By Edwin Espejo / MindaNews contributor
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s reported renunciation of his vice-ridden past revealed a largely unreported and uncharted private persona of one of the most celebrated iconic figures in the Philippines – one that is far from the God-fearing humble young man who rose from abject poverty to become a billionaire and a popular icon for the Filipino people that he is still today.
It took an own admission and public repudiation of his “sinful past” for the press to take full notice of what they largely ignored from the world boxing champion in their efforts to protect his public image. Some even glossed them over if not deliberately turned their attention the other way to be up close with one of the best copies and story sources in the country and the sports world during the last five years or so.
Over the last four months, Pacquiao is showing signs of personal transformation, even publicly announcing it. First, he publicly admitted before wife Jinkee that he had been “bad” in the past which perhaps included infidelity. Then he turned to the Bible. Last week, he was reported to have finally given up his fighting cocks numbering over 1,000, renounced gambling and sold shares he owned in one of the casinos in Manila. He also vowed to stop womanizing.
To cap these all, Pacquiao said he will retire from boxing, a sport he said is an anathema to his newfound calling in the Bible, next year.
At 33, Pacquiao is entering into the realm of what many consider the crossroad of one’s mid-life.
His kids are growing up and need him to be at their side as they trod the path of childhood to adolescence. He needs to become their father.
He is nearing a point where he must realize that not all the good life his boxing career has given him will stay forever. His body could only take so much beating atop the ring. He knows the end of the road of his boxing career is coming to an end and it could come sooner than many think. He knows the most prudent career decision is to quit while ahead. He already etched his name in the world of boxing immortality. He has nothing left to prove.
He took a different path midway through his success in boxing by pursuing a career in politics, a calling that will require the same if not more attention and preparation than training for a fight.
In boxing, all he needs to do is win every fight in order to continue to endear himself to his fans. In politics, he has to deliver, attend to the needs of the people he swore to serve and live a life that measures up to the moral standards expected from a public servant. Living a life full of vices is not the way to live a life of a public official.
Pacquiao deserves to be commended for confessing to his past transgressions. By admitting the truths of covered-up private life, he has set himself free to answer his higher calling. We wish him all the success. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com.)