By Ingming Aberia
Yes. The fight game is his profession. It’s his livelihood.
Does he fight for his country? It depends on how one looks at things.
Every citizen, by doing simple things like being a law-abiding citizen and out of jail (which saves government money used to buy food and other basic needs for prisoners), or by sending their children to school (which saves government money used to pay for school facilities and salaries of public school teachers), or by not littering (which saves government money used to clean up esteros), among many others, already does his or her country a favor.
So what has Manny done for his country? I can’t cite them all, but here are some:
1) He is a source of hope and inspiration for his struggling countrymen. This man has shown the way out of adversities in life. In the concrete, he has shown that hard work, discipline, courage, commitment and confidence are what it takes to be a winner.
2) Having been ruled for centuries by foreign principalities, many Filipinos feel “inferior” in relation to other races. Pacquiao, in a way (I’m not saying in many ways), has changed that. He has given Filipinos reason to be proud of their race. Wherever they maybe in these parts of the world, Filipinos are proud to be associated with his nationality. Even outside of the boxing ring, he has shown that he cannot be bullied by “superior” races, as shown in his court battle against Murad Muhammad. When slandered, he fights back, as in the case of Mayweathers’ accusing him of being a PEDs user. He therefore represents something that is not common. Where many Filipinos are employed in other countries, Manny employs people of other nationalities.
3) In 2008, he was the top taxpayer in the country. What he did exposed how many Filipinos are cheating their government by not paying the right taxes. Does anyone think Manny is richer than Henry Sy or Lucio Tan–both of whom are in Fortune Magazine’s list of the super rich with assets worth more than a billion dollars each?
4) How much did government pay the CNN so that the Filipino flag could be wagged in one of its tourism commercials? Millions? The government gets this for free every time Manny Pacquiao is in the ring. How much is the government willing to pay so that the national anthem can be sung, and the flag can be raised, in the Olympics? Millions? The government gets this for free every time Manny Pacquiao is in the ring.
Manny Pacquiao is at a time when—like a farmer who toiled long and hard, is now ready to reap what he sowed—every payday nets him an amount no other boxer (except Floyd Mayweather) in the world today is capable of collecting. He has become such a phenomenon that the opportunity of being anointed as his opponent inside the ring already constitutes a jackpot for the lucky one. Those who feel they have the slimmest of chances to land that Pacquiao fight scramble among themselves for a spot in the starting block.
Boxers would kill themselves to be where Manny is now at. Those who suggest that he retires instead of fighting for what appears to them as anything but country are without doubt moved by their patriotic zeal. But they tend to forget how long and hard he has toiled for his due.
Manny deserves every centavo he earns from boxing. If he is earning that much today, it is not because he is exceptionally lucky. He continues to work hard and is willing to take risks for his craft. He is not a free rider. He pays his taxes in all places where he makes his living. He has generated goodwill among peoples from many nations. Let no one think he has not done enough for his country.
And, you may check this out: which Filipino—from the Philippine President down to the Barangay Tanod, all of whom are paid government money and are supposed to “fight” for the country—has done the four things I have enumerated above? The government has not paid Pacquiao any money, and yet he has done for the country what few other Filipinos have achieved. Pacquiao has not studied in state colleges or universities where some tuition and other fees are paid for by taxpayers’ money, and yet he has chosen to keep his Filipino citizenship, unlike those who take the first opportunity to fly out of the country to practice their profession. In fact he has spent his own money for charity and to help people affected by calamities—things which are government responsibility first before they become anybody else’s.
Let Manny be where he is good at. Any country will do well to have and keep his citizenship
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Hermilando “Ingming” Duque Aberia is a sports fan and a literary enthusiast. He has written a book titled “Manny Pacquiao: Story Bigger Than Boxing.” He has a master’s degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management and is a practitioner in social development work.