Doubtlessly Manny Pacquiao will go down in history as, at the least, the most popular Filipino of his era or, at most, the most popular Filipino of all time. A plethora of facts would support such a claim. To cite a few: his long list of local and international endorsements, having been on the covers of the world-renowned magazines Time and Sports Illustrated, a boxing pay-per-view king, his endorsement of U.S. Senator Harry Reid and meeting with President Barack Obama, and his contribution to his country. American ring announcer Michael Buffer summed it well when he said that Manny Pacquiao was “the fighting pride of the Philippines.” His magnificent achievements in the boxing ring earned him all these accolades.
Manny Pacquiao’s legacy is secured in boxing history; however, the moment he entered an uncharted territory—politics—every else seemed to have been tarnished.
I have always believed that Pacquiao should have not entered the political ring—where principled men can turn soft on their principles, where honorable men can end up honoring themselves, where loyalty comes with a price, where “service to others” can turn into “service for oneself,” where political ties and family ties can be more important than societal ties, where electoral promises can turn into a “pie in the sky,” where a good leader is a “sheep among wolves,” and ultimately, where a “pride of the Philippines” can turn into an “enemy of the people.”
While Pacquiao adamantly argues that politics is a way for him to reach out to his fellow Filipinos, it is not the better way to reach out to his fellows (whether in the concluding years of his boxing career or in his post-boxing career) and not the better way to preserve his boxing legacy.
There are better ways for Pacquiao to reach out to his fellow Filipinos and, at the same time, preserve his boxing legacy. He can choose to be a Philippine ambassador, or a founder of a charitable institution, or founder of a scholarship program.
A good role model would be the retired National Basketball Association (NBA) star player Vlade Divac who has gained international attention even after his stellar basketball career. He was the founder of The Group Seven Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting children who have been displaced and impoverished due to the breakup of a nation. His philanthropic work has earned Divac widespread recognition, including the NBA’s Citizenship Award, Sporting News “Good Guys” Award, the “Good Samaritan” Award from International Orthodox Christian Charities, and a Medal of Merit from the Serbian Unity Congress. Divac also serves as a “Goodwill Ambassador” of United Nations and has participated in the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” initiative (www.prweb.com).
Perhaps, it is through any of these ways (ambassador, founder of charitable institution, or founder of a scholarship program) in which Pacquiao’s achievements off the boxing ring can be as impressive as his achievements in the boxing ring and where his legacy as “the Pride of the Philippines” could be well-preserved in history.
Perhaps, it’s not too late to convince “The Pride of the Philippines” to reassess his achievements and retrace his path to success.
ERRATUM: We are sorry to inform you that last issue’s article for this column was mistakenly attributed to a different writer. The article, entitled “Making UP a World-Class University,” was actually written by Adonis Y. Fernandez.
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