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At Large

Pacman’s perils

/ 10:56 PM December 28, 2013

The special report on the financial woes of Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao carries with it moral and object lessons on the perils of sudden wealth and inconstant friends.

But it isn’t exactly a surprise. So far, the story has been following the trajectory of most “overnight success” stories. Track the common thread: the long and difficult struggle to achieve one’s goals, the heady rise to success and financial triumph, the challenges and disappointments that follow, and an ignominious end in poverty, obscurity and abandonment.

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I am praying this will not be the fate to befall the Sarangani representative. There is still time to reverse direction, to correct mistakes, pay the right taxes to both the US and Philippine governments, and modify a lifestyle that is proving much too expensive to maintain, even if one has eight world boxing titles to one’s name.

Of course this is easier said than done. I for one have not been subjected to the same temptations, and consequently have not enjoyed—nor expect to enjoy—the same level of wealth and excess. So I, and I guess the majority of us, will never know how we will deal with these problems, if we could summon the discipline, self-denial, and self-control that we now demand of the Pacquiaos.

But while I generally sympathize with the couple, I am turned off by the Pacman’s propensity to blame others for his self-imposed woes. Why this readiness to blame his hardships on “politics”? Why the refusal to scrutinize—at least publicly—the operations of his financial advisers and managers? And why not admit to possible lapses and shortcomings now that these have been exposed?

Most disgusting is his eagerness to clothe himself in the mantle of “martyr” and “hero” each time he gets in conflict with the law. Why use even the survivors of “Yolanda” to excuse his lapses, and to blame the authorities for presuming to raise questions about his tax liabilities?

* * *

According to a report, “thousands” of workers in the devastated areas of Eastern Visayas lost their jobs after the establishments they worked for closed down in the wake of Yolanda.

The regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment reported that more than 19,000 workers had been rendered jobless, based on the initial assessment of businesses affected by the supertyphoon.

What has been the government’s response to this crisis of employment in Eastern Visayas? Dismayingly, say some labor nongovernment organizations, the response has been to hold “job fairs” in the affected areas, with most of the positions offered being overseas employment.

True, given the devastation that employers—in both the public and private sectors—have had to endure, there may indeed be very few jobs available to survivors. But is shipping off workers to employers abroad the only solution to this crisis?

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With many of the employable taking up positions in foreign destinations—with the government paving the way—who will be left to carry out the all-important work of rebuilding and reconstructing the devastated areas?

* * *

I wonder what reconstruction “czar” Ping Lacson has to say about this potential diaspora of the most able and productive survivors of the Yolanda devastation? How will he, for one, marshal the people’s energy to rebuild Tacloban and other areas from the ground if the “best and brightest” in the region have been exported to jobs abroad?

Observers also point out that these survivors are still recovering from the trauma of the disaster. Would relocation and displacement be the best solution to their emotional situation? Would it not be better for them to take part in and witness the rebuilding of their hometowns and places of work?

True, the employment crisis cannot be solved overnight, and officials are hard put to find the easiest and fastest solution to the situation of joblessness. It may be very well for outsiders to advise caution and rethinking of deployment as a solution to the loss of livelihoods.

But perhaps we still have time for second thoughts and for exploring alternative solutions, especially since the work of recovery and rebuilding is about to take off. Flight may be a signal of loss of hope, and by convincing the workers to stay and help in the work of building a better tomorrow, the government may in fact be sending a message of hope and recovery.

* * *

It’s a good thing P-Noy has seen fit to take a few days off and hie off to Baguio for some needed “R&R” in this hiatus between the Christmas and the New Year celebrations.

Malacañang has gone out of its way to justify the President’s vacation by citing Health Secretary Enrique Ona’s longstanding advice to him to take a break, especially given the daunting challenges he has faced in the last few months. Unforgiving critics may raise their eyebrows and question P-Noy’s devotion to duty. But even they, I suppose, need some time off for themselves, and only the most cynical—or hypocritical—would deny this very human and real need.

All of us need a break now and then, the time and space to turn off the daily demands of livelihood and responsibility and find the opportunity to renew and refresh. This is replenishment of both energy and spirit, and recovery not just of tired bodies but also of troubled minds and hearts.

So to the President: Go ahead and enjoy your leisure and rest. Listen to all the CDs you’ve collected, go out on excursions to places you’ve wanted to see or to activities you enjoy. This is advice applicable to everyone as well, so long as we return to work with renewed drive and commitment to the duty we’ve assumed.

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TAGS: At Large, Manny Pacquiao, opinion, Rina Jimenez-David
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