(First of Four Parts)
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 January) – Manny Pacquiao, the multi-titled world boxing champion, and Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, the representative of the lone congressional district of Sarangani, are two persons in one man. As boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is super; as congressional representative, Emmanuel D. Pacquiao has still to prove his worth trying – granting that he does – to round the square peg that he is to fit into the round hole that is the Congress.
The boxer is more popular than the congressman; to the entire Philippines and the world, both are known as “Manny Pacquiao”. The rise of Manny to the top of the boxing world is spectacular and awesome; his transformation from rags to riches is legendary; and his entry into Congress is truly the “Filipino” in Philippine politics.
As told in various media accounts, as a poor boy, Pacquiao ventured to live life in Manila streets. At the age of 14, he earned his board and lodging as a member of the Philippine national amateur boxing team where he chalked a 60-4 win-loss record.
In 1995, at the age of 16 – weighing 98 pounds and standing at 4 feet, eleven inches – he started his professional boxing career with the Vintage Sports Blow by Blow. Three years after, on December 4, 1998, he knocked out Thai Chatchat Sasakul to win the WBC and Lineal World Flyweight Title. This was his first weight division world title.
On November 13, 2010, he beat Antonio Margarito to capture the vacant WBC Super Welterweight (also Light Middleweight) World Title – his eighth weight division world title. By this, he holds the distinction as the only boxer to reign in eight weight divisions – from the 112-lb. flyweight division to the 154-lb. super welterweight division in a span of twelve years. During this span, he lost twice while beating all title holders, contenders and challengers in the eight weight divisions since his second loss on March 19, 2005.
When did he win the six other weight division world titles? IBF Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.), June 23, 2001; The Ring Featherweight (126 lbs.), November 15, 2003; WBC Super Featherweight [also The Ring Junior Lightweight] (130 lbs), March 15, 2008; WBC Lightweight (135 lbs.), June 28, 2008; The Ring Junior Welterweight [also IBO Junior Welterweight] (140 lbs.), May 2, 2009; and WBO Welterweight (147 lbs.), November 14, 2009.
For this feat of par excellence, Manny Pacquiao was acclaimed by the Filipinos as their living national hero. It is said that time and work stopped nationwide during his fights as all crowded before television sets. He received three most prestigious awards from the President, two from the House of Representatives, one from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and honors from the governments of Manila and General Santos City. From American sports writers and organizations he received prestigious awards and citations.
He had the distinction of having been granted audience by U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House. It is unbelievable! He had humbled all great Mexican boxers – three of them the pride of Mexico – yet, according to the account of sports journalist Ronnie Nathanielz (Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 12, 2011), he received “fantastic welcome last week from Mexican fighting fans and members of parliament, who pushed and shoved each other to get close to the international boxing icon”.
More than the honors he has reaped – including recognition from living greats in the boxing world – he inspired several Filipino boxers to excel in international arena; and he erased in the last six years the prejudice against Oriental boxers in the American press. In 2006, I was in Portland, Oregon when Manny fought Eric Morales for the third time on November 18, 2006. No major television network or newspaper carried the event. I had to surf Philippine Daily Inquirer to know the result. That is no longer the case now.
Rags to Riches
Pacquiao’s transformation from rags to riches is legendary. When he first went to Manila in the early 1990s, it was said he lived in the streets striving for survival. Now, according to one of his publicists, on top of having several mansions in Metro Manila and a fleet of luxury cars, he has a home in Forbes Park, the exclusive preserve of the most elite of the elite in the country. He gives his wife and mother gifts in million-peso tags on their birthdays – on his wife’s latest birthday, a P25-million yacht.
In US dollars, he is multimillionaire; in Philippine pesos, a multi-billionaire. His fame has attracted multimillion peso commercial endorsements. These and the more fights in the next few years will keep his riches piling up.
Pacquiao doesn’t just spend his billions in lavish life. Gensan News On Line Mag of January 15, 2012 reveals his investments in General Santos City: two large parcels of land, one for his radio station and the other for a hotel; a block along Aparente St. corner Provido Village in Barangay City Heights where now stands one of his two commercial buildings and a hotel soon to open; and a variety of other (at least seven named) business establishments. Not mentioned is a farm in Malungon, Sarangani.
Manny Pacquiao should be emulated for rising out of rags onto riches. With guts, he has overcome poverty; literally, he earned his billions with his sweat and blood.
But Pacquiao’s story does not stop here. Riches breed ambition for power fanned by the fame riches naturally brings. Yielding to this ambition, Pacquiao emerges in a new person with a new story.
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)
(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at [email protected])