I had envied Manny Pacquiao. To have had the awe, the reverence and esteem of every Filipino was a formidable gift from the heavens. Our streets are empty when there is a Pacquiao fight. In fact, the crime rates go down. Every Filipino is glued to the screen, in wonder and respect, watching their idol battle his foe. But what has Manny Pacquiao done with fame? With his gold and his might? Yes he makes the sign of the cross at every fight and ends with “Praise the Lord” at every win but yet, what gift has he bequeathed to every Filipino who watches his every move? That having gone from rags to riches, his mother now wears a Birkin? That his wife has built her dream house? Or that if you have money and fame, you can run for Congress? Forget that you’re a boxer and the only thing you know about politics are the congressmen who watch your games. And especially, that he neglects the sheer power of his words, quoting the Bible to diminish his fellowmen as worse than animals.
I have often wished Manny Pacquiao would wake up from his fantasy world and realize that his power is not lordship over money and fame, it is not his closeness to his Creator. His power lies in his capacity to move people to goodness, to greatness, to being more than what they think they are. To have their own “rags to riches” stories. Not in gold or in the bliss of finally buying your every whim and fancy. Not in another feather in your cap. And especially not in a warrant to say what you will. Those are mere spoils of war. Manny Pacquiao should be an inspiring story about fighting his way out of poverty, of training and perseverance, struggling against adversity, opponent after opponent, and conquering them. It should be words on the joy of conquering one’s fears and then emerging your battled, weary, and scarred but highest self. Instead, Pacquiao trivializes his legacy with mansions, a seat in the House, and twiddling with the truth and humanity, as though just another opponent to slaughter.