MANNY Pacquiao writing finis to a storied career carries with it several implications.
Circa 2000, before Pacquiao came out of nowhere to pancake Lehnoholo Ledwaba, Philippine boxing was nothing too spectacular.
Sure, we had great champions like Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Peñalosa, who were doing quite well and making themselves known on the world stage.
Prior to that, the best fighter to come out of our shores was universally recognized to be Gabriel “Flash” Elorde who hails from Bogo City, Cebu
FLAGSHIP. But as accomplished as Peñalosa and Espinosa were at that time, none of them had the capacity to become the flagship fighter of the sport itself.
By flagship, I am referring to someone who can become the best fighter in the world and carry the sport on his shoulders.
Manny achieved that and what was surprising about that, was that even us, his countrymen, were just as pleasantly askance about how he bulldozed his way through several weight classes and decimated elite fighters with unparalleled ease.
IMPACT. While he was doing it, the Filipino nation united behind him and revelled vicariously in each victory as if it was our collective effort as a race.
Every time Manny fought, crime came to a grounding halt. That means even the miscreants among us had to stop whatever shenanigans they had up their sleeves to watch him do his thing.
Every time he grimaced after absorbing a lethal punch, we grunted. Every time his head got snapped back, we closed our eyes in fear.
One time, I watched a fight at one of the SM theaters just to get a feel of what it was like, and I saw people hugging, giving each other high fives as if they were bosom buddies and not strangers sharing seats on an aisle. It was ephemeral but truly fulfilling in a way.
A common pastime would be comparing what dishes you were preparing for that Sunday brunch as everybody trooped to a person’s house to watch the pay-per-view. It became a communal event every time Manny fought and even for just a few hours, we truly became a community again as we rallied behind every jab, every punch.
All the foregoing will now be part of our collective, albeit pleasant memories.
POLITICS. Unfortunately, like everything else in life, politics usually ruins a good thing.
I dare say that had Manny stuck to boxing only, he would have performed even better on the world stage. But things happen for a reason and that’s that.
Manny’s retirement is precipitated partly by his decline due to age and wear and tear, but to me the final straw was his decision to vie for the highest position in the land.
But this early, let me be among the first to say that should he be unsuccessful, expect him to come back and fight a farewell match.
You see, it’s a thing among fighters, that itch to punch. And that itch needs to be scratched. And when you get paid gazillions to do some scratching, that’s too hard to resist.
Because he is what he is, Pac-Man can’t resist eating those power pellets.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my “agaw,” the ever-prolific Atty. Franklin Quijano who recently celebrated his birthday. God bless and good luck on all your endeavors. Cheers!