It has already been official for years, but as the United States of America gets exposed to Manny Pacquiao, more and more boxing and sports fans are realizing that Pac Man has been the best boxer of this era. This was already known in the Philippines, where he is worshiped as their pride and joy. Any good natured Pinoy will admit that they have a lack of international celebrities. They have a bunch of internal celebs, but their overseas presence unfortunately has been limited.
With Pacquiao, who comes from General Santos City- a small fishing town- he is the ultimate rags to riches story in the Philippines. He started off just like so many other Pinoy men- a victim of a corrupt government and economic inequality. He had no prospects. So he boxed in shabby rings for a few pesos, sometimes for free. But he was born with special gifts. He has the fastest hands and both fists are KO punches. He worked hard and worked his way up. He started off as an unknown, a cult figure known to hard core boxing fans, and them became an international superstar.
General Santos City and other cities in the Philippines come to a complete halt when Pac Man is boxing. This is not an exaggeration. Even the most devout Christians skip Church if Pac Man is on TV. This is a verified fact. Also, the celebrations last days and restart when Pac Man makes his return back home.
This is not to say that Pac Man truly deserves any of this adoration. Remember, he’s just a normal guy who was never able to resist the temptations of fame. He seems to be the most polite, down-to-earth, and humble yet confident man you have ever met, but his battle with temptations are well-known and hypocritically ignored by Filipinos. But they can’t help but love him even though he cheats on his wife, gets into bar fights, gets used by the evil oppressive politicians, was elected to the House of Representatives this year, and even with his hundreds of millions of dollars and influence he can’t seem to help the abject poverty in Gensan.
Smart Filipinos know that he is a puppet and is being manipulated. Smart Filipinos see that he makes more money in a 3-second Jollibee commercial than all of the citizens of Gensan make in one year. Actually I only personally met one Filipino to tell me all of this. He was very into politics. My other Filipino friend knows all this but doesn’t rant and rave about such matters. My wife and her sisters don’t care anymore.
The truth is Pacquiao was never the sharpest blade in the drawer, and early promoters would steal from him a la Mike Tyson, and the shots to the face don’t help his brain that much. He is an athlete. The difference between he and an American athlete is that he is not a snob, and frankly is the Filipino version of Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Pele, et al. In may ways he is the perfect example of a Filipino Man (minus his superhuman skills). So Free Passes ™ are routinely given. Besides, Pac Man does what most Filipino men do and would do with his fame. That is not a disparaging remark- just ask them. If you came from the dust streets of Gensan and felt you had no future, could you seriously resist the fame, fortune, and perks of being second only to Jesus Christ? For some reason, however, the women from Gensan don’t do any of that crap, and the female singers and beauty queens don’t do crazy stuff like that. So I’m sure it’s a guy thing.
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