Boxing is boxing to me. It isn't about Filipino pride. I love Luisito Espinosa because he could knock anybody out in any given moment and not because of his nationality. The same goes for Manny. Both fighters are amazing and I'm not gonna cheapen their hard work and skills by saying their nationality had anything to do with the fame and respect they are getting.
Both fighters had their fair share of glorious battles. Espinosa had that hellish battle with Guty Espadas where he dropped multiple times only to fight back valiantly before ultimately losing a tiring battle in the 11th round. Manny had that same kind of battle with his first matches with Marquez and Morales; he suffered a broken hand against Marquez and a ghastly cut against Morales. Espinosa was cheated against Soto in their second fight and Pacquiao was cheated in his first fight against Bradley. Espinosa turned Alejandro Gonzales into a zombie in their second fight. And Manny did this to some Thai dude:
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That's pro boxing. It's brutal, nasty, exciting and can be a source of some sort of pride I cannot fully comprehend. But those, along with other grand adjectives, are all it is. It's a dangerous sport of brave, skillful warriors who put their bodies on the line to gain personal gratitude in the form of money, fame or whatever.
Be that as it may, I always gave Manny the benefit of the doubt. When he went into acting in the early 2000's in films with Mikey Arroyo and April Boy Regino, I instantly knew he would suck. But hey, it was his dream and there's nothing wrong with cashing in on his fame. Wapakman suck, but so what? When he had concerts, I saw nothing wrong with it. He's no Frank Sinatra, so what? People love him and they enjoyed listening to that "Laban mo, laban ko, laban nating lahat" thingy.
But here we are now. Manny Pacquiao is an elected senator and a retired boxer. More than that, he's a bible-thumping legislator who may very well have the capability to turn his personal beliefs into public policy. The days of me cheering and shouting profanities at the TV because of Pacquiao's fights are over.
When he decided to run against the Custodios and lost, I hoped his desire to go into politics would be quelled. But as we all know, that didn't happen. He decided to do what a normal trapo would do which is to move to an area with weaker political opponents and run for office there. He later on became Saranggani's congressman and this slowly changed my view of Pacquiao.
I started to view Manny Pacquiao with more scrutinizing and critical set of lenses. He was no longer just the boxer that fueled my bi-annual excitement. He was this congressman who never attended sessions, got his family to run for different positions effectively creating a dynasty and used the bible as his source of legislative reasoning. But through all that, he was still the Manny who went into the ring and hauled ass. For all his faults in public office, the Manny that me and my dad enjoyed was still there kicking ass and taking names.
That's all over now. The traces of the Manny I cheered for is all well and gone. And all that remains is the well-dressed, power hungry "public servant", Senator Pacquiao. He's the same Senator Pacquiao who likened members of the LGBT community to animals (link). He's the same Senator Pacquiao who justified the reinstatement of the death penalty by saying that it is biblical effectively setting aside all the new information and advancements we have made in the last 2000 years. He's the same Senator Pacquiao who only attended a handful of congressional sessions and was unable to pass even one bill, which should be product of whatever platform that ideally got him his seat, into law.
It's pretty obvious that I don't like Senator Pacquiao. We have differing views on the separation of church and state (link) and I see him as a symbol, a poster child of our immature democracy.
But the people have spoken. All I can do now is say "Farewell Manny and welcome Senator Pacquiao".