POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 18 November 2010, Thursday
Pacman and Pinoy Pride
Galit talaga si Pacman sa guwapo. When he’s up against handsome foes, he rearranges their faces into less attractive patterns.
That’s one of the many witticisms buzzing in the grapevines after Sarangani congressman and champion boxer Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory in the ring. His masterful control of the prizefight againstAntonio Margarito of Mexico impressed the denizens of spectators at the Texas venue and all around the world.
The event promotional poster. Image from here.
And Filipinos, true to form, busted out with the wisecracks after the win. (It would have been a different story if Pacquiao had lost.) Upon seeing Margarito’s face swell to twice normal size during the beating he took from Pacquiao, friends I watched the fight with said, “His last name suits him – maga rito. At maga roon.”
Kidding aside, it was obvious before the fight that Pacquiao would have to work hard for this win. Kibitzing with officemates last Friday, I predicted that it would be a Pacquiao win by unanimous decision in 12 rounds. My friends were all for KO or TKO. But Margarito had the weight and height advantage, and was sturdy and robust compared to that peanut brittle Ricky Hatton, who went down under Pacquiao’s pokes – those weren’t even serious punches – in the second round.
At the pre-fight weigh-in. Image from here.
Manny would have to wear down the Tijuana Tornado; and he did it like the worst tropical typhoon that ever devastated a landscape, drowning Margarito under a barrage of blows to the kisser and quenching the fire of his long-armed jabs.
A Los Angeles-based Filipino friend, Ray San Juan, said of the fight: “It was like Zen watching Manny control the game. He was like water, just flowing with the energies of the match, as opposed to Margarito’s listless flat-footedness.”
Margarito tried to defend himself, but in vain; the accuracy of Manny’s punches were such that his glove would ram in between Margarito’s arms that were shielding his face.
First one of Margarito’s eyes swelled, then blood flowed from a cut, then the other eye ballooned, as did his bruised cheeks. After a Pacquiao makeover, Margarito’s own mother wouldn’t have recognized him.
“I really punished his face,” said Manny in the after-fight interview. Yet Manny had no stomach for his handiwork; he looked pleadingly at the referee to end the fight, full of pity for his determined foe, but Margarito, peeking through puffy eyelids, declared he would soldier on. Pacquiao would have wanted a fight stoppage to spare Margarito any further injury. “Boxing is not for killing each other,” he declared.
The Pacman Makeover: De La Hoya, Diaz, Hatton, Cotto, and Margarito after their bouts with Pacquiao. Image from here.
They fought a good fight. Both are valiant warriors, excellent examples of specialists of the sweet science. They persevered though beset with challenges – Margarito and his obvious dehydration, a factor that contributed to his weakness and slowness; Pacquiao and his weight gain to move up a class.
At the finish, viewers were left with admiration for Margarito’s grit and Pacquiao’s matchless strength, speed, and skill. Ray added, “Even the Mexicans at the sportsbar where we viewed it cheered for Pacquiao.”It’s great to hear about them cheering for the Pinoy Mexicutioner. It’s obvious they know a great thing when they see it. The admiration for the strong, speedy, and skillful transcends national boundaries.
Margarito cowers beneath the onslaught of Pacquiao’s punches. Image from here.
But Margarito didn’t let Manny get off unscathed. Pacquiao had to see a doctor after the fight to have his ribs checked out, the area Margarito kept raining with blows. The physician gave him a clean bill of health, but this is a lesson to Manny not to be complacent. He said in an interview that as early as the second round, he knew he could control the fight.
If so, then he should have finished it early, to reduce the risk of injury to himself and to his opponent. I met the great heavyweight prizefighter Muhammad Ali some years back, and he was a pitiful sight, hands shaking from Parkinson’s, unable to make eye contact. I’d rather not see Manny reduced to that. His own coach, Freddie Roach, a competent boxer himself, also suffers from that disease, which commonly afflicts boxers; if Manny would spare himself that by retiring soon his millions of fans would be happy. Anyway, he has a new job as a politician; why not settle into that?
Once again, Pacquiao has made the Philippines proud. But let us ask ourselves how much of our pride in Manny is genuine happiness for an extraordinarily talented individual, and how much of it is vicarious satisfaction. Manny works very hard for the fame and fortune he now enjoys; is it fair for an entire nation to ride on his coattails?
Let us, in our own various ways, eke out achievements that in themselves will bring honor to the country. I agree with my friend Ray when he says, “Manny will teach us one thing, [and that is] to push the envelope beyond our preconceived borders.”
I started my career as a sportswriter, and even back in the day, the local boxing stables were already full of pugilistic talent – Luisito Espinosa, Rolando Navarrete, and others. Perhaps all they needed was a Freddie Roach; if they had a coach as good, who truly cares for the wellbeing and success of his fighters, who knows what heights they could have reached?
Manny and Freddie after the 19 November 2009 fight against Miguel Cotto. Manny’s face is practically unmarred after going twelve rounds with Cotto; Freddie’s face shines with joy. Image from here.
In the same manner, stellar songbird Charice, another source of Filipino pride, had the good fortune of being discovered on Youtube and of being taken under the wing of starmaker David Foster.
But those are the breaks of the game, and it does not fall to everyone to enjoy such opportunities. Still, you’re one up on the competition when you’re prepared, therefore the extreme importance of a quality education and proper training for those seeking employment and entrepreneurship chances.
We cannot let the successes of individuals be our only source of national pride. When our entire country, through collective effort, has lifted itself up from the muck of corruption, complacency, and poverty; when consistency and fairness mark the justice system; when human rights are respected and all are deemed equal under the law; when all that’s amiss is fixed, then we can truly be proud of ourselves as Filipinos. ***