By Gel Santos Relos
If there is anyone who still has doubts about the powerful influence of our Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao, particularly among Filipinos in every corner of the world, then the fourth bout between the Pacman and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez must have already knocked that out for good.
After Pacquiao was knocked out by Marquez in the sixth round, we found our iconic boxing hero unconscious and motionless -- his face facing the floor. The Pacman lost, and so was the morale of many Filipinos. Trying to make sense of this painful defeat, kababayans from all over the world bantered endlessly for days, and there we find the testament to how Manny Pacquiao has that power to make religion, politics, and metaphysics collide!
Exhibit A: Metaphysics and the cosmic energy
Mitt Romney was reported to have sat in the front row at the MGM Grand Garden to watch the bout along with his wife, Ann. Just two hours before Pacquiao walked to the ring to fight Marquez, Romney reportedly went to Pacquiao's dressing room, extended his hand to Pacquiao and said, "Hi Manny. I ran for president and lost."
Some Filipinos theorized that Romney must have rubbed off his bad karma to Pacquiao through that handshake. Moreover, the words Romney uttered to Pacquiao was said to have echoed vibrations of defeat, pulling down the Pacman’s winning energy.
As staunch Obama supporter and Fil-Am community leader Rodel Rodis wrote, “If Romney visits you before a fight and reminds you he lost the elections, is that pep talk from him going to inspire you to win?”
Exhibit B: Politics and sports? 'Tubig at langis'
Many kababayans (especially those who do not believe in Manny Pacquiao’s qualification and mettle to hold any position in government) present this recent loss, as evidence that boxing and politics do not mix.
They argue that Manny has become the greatest boxer of his time, because he was focused on his being a sportsman. He dedicated all his time and energy in training for his fight.
When he entered politics, many Filipinos said our Pambansang Kamao has lost his edge as a boxer. They also said he has also proven his detractors right- that he would be a mediocre, if not bad, elected Congressman of Sarangani.
They contended that the Pacman has notoriously earned the dishonor of being one of the Members of the House of Representatives with the most number of absences. Moreover, he reportedly did not have any bills yet enacted into law that would help the people of Sarangani.
These Filipinos say Manny Pacquiao has to choose -- be a boxer or a politician. Even his own mother, Aling Dionisia, said after the fight: “Kung ako magdedesisyon, gusto ko magpahinga na si Manny, relax na lang siya. Politician ang anak ko, doon na lang siya magserbisyo.
Exhibit C : No separation between religion and sports
It is more fun in the Philippines, we all say. Everything is just interconnected. We cannot even separate religion from politics. What makes us think we can remove religion from sports? Not even Manny’s equally famous mother Nanay Dionisia thinks so.
Aling Dionisia (fondly called Mommy D) blames her son’s change of religion for his loss. Pacquiao is no longer a Catolico cerrado, and is now a Born-again Christian.
After Manny’s two successive losses, feisty Mommy D passionately said in an interview with DZMM: “Gusto ko wag niyang iwanan ang sign of the cross kasi yan ang nakayaman sa kanya noon, ang dami ng panalo niya.”
Manny used to wear his rosary when he enters the ring, makes the sign of the cross, kisses the crucific before taking it off just before Round 1 in every fight before he became a Born-again Christian.
"Nalungkutan ko lang parang kulang ensayo ng anak ko, pirmi busy reading Bible sa bahay. Kulang ang ensayo niya, bising-busy talaga siya....Kailangan face-to-face ang ibigay sa Diyos na galing ng puso, na totoong-totoo na walang kapalit ang pagdasal natin," the mother lamented.
"Gusto kong ibalik niya ang dati niya. Tutal ang Catholic naman, wala naman naghihingi ng araw-araw magsimba, isang oras lang hiningi ng Diyos," added Mommy Dionisia. (Watch Mommy Dionisia unleash her sentiment about Manny's leaving the Catholic faith:)
AT ANO ANG SABI NI MANNY?
How Manny’s greatness as a sportsman shines even in his loss
After Marquez was declared the winner, Manny Pacquiao was reported to be the first Filipino in the MGM arena to smile. He reached out to Marquez and congratulated him.
The Pacman also offered no excuses for his defeat, other than his self-deprecating statement that he must have been overconfident, that was why he lost.
Indeed, our Pambansang Kamao, Manny Pacquiao, has once again showed us why he is the greatest boxer of his time. He has demonstrated how he can be gracious in defeat, as much as in victory.
While the KO loss of Pacquiao to Marquez may have dampened the morale of many Filipinos, let us look at the big picture and remember all the honor he has earned and offered to the Philippines. As Wikipedia summarized: He is the first eight-division world champion in which he has won ten world titles, as well as the first to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes.
Manny Pacquiao is also a three-time The Ring and BWAA “Fighter of the Year,” winning the award in 2006, 2008 and 2009, and the Best Fighter ESPY Award in 2009 and 2011. He has also long been rated as the “best pound-for-pound boxer” in the world by some sporting news and boxing websites.
Amid all speculations and disappointments, Pacquiao issued the following statement: “First and foremost I would like to thank God for keeping Juan Manuel Márquez and me safe during our fight on Saturday night. I want to congratulate Juan Manuel. I have no excuses. It was a good fight and he deserved the victory. I think boxing fans, who watched us, were winners too."
“To all my fans, I would like to thank you for your prayers and assure you that I am fine. I am looking forward to a nice rest and then I will be back to fight. On behalf of Jinkee and our family we would like to wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy new year,” Pacquiao further said.