By Gel Santos Relos
"Manny Pacquiao makes us proud to be Filipinos because through his example he reminds us of the strength, values, and all the potentials we already have deep within us despite our limitations and circumstances — just waiting, yearning, craving to be nurtured to fruition."
Our Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao has once again made history after defeating Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito in the Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas last November 13. He is the first boxer ever in the world to win ten world titles in eight different weight divisions. Manny Pacquiao is also the first boxer in history to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes—the “man who beat the man”, the boxer who defeated the reigning boxing champion in these four different weight divisions!
Pacquiao has been called the “David who defeated the Goliath”, as his Mexican opponent was 17 pounds heavier than him. But the speed, agility, and power punches of the Pacman proved far stronger than the height and weight advantage of Margarito. Many people all over the world, including sports analysts, boxing experts and commentators agree that Manny Pacquiao is indeed the greatest boxer in the world, even far greater than the Muhammad Ali if you ask boxing promoter Bob Arum.
But no people can be more proud than us, Filipinos. We watched the fight in our usual fiesta way. We prayed, laughed, shivered in fear and excitement, cheered and became euphoric when Pacquiao won via unanimous decision on the 12th round. Many kababayans used the magic of modern technology like twitter, facebook, phone calls, SKYPE to be united in time and space wherever in the world we might be. We were ecstatic, euphoric, and brimming with Filipino pride.
This special moment was likewise seized by a segment of our kababayans who loathe “Filipino pride” and any joyful national celebration of victories of our kababayans. They immediately jumped in the global conversation to exclaim, “Those who keep saying “I am Proud to be a Filipino” when Manny Pacquiao wins are Morons!” arguing Pacquiao’s victory is only his and not the Philippines’.
There are also some kababayans who were not happy with the result despite Manny’s win because they were expecting a “knock out”! Some say they lost money because they made a bet the Pacman will win by a knock out, and were disappointed he did not make Margarito sleep!
The truth is, Margarito was already wasted in the last two rounds and Pacquiao could have knocked him out but he didn’t. In fact, he even called the attention of the referee that maybe it was time to stop the fight because he was worried about Margarito. But the fight continued and so Pacquiao held back his punches, and let the game end without inflicting anymore damaging pain on Margarito.
Through this compassionate act, Pacquiao reminded the world that boxing is not supposed to kill people, but a sport that is meant to entertain people. Manny Pacquiao has exemplified true sportsmanship through his adherence to fairness, utmost respect for his opponent, and his graciousness and humility in his victory!
And Antonio Margarito taught us a lesson in perseverance, strong will and sacrifice. Despite the pain, the blood shed and the imminent defeat, Margarito did not quit and pushed himself to fight until the very end. These are the very virtues we admire in many of the Mexicans in America, notwithstanding issues about immigration status.
Finally, I would like to share with you an excerpt of one of the best commentaries I have read on Pacquiao and the Filipino people, written by an American--Michael D. Sellers-- on his blogsite:
“Those of us who have connections to the Philippines have followed Manny Pacquiao for many years and we’ve heard him say things like this, and act in this humble, gentle manner, more than just last night — so this is not news for us. But as the rest of the world gradually wakes up and takes notice of Pacquaio as a sporstman who transcends national boundaries and the niche of boxing, it is also worth remembering that while on the one hand what we see in Manny is unique, in another way it is not, because what we see in him is an essential Philippine character that typifies the elusive best of a country whose people’s humble and gentle virtues are not particularly well understood abroad.
This is, after all, a world where, for example, some countries have adopted the term “filipina” to be slang for “housekeeper”. It’s easy for ignorant westerners to underestimate and misinterpret the gentle, gracious nature of the Filipino character; Manny Pacquaio is single-handedly changing that, reminding both the world and the Philippine universe that humility, grace, compassion, and empathy can coexist with the heart of a warrior.
Yet even if Filipinos understand this better than we foreigners — we should also remember that Pacquaio’s popularity in the Philippines, great as it is, did not automatically win him a berth in Congress. He ran two years ago and lost badly. Some said it was a cynical “no” vote so he would keep fighting; for others, the “no” was a desire keep Pacquiao from becoming tarnished by the dirty nature of Philippine politics.
But he didn’t give up, he showed patience and perseverance and sincerity, and he continued to talk about his real reasons for doing it — and along the way many of the skeptics who saw in his first run for Congress an act of celebrity ego began to gradually come to understand that it was another impulse, the impulse toward genuine and sincere public service, that was driving Pacquiao.” (MichaelDSellers.com)
Yes, Manny Pacquiao makes us proud to be Filipinos because through his example he reminds us of the strength, values, and all the potentials we already have deep within us despite our limitations and circumstances — just waiting, yearning, craving to be nurtured to fruition. Let us all awaken that Manny Pacquiao spirit within us, and together we will soar as one great people, one great nation!
(To Be Published in Asian Journal, November 17, 18, 19 2010)