At Large

Pacquiao and the Filipino spirit


TAIWAN—ONCE again, I found myself in this country during a Pacquiao match. And once again, I came face-to-face with the devastating effect of a defeat for the “National Fist.” First came the stunned silence, and I’m sure the video cameras recording the scene captured the gaping mouths and unbelieving stares of everyone at the sports stadium in Taoyuen, with all eyes focused on the inert body of Manny Pacquiao sprawled face-down on the canvas, his wife Jinkee captured on international TV weeping into the chest of promoter Bob Arum.

Only when Pacquiao finally got up did the crowd, predominantly Filipino, the great majority being overseas workers invited to take part in the “Pamaskong Handog,” did the people stir. It was as if, like the Pacman, we had all taken a blow to the chin, and it took a while for the fact that Pacquiao had been knocked out to sink in. The overwhelming emotion was sadness.

It was as if, as a news report put it, “the Philippines had been hit by another typhoon.”

But unlike last June for the Independence Day celebration, when I walked into another sports arena here only to find sepulchral silence enveloping the crowd after another defeat for Pacquiao, this time the organizers made sure to banish all thoughts of doom and gloom as quickly as they could.

Thus, performers invited to entertain the crowd, led off by the “True Eye Band,” were called to mount the stage and lead everyone’s thoughts away from the Pacman’s loss to the gyrating antics of two female lead singers.

But Amadito Perez, chair of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) here, soon returned to the subject of Pacquiao. He was walking through the airport hallway, he reported, “when I almost stumbled when I received a text message that Pacquiao was knocked out.” Even in the face of this defeat though, he added, there was plenty of good news to go around.

* * *

ONE OF these was the awarding to Luz “Mommy Luz” Tsai, a Filipino-Chinese who is married to a Taiwanese, of an “Outstanding Overseas Filipino” award in Malacañang. Tsai, who was present at the Christmas program with her husband, is credited with publishing a guide to “Everyday Mandarin” for the use of foreign workers, especially Filipinos, as part of her church apostolate. “What I know is that you should help people without expecting any reward in return,” “Mommy Luz” told the crowd. She was the only awardee from Asia.

Another bit of good news relayed by Perez was the recent visit of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldos, who was dispatched to Taiwan to engage with talks with her Taiwanese counterparts on the possibility of lowering the recruitment fee charged to Filipino workers. This was done, noted Perez, precisely on the orders of President Aquino, who reminded him to “look into the condition of Filipinos in Taiwan.” At this the crowd erupted into cheers.

“You’re Number One for us,” declared Perez. “Since I began serving here two years ago, the Meco directors and I have only had your welfare in mind.”

* * *

WE HAD a glimpse of that brand of caring the night before, when Meco directors Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas and Jojo Mitra, accompanied by representatives of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Pag-Ibig Fund, and the SSS and Meco staff, visited with the workers of CMC Magnetics Inc., a manufacturer of Blu-Ray discs and DVDs.

Most of the workers there, about 600 of them, are Filipinos, and the ones we met had just ended their 12-hour shift before trooping back to their quarters in dorms in the same building. Arenas and Mitra had brought with them boxed dinners of  adobo  and rice for the workers, along with packs of “Boy Bawang,” a popular snack in the country, T-shirts and pocket calendars.

“We want to know what your problems are and see how we can help,” said Arenas before making the rounds of the tables of workers gathered in the factory canteen. “Don’t think twice about calling Meco and the other offices charged with looking after you,” she added, “it is our government’s goal to see to it that every Filipino lives peacefully and has peace of mind.”

“We are not candidates,” added Mitra, who hails in fact from that storied political family. “We just want to see how we can make things better.” But, he added, he was struck when, while chatting with a small group of male workers and he asked how they were doing, their reply was a simple “surviving.”

After sharing the hotline numbers of OWWA and other relevant offices, the Meco directors and staff then invited everyone to share “how we can improve things for you in Taiwan.”

* * *

ONE message that Arenas shared with the workers was the importance of registering as a voter for next year’s elections, and then taking the time on Election Day to come out and fill up one’s ballot.

“If you don’t vote, then you lose the right to complain,” she reminded the workers. “As voters, you have the right to demand performance from our elected officials and hold them responsible. But if you don’t do your duty, then officials can just ignore you.”

Before leaving, Arenas and Mitra promised to tape the Pacquiao-Marquez fight and send a copy posthaste to CMC Magnetics, so that the Filipino workers there could watch it on their work breaks. But this was at a time when most everyone, but especially Filipinos, was anticipating a decisive Pacman rout.

It could go either of two ways: the sight of Pacquiao lying face down on the canvas could dampen the spirit of Pinoys struggling against lonely, difficult conditions just to “survive”; or the ability of Pacquiao to rise to his feet despite the devastating blow could just spur the rest of his country folk to do even better, wherever they are in this world.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Other Stories:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=42537

Tags: column , Manny Pacquiao , ofws , Rina Jimenez-David

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Sayyaf man linked to Sipadan kidnapping falls
  • Drilon calls for sobriety as mudslinging, witch hunts loom due to pork scam
  • S. Korea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
  • If Napoles names Aquino allies, they’ll be brought to bar of justice – Palace
  • Lacson says diamond-studded earring snatched from wife fake
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Marketplace