Just when I promised myself to quit writing about Manny Pacquiao, here comes another issue about him.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t hate Manny personally. I have nothing to gain or to lose by writing anything about, for, or against Manny Pacquiao. I’m entitled to a few opinions about him: one being that as far as one-dimensional boxers are concerned, he’s the best one-dimensional boxer in the world today. Another being that he’s a first-rate patriot, a second-rate nationalist, and a third-rate politician.
I think that getting fed up with Pacquiao – “Manny fatigue” – is not the reason why bloggers like myself are vocal in our contempt for him. To be honest, most Filipinos would never tire of Pacquiao’s blazing speed and boxing prowess, and they will never tire of his indiscretions and excesses outside the ring ropes. Manny gets himself into too much trouble: he digs too many holes and falls into them far too many times. Manny, as a public figure, is a lot like a Britney Spears or a Paris Hilton or a Lindsay Lohan: far from being the national icon that he was then, Manny Pacquiao is now the new national embarrassment.
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Glitchline and Tin Tinapay have already released the “Manny Pacquiao Scandal:” no, it’s not footage from “Anak ng Kumander” that involved torrid kissing scenes with Ara Mina and Valerie Concepcion (the latter appearing on “Entertainment Live” not too long ago in tears for whatever Pacman did to her), and Manny’s bad acting. Instead, Manny – wearing a striped pink shirt I will never have the guts to wear – is seen dancing with some hot chicks at Embassy Bar.
While you can’t really believe everything you see in the Internet, there’s just no denying that the guy wearing that hideous shirt (and gyrating with that girl clad in mucus green) is indeed the Philippines’ national boxing “hero.” I do graphic design on the side, and there’s no way you can tell me that it is possible with current and available technology to “edit” that picture to make someone else look like Manny.
Here’s the problem: Manny is idolized, if not venerated (without understanding, to invoke Renato Constantino), by the Filipino people. In “Anak ng Kumander,” he portrayed a man of great ideals and fervent passion: in his “scandal,” he presents himself to be a lesser man of worldly passions. Not that I’m preaching morals on Manny – who is more devout than I am – but is this something you would expect not only from a national icon, but from a married man?
I’m not saying that Manny is unattractive: maybe, just maybe, some women have developed a taste for his looks. But that’s a non-issue. Had Manny been single, there would have been a perfect excuse for him to do some thinly-disguised philandering at a bar. I feel for Jinky Pacquiao: being married to a hugely popular boxing superstar and entertainment icon is bad enough, and she had to put up with her husband being linked to so many showbiz personalities. I don’t know what would go on in her mind if she hears about this.
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Besides, there’s no denying the allegation that Manny has already become so pig-headed. Here’s a guy who slept in cardboard boxes as a kid. In his early days as a boxer, Manny didn’t fight for glory: he fought for something to put in his stomach. The soonest that Manny became this larger-than-life “superstar,” Manny was no longer the consummate pugilist: the decent boxer who did good, the kind of man who deserves a statue alongside the likes of Pancho Villa and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. The more that Manny commits self-imposed acts of character assassination, we who follow boxing become more exposed not only to his mistakes as a man, but his mistakes as a boxer.
Make no mistake about it: no matter how many Magic Sing microphones are sold all over the world carrying a karaoke version of “Para Sa ‘Yo Ang Laban Na ‘To,” Manny is, was, and forever will be a boxer. The soonest that Manny quit being a “boxer” and became a “superstar,” his boxing talent diminished. What grandness, what pride would it have been if Manny took extra miles in his practice to legitimately knock out Erik Morales.
You have rising stars like Boom Boom Bautista and AJ Banal who shy away from the glitz and glamor of entertainment, and are making shockwaves everywhere. Not because of their “scandals,” but because they are honing themselves in the gym, guided by some hope that one day, they’ll be like Manny Pacquiao. You have young men working out in gyms, fighting for loose change in rundown arenas with sunken canvasses and sagging ropes, hoping that one day, they’ll be like Manny Pacquiao.
I beg to differ.
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You might be telling yourselves that I’m just one of them gnat-like bloggers: pests who misinterpret the right to publicly-disclosed information. “Pseudo-journalists” who don’t have editorial policies. You might even say that we leech upon Manny’s popularity (or anyone else’s, for that matter) and destroy his public life because we have nothing better to do on idle afternoons.
Of course I am, but at the same time, I’m not. You see, like every Filipino, I once had the utmost respect for Manny Pacquiao. I believed in Manny Pacquiao. I placed bets not against Manny, but for Manny. I overlooked every mistake he made in the ring and believed that this was going to be a short, exciting fight worth my bet.
They say that the boxer must lord things over in two rings: the boxing ring that wins you championships, and the boxing ring that is life itself. Manny is winning the first few rounds of the boxing ring that is life: he’s getting money, undivided attention, and indiscreet trips to Embassy. But what of his public life, his family life, his place in history? No one knows for sure. But the history books right now are writing that one part of Manny’s history that we should all look forward to forgetting: Superstar Manny. Rockstar Manny. And when it all comes down, when all the lights go out and the fans start leaving, there really ain’t no such thing.
That ain’t all that goes with being a rock star. Ah, Cypress Hill.