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LIKE JOSE RIZAL, MANNY PACQUIAO WILL BE REVERED AND REMEMBERED BY FILIPINOS 100 YEARS FROM NOW


PhilBoxing.com




(This column was posted Dec. 1, 2008. I am reposting it again for the benefit of those who were not able to read it.)

One hundred years from now when our faces will just be faint images in the memories of our great great grandchildren and our names will just be alphabetical inscriptions in our moss-covered tombstones, Filipinos will remember Manny Pacquiao just as our generation recall and glorify the heroism of Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado.

The Rizalists may exclaim: "Blasphemy!" They would have every right to complain if Manny Pacquiao were compared to Jose Rizal in the context of the national hero's ultimate sacrifice -- dying for the his country and people.

Indeed, they are two contrasting personas.

Rizal came from a rich family which showered him with love and support. Pacquiao was a street kid who was abandoned by his father as a young boy and who had to struggle to survive in the concrete jungles of the Big City.

Rizal was highly educated while Pacquiao is still struggling to earn a college degree. The hero was a literary genius whose writings in Spanish have been translated to many languages; the boxing icon has just written his first column in English and the experts are still trying to dissect his grammar.

The national hero sacrificed not because somebody was paying him or he was expecting anything in return. He did it out of his love for country. The boxing hero trains hard and fights because there are promoters who are willing to pay him millions of dollars.

In the face of these gaping differences, why am I saying that Manny Pacquiao will be remembered like Jose Rizal 100 years from now?

It is because of the impact of both men on the lives of the Filipino people and the country as a whole. It is because they came into being and lived during the most trying times of our country's history and somehow provided hope, comfort and inspiration to a suffering people.

Jose Rizal walked the earth and enlightened the minds of the Filipinos who were held in bondage and subservience by the Spaniards for 300 years. His death inspired a revolution that eventually gave birth to our nation.

Manny Pacquiao came into the public conciousness at a time when the Filipinos are looking down at themselves, even laughing at themselves. He came at a time when his countrymen seem hopeless in the face of massive corruption in public service and unprecedented degree of condescension and mistrust on government.

Pacquiao's public display of love and respect to a father who abandoned him as a young boy is a life drama that every Filipino would like to be replayed time and again. His obedience to his mother and concern for his siblings; his efforts to keep his family intact in spite of his publicly-known escapades; his humility and willingness to forgive those who have wronged him make every Filipino proud that he is a Filipino.

Pacquiao came at a time when the nation is fractious and with the magic of his fists, aptly called "Pambansang Kamao," unites Filipinos from all walks of life, from difrferent time zones and from divergent political persuasions.

(Even a lawyer of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a rebel group which has tagged me as their No. 1 enemy, shook my hand and told me: "We may be on different sides, but we are one with you in supporting Manny Pacquiao.")

Such is the magic of Manny Pacquiao that qualifies him to be a hero of this generation. Not only does he stand out now as the greatest, and richest, Filipino athlete of all time, he will be remembered as the street kid and a child abandoned who survived amidst the adversity to rise and become the best example of the indomitable spirit of the Filipino.

On Dec. 6, for Filipinos all over the world, time will stand still, as they once again will witness the most inspiring spectacle of their lifetime.

The result of the fight will not matter. Win or lose, Manny Pacquiao has already been raised in the pedestal of inspiration by the Filipino people.

From Las Vegas, Nevada to the four corners of the world, Filipinos will shout until their voice is hoarse: "P A C Q U I A O O O O! P A C Q U I A O O O O! P A C Q U I A O O O O!

That sound will reverberate in history and will still be heard by Filipinos 100 years from now.

Artwork by Pacland's Dung Markus.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Manny Piņol.


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