SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Pacquiao, Parkinson’s and politics

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 January) – Acquiring the dreaded Parkinson’s disease is one of the risks professional boxers face due to the beating that their brain gets every time they fight. The disease doesn’t choose its victims. Even Mohammad Ali, who declared he was the greatest, was unable to hold against this debilitating ailment.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez, a Filipino physician, recently grabbed the headlines when he said that boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, who was knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez last month, is showing early signs of the disease. The doctor clarified though that he did not actually examine Pacquiao, and only based his statements on the boxer’s “twitching movements” during TV interviews after the fight that stunned Filipino fans and the sporting world.

As expected, Pacquiao dismissed Jimenez’ observations, saying he knows his body better. “I will be the one to say that I will retire from boxing because I am the one who knows and feels what my body is telling me,” Bulletin Today (January 4, 2013) quoted him as having said.

Pacquiao, the representative of Sarangani province, was not simply reacting to speculations about his health. By junking pleas from his fans that he hang up his gloves now, he is clearly apprehensive of how a retirement from the ring at this stage would affect his future in politics.

If that sounds ambiguous, here’s an explanation.

Pacquiao entered politics with the presumption that his fame – and money, of course – would carry him to victory. It was only on his second try though – and in a different district (Sarangani) that he won a House seat. He first sought election as a congressman of General Santos City, but was beaten by Darlene Antonino-Custodio.

Now he’s a congressman, Pacquiao has not concealed his plan to run for the Senate and from there plot his way to the presidency. It may sound ridiculous given his credentials, but the boxer thinks he can get past the voters’ scrutiny, or lack of it, simply because he is immensely popular. If comedians like Tito Sotto have made it to the once august halls of the Senate, why can’t he? Besides, the Senate now allows its members to copy from blogs and speeches without citing the authors. That’s Lawmaking Made Easy 101 for Filipino politicians.

But Pacquiao’s defeat in the hands of Marquez last December 9 may have diminished the mystique that naturally surrounds sport and folk heroes. On the other hand, a victory would have achieved the opposite considering the storied rivalry against his Mexican rival.

I had guessed Pacquiao would retire if he won that fight. But since fate did not favor him, he feels he has to recover a lot of lost ground before embarking on grander political plans. A part of the only X-factor that could draw voters to his side has been lost when he fell on the canvas in the dying seconds of his fourth fight with Marquez. For him, the only way to erase the ignominy is to arrange another rematch with the Mexican who had declared before December 9 that he would retire regardless of the outcome of their fourth encounter, or rack up impressive wins against other opponents.

And so despite the concerns over his health, Pacquiao thinks he should continue fighting – including maybe, just maybe, an enemy called Parkinson’s disease. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at