He wins, we lose
They say that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao still fighting at the age of 40 is putting himself in danger. I say Pacquiao fighting at an age past his prime is putting not only himself but all of us in danger. He may be the one who’s taking the punches, but this country mired deeply in poverty will earn the wrath of hell if Pacquiao, with the full backing of the present administration, succeeds in his political plans.
Aside from the millions of dollars he stands to make in facing Keith Thurman, Pacquiao is also fighting — seemingly with greater urgency — to be relevant. If he had retired, there would have been no buzz to hear next to his name. With little accomplishment to show but lots of embarrassing moments as a senator, he is kept relevant only, and still, by boxing. Take that thing away and Pacquiao’s star would have faded as fast as the 10-count winds down from a knockout.
And that is why I say we are in danger. For as long as he keeps fighting, and more so if he keeps winning under the narrative of doing it for his country, Pacquiao will continue to hold the poor and hungry masses in the palm of his hands, constantly reminding them of the debt of gratitude to be paid by someday voting for him to be President.
Indeed, it’s not just for the money or the sheer love of the sport, but also for the presidential dream — that is what fuels Pacquiao to get into the ring and not mind getting bashed in the head, at an age when most boxers would have thrown in the towel. In the not so distant past, Pacquiao for President sounded like a ridiculous proposition. But not today. Not in this day and age of steeply lowered standards, when decency and principles are routinely thrown out of the window as a small price to pay for political ambition.
If you think Pacquiao has no chance to be president, you must be one of those who predicted that Bong Revilla would lose during the last senatorial elections.
Politicians are extremely aware of how this current craze of much-diminished standards has been taking Philippine politics by storm, and that’s what makes them so excited and rabidly rooting for Pacquiao — because, after all, he was one of those who set the trend. Just look at what we have, our so-called political leadership from top to bottom, and you will understand that a major compromise at the expense of moral integrity has been force-fed to the electorate, which, regrettably, it also didn’t hesitate to swallow.
Pacquiao is part of the reason Rodrigo Duterte remains President, and Tito Sotto the Senate President; why Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa and, yes, Revilla were inspired and emboldened to run for the Senate, which perhaps leaves Pacquiao feeling too big to be just a “mere” senator.
Maybe he and his people feel he deserves no less than the presidency now. And so, he fights as an investment for his presidential ambition, an investment that has already paid dividends, not only to Pacquiao, but also to others who borrow from his fame one way or the other. His brother Bobby Pacquiao is already a congressman, a party list representative of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). For the record, Bobby has never been an OFW. Just because he fought in the United States and lost by knockout doesn’t make him one.
Pacquiao’s trainer Buboy Fernandez hit the political jackpot, too. A former street bum pushed into the boxing ring to become a trainer, he is now the vice mayor of Polangui, Albay, assuring him a fallback in politics if and when the time comes that the rest of Team Pacquiao needs to retire.
Anything can happen. Don’t be surprised if Pacman’s dog would run for public office, too. What the hell would it take to wake us up?
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Adel Abillar ([email protected]) is a private law practitioner with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.”
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