Welterweight Boxing Title. When standing toe-to-toe, Margarito got the edge on a 6-inch reach-and-height advantage aside from being 17-lb heavier than Manny on fight night. The size disparity begged for comparison to the David-and- Goliath mortal combat for God and country, 2K10 ago. Just like David, Manny intoned in his theme song Fighting Pride to the beat of war drums “Deliver me from this fight to honor You and country”. Just like Goliath, Margarito fought for personal glory and redemption of Mexican boxers who suffered defeats from Pacquiao, the Mex-Executioner. Just like David and Goliath, Manny and Margarito were out in the arena championing a cause.

It was a boxing event to remember. It was the day when Manny annexed the eighth wonder of the boxing world. No boxing great had ever done it before, not even the greatest Muhammad Ali in annexing 8 championship titles in 8 different weight divisions from flyweight (112 lbs) to super welterweight (catch-weight – 151 lbs). For Filipinos it was a watching experience worth remembering. Millions of Filipinos glued on the pay-per-view TV worldwide in 24 different time zones made the event border-less and timeless. The Filipino race got animated as Manny bewildered the bigger and stronger opponent with hand speed and nimble feet. They felt Manny’s every move. They rejoiced in having a smaller version of Ali floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee as their countryman took control in Round 4 after measuring his hitting distance. They got stuck in suspended animation when Margarito managed to pin Manny on the ropes in Round 6 and buckled up for a fleeting second when he got hit with a left cross on his rib cage. They waited with bated breath as Manny did a rope-a-dope, they exulted when Manny tagged Margarito back with 1-2-3 > 5 combinations.

Every move Manny made in the ring gave a sense of nationhood to millions of Filipinos scattered all over the World. Without thinking, just feeling the Pacquiao phenomenon. They appreciated and loved Manny more in the last three rounds when he cast a glance to referee Laurence Cole to check on Margarito’s swollen eyes. He said later on that boxing is not about killing each other to explain his change of heart of knocking out Margarito. He showed that even in a brutal sports like boxing one can still choose to turn his fists of fury into fists of mercy as he carried Margarito as a brother in the remaining rounds.

Pacman is the man to remember. Here in Australia, Bobby Cabanag of the Sydney Chapter Silliman University Alumni Association remembered him by posting on Facebook the Pacquiao Classics a day after the Manny-Margarito fight. Bobby emblazoned the video with a caption in bold letters Pacquiao for President. An official of the SU Sydney Chapter Alice Dumlao asked Bobby whether he was serious in his call for a Pacquiao presidency. I chimed in why not? As Pacquiao is using his talent for God and country, the gem of SU’s pursuit for excellence and a character trait we find wanting in our well-educated and intelligent leaders.

Everybody now seems to be getting into the act of honoring the action hero. Sarangani accorded a hero’s welcome to their Congressman last Friday. A general wants Pacquiao to be a peace negotiator with Muslim separatists in Mindanao. Senators want him to be the country’s tourism poster boy. President Noy warms up to the idea. Philippine Star Chair Wrecker William Esposo presents unwittingly a great potential to the Pacman as the tourism poster boy. With the furor raised over the Kay Ganda, Pilipinas slogan, Esposo came out with a slogan idea from his friend “Philippines: where Asia wears a smile.”

No other Filipino smile is seen by the whole World as Manny smiles when he ambles the lane on his way to climb the boxing ring prior to a fight. Asked by a 60 Minutes Interviewer on the meaning of that smile. Manny replied, “That’s me.” That smile reflects the high happiness index of the Filipino people, a great come-on for tourists to visit the Philippines. Asked on his interest to run as President, my action hero replied, “That’s too far yet to talk about.” Manny is qualified to run for the highest position of the land by Y2K22. In the meantime, Pakyaw is focused on being an effective public servant as an Honorable Representative of the people of Sarangani.

Manny Pacquiao is purpose-driven of the spiritual kind. Maybe it is not hard after all for Filipinos to contemplate on a smiling President by the Y2K22. So far in boxing, he has bewildered the strong. Maybe, just maybe God may be using him to confuse the political heavyweights come May Y2K22. Such is the mystery of the Pacquiao Phenomenon.

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