KINGS ARE NOT FOREVER
By Manny Piņol
04 Sep 2005
On the eve of my first birthday as Governor of the Province of North Cotabato in 1998, I learned of a plan by the employees of the provincial government to serenade me at dawn in a traditional ritual called "maņanita," an honor bestowed on the highest official of a political territory.
At about 4 a.m. of the official's birth date, employees and supporters would gather in front of his home and sing songs to greet him on his birthday and to pray for more blessings.
I immediately sought out the leader of the group and asked her: "Will you still serenade me on my birthday even when I would no longer be the Governor of this province?"
There was a bewildered look in her face. She was dumbfounded so I supplied the answer: "Of course, you will not. Thank you but please don't do it. I might get used to it and I would miss it when I would no longer be governor."
I am now on my 8th year as Governor of Cotabato but in all of these years I have never allowed people to delude me into believing that I will be governor forever.
Nothing is forever. Colors fade. Even the mightiest of trees die. Kings do not rule for eternity.
Alas, some people do not realize this.
In one plane ride from Manila to Bacolod, I sat beside Manny Pacquiao. I was on my way to a meeting with Negros Oriental Governor George Arnaiz. Manny was bound for Bacolod to buy fighting roosters.
I have always looked at Manny as a younger brother or even a son. We have the same baptismal name. Our birthdays are a day apart. He was born Dec. 15, a day before my birthday. Besides, I was also involved in promoting at least three of his fights during his rough and rainy years.
In our hour-long conversation, I reminded Manny to save for the rainy days. "Boxing is a cruel sport. Money will only come when you are still young and winning. It will become scarce when you start losing. And along with the scarcity of money, you will also find out that the people around you who sing hallelujah and call you the greatest, will soon disappear."
I also warned Manny about his propensity to bet big in cockfighting reminding him that big names like Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco and former PBA Commissioner Rudy Salud, both moneyed men, only bet as much as P5,000 per rooster. I have heard Manny bets as much as P500,000 on one rooster.
I also advised him against pitting the roosters himself inside the ring because he could be accidentally injured by the very sharp knife and it would sideline him for at least a year.
The good thing about Manny Pacquiao is he listens. Whether he will take the lessons to heart is another question.
But he will only have to look at the fate of other former world champions for him to fully understand the meaning of all the lessons I was trying to impart on him.
Rolando Navarrete lives like a pauper. Luisito Espinosa has been abandoned by his friends and even his wife. The latest news said his wish to fight again has been stopped by the California Boxing Commission because of a string of very bad losses that he suffered.
Louie is lucky because while he was abandoned by most of those who benefitted from his illustrious boxing career, many people still love him.
To show our love for Louie, I, Recah Trinidad, Hermie Rivera, Commissioner Al Fernandez and a few friends in boxing will stage on October 22 a benefit boxing event for the former world champion.
The card will feature the Philippine lightweight championship between titlist Fernando Montilla and challenger Dexter Delada and the Philippine jr. bantamweight title defense for champion Eric Barcelona.
Mindanao's upcoming boxers will also be featured in the card.
All the ticket sales will go to a fund for Luisito Espinosa, a victim of a great injustice when he was not paid his purse in his fight against Argentina's Carlos Rios in South Cotabato 10 years ago. The money raised could be used to finance his legal battle to claim some P7-million in unpaid prize money.
Manny Pacquiao certainly has saved a lot for himself and his family. But stories like Navarrete's and Luisito's should be constant reminders for him that he will not be young for a long time.
Champions are dethroned, Kings are not forever.
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