And now, Pacquiao for Congress

Just wanted to share this article on Manny Pacquiao and Philippine Politics from BusinessWorld written by Greg B. Macabenta.

And now, Pacquiao for Congress

A few months ago, upon learning of the upcoming match between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar de la Hoya, I wrote a piece entitled, “The Pacquiao Principle.” Like the Peter Principle, it was about moving up to one’s level of incompetence. I held out Pacquiao as a prime example.

Sounding like an oracle, I stated, “As great a slugger as Pacquiao is, this could be his Flash Elorde to a Carlos Ortiz. Do you recall how the great Elorde valiantly but vainly fought Puerto Rican lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz twice and twice lost, the second time by a 14th-round knockout?

“If Pacquiao couldn’t dodge the rapid-fire fists of Juan Manuel Marquez, just managing to pull off a win because he knocked Marquez down in an early round, I can’t imagine how he’ll manage to survive the longer reach and equally lightning-fast fists of De la Hoya.”

Of course, ever loyal to our national sports hero, I added: “Nonetheless, my heart goes out to the Pambansang Kamao. Whatever his reasons are for wanting to fight a bigger, taller man in a heavier weight class, it certainly takes a lot of courage to do so. And if he should do so, I have no doubt that he will lose the way Elorde did. But Pacquiao will fight a bloody fight and will not back off from the heaviest pummeling imaginable. He will lose with honor. And for that, the Peter Principle will NOT be renamed after him.”

In fact, I coined the “Pacquiao Principle” in connection with his other announced plan, which was to run for political office.

I wasn’t being contemptuous of Pacquiao but of the company that he would keep if he went into politics.

“It’s not being unable to speak Ateneo English or not having a law degree that would make Pacquiao move up to his level of incompetence, thus wresting the title of The Principle from Peter,” I wrote. “Rather, it is in the area of learning and mastering the dirty tricks, cheating, stealing, killing and being completely immoral. It is in the area of having no loyalty, no word of honor, no compunctions about telling a lie. These are the qualities that make for success in Philippine politics. Does Pacquiao have the guts to swallow all of that?”

Well, last Saturday, I was ecstatically happy to be proven wrong on the first part of my attempts to prophesy, when I watched the fight on closed-circuit TV at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada.

I should point out that, not being a Philippine public official like Noli de Castro and Lito Atienza, I could not afford the stratospheric entrance fee at the MGM in Las Vegas. The Grand Sierra, on the other hand, offered a deal too sweet to refuse: $54 for a stay of two nights, with four free breakfast buffets plus one free dinner buffet plus $25 in playing credits plus another $10 in playing credits for applying for a player card plus another $5 in playing credits for waiting patiently in line at the counter plus reserved seating with finger food at the Pearl Lounge to watch the fight on a giant screen.

With the price of gasoline plummeting to $1.69 per gallon from $4.30 only a couple of months ago, the offer was difficult to refuse. And so we, family members and friends, drove off to Reno to vicariously enjoy what Noli de Castro and Lito Atienza were going to watch live. We watched the fight along with several dozen cheerers, split almost evenly between Pinoys and Mexicans, with a few neutral onlookers thrown in.

It was supposed to be a Dream Match. It turned out to be a nightmare for De la Hoya. As sportscaster Larry Merchant put it, while sadly shaking his head, he had expected to see a duel between two great fighters. It turned out to be a fight featuring one great fighter and another one who didn’t quite live up to the billing.

More than enough has been said about how Pacquiao completely dominated De la Hoya from the first round up to the end of the eighth. You couldn’t blame the Golden Boy turned Tin Soldier for declaring, “No mas,” rather than be laid out ignominiously flat on the canvass.

One of the sportscasters had a unique way of describing Pacquiao’s pummeling of De la Hoya. He said that the Pinoy Powerhouse was “reconfiguring De la Hoya’s handsome face.”

At the end of the fight, one of the more boisterous Mexican guests, who had been proudly wearing a jacket emblazoned with his country’s colors, resignedly took it off and then gamely shook our hands as if to say, “Yours was the better man.”

And this brings me to the second part of my Pacquiao Principle.

Having reached my own level of incompetence as a sports oracle, I am prepared, like that sportsmanlike Mexican, to revisit my view of Manny Pacquiao, not only in terms of his ability to fight bigger and more celebrated fighters but also in connection with his obsession to become a politician.

It has to be admitted that Pacquiao has carried himself with dignity and humility amidst his international fame and his fantastic fortune. Lesser individuals would have succumbed to arrogance and bohemian excess.

I recall how Rolando Navarrete, after having just won a world boxing title, promptly got himself into trouble with the law, in a rape case, no less. I also know of many otherwise respectful and decent individuals who got blinded by sudden popularity and wealth.

And most of all, we know of many, hitherto honest and dedicated lawyers and professionals who became insatiable power-mad thieves upon assuming political office.

Pacquiao has demonstrated a remarkable level-headedness, an ability to balance his awesome superiority in the ring with an almost na�ve mantra about upholding the honor of his country and his countrymen. When he told De la Hoya, shortly after the latter threw up his hands in surrender, “You are still my idol!”, it was vintage Pacquiao rather than the insincere quip of a politician-cum-used-car-salesman.

Which brings me to the point that some of us may want to consider: that Pacquiao could make a better public servant — certainly a more honest one — than most of the members of the House of Representatives, a chamber of Arroyo lapdogs and opportunists obsessed with remaining in power.

And having suffered through the convoluted logic and carabao English of many of these poor excuses for solons (a word derived from Solomon, the epitome of wisdom), I am prepared to concede that Pacquiao has more brains than he has been given credit for. And his methodical approach to winning a fight, even against big odds, could well apply to helping solve the problems of our hapless country.

Yes, Pacquiao for Congress. Why not?

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