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Manny Pacquiao is not the Philippines

Manny Pacquiao is a superlative athlete. After his win over Diaz today, I heard people referring to him as the best pound-for-pound fighter today. Whatever that means. So, yeah, its a given: the boy can box. But since we’re Filipinos, you can expect that there will inevitably be an orgy of race-based self-congratulations where everybody will take as much credit – no matter how vicariously – as they can for the awesome felling of Diaz.

Stupid stupid stupid. Today was not a victory for Filipinos; it was the victory of a Filipino.

First of all, talent and skill at any discipline is never a function of race. It is a result of natural ability, good training, and dedication to craft. Manny has all three; despite his frequent -and frequently abortive – forays into non-boxing pursuits, his dedication to the sport cannot be questioned. When he starts training, he fucking disappears, except when Roach says the world can see him again. The sad truth is, Pacquiao could be ethnically Mexican and he would still be as good.

Secondly, Pacquiao’s Filipino-ness is totally eclipsed by the fact that his boxing ability is honed by foreigners. This means that he is not the product of Filipino intelligence and values, but of foreign, specifically American.

WHAT PASSES FOR A SIDEBAR:

Remember Rocky IV (I think)? Dolph Lundgren played the role of Drago – the Siberian Express. A fucking giant of a man who felled Apollo Creed, then a symbol of America.

Drago was the product of Russian technology (yes, he shot steroids and so was a fucking cheat), and his training was directed by Russian values – a cinematic exaggeration of course, and prolly not an accurate representation – and intelligence. He was, therefore, Mother Russia focused to a laser point in one man.

By contrast, Apollo Creed embodied American disdain for its enemy. He trained lackadaisically, owing to the belief that Russians were inferior and could therefore do nothing to threaten the superior American – and by extension, American superiority. Creed died.

Then comes Rocky. Rocky represented a return to the core values that made America great: hard work, building strength through adversity (Hitlerian shadows there), and individual triumph over deprivation. In the final fight, Rocky brought to the ring everything that Americans believed good about themselves, and clashed with everything the Russians thought admirable about themselves. And since it was an American movie, American values won. Rocky was America.

Manny Pacquiao is NOT the Philippines. He did not go into the ring bearing anything even remotely Filipino, unless you count his rosary and his devout rituals. While it can be said that at least that aspect of him represented us Filipinos – in the sense that almost by default, we think adversity can be beaten by prayer – everything else he needed to secure a tangible victory came from his American trainor – and by extension, America.

ANOTHER SIDEBAR:

I can hear howls of protest: he embodies perseverance under extreme personal adversity – isn’t that Filipino? Yes, it is. However, so did Navarette, so did Velasco, and so did that other guy who looked like my college classmate. But where are they now, eh?

The truth is, Pacquiao’s perseverance under extreme personal adversity was enough to get him knocking on the door of greatness. Beyond that door, how can that perseverance matter? He’s not even in adversity anymore. Beyond that door, other values and traits start taking precedence.

In the case of other almost-great Filipinos, the traits we’ve most often seen are hubris, self-indulgence, and terminal cases of persecution complexes. These things we see everyday in our neighbors and in ourselves; and it takes a deliberate effort of will – also known as discipline – to overcome them. Are we – in general – a disciplined people?

And third, the victory of one Filipino says nothing – absofuckinglutely nothing – about Filipinos in general. Despite Manny, far too many Filipinos are still lazy, unimaginative, and mediocre; far too many of our youth are pathologically enamored with consumerism; and we are still a nation run by morons, who are ‘fiscalized’ by idiots, with running commentary from mercenary retards.

Filed under: Filipino, musings, sports,

It’s what today?

When the taxi driver greeted me with a ‘hapi independens day, mam!’ I had a brief moment of ‘it’s what today?’

When i recovered my wits, I was mortified.

This, i think, is the reason why the independence day holiday should never be moved to the nearest monday or whatever. With all the things you need to do just to survive, the higher things – like remembering to commemorate Independence – tend to get snowed under. If today were a holiday, Independence day would have been the first thing on my mind. Instead, all I could think about was making my ten o’clock meeting.

To a large extent, forgetting was a personal failure. But still, I was pissed to find out that I wasn’t alone in my lapse. After being reminded by that taxi driver, I made it a point to put on a bright smile and greet everyone a happy independence day. Most of the people I greeted returned the same blank stare that I’m sure I gave the taxi-guy. And like me, those blank stares were quickly replaced with memory and a mumbled, ‘I forgot.’

But that’s not the worst of it.

There were some people who just looked at me with a kind of sneer and said, ‘so what?’ They knew it was independence day, but they didn’t care.

This is the kind of trivialization of important observances – independence day included – that ‘holiday economics’ promotes. It kills our sense of history, numbing us to the sacrifices of our forebears and thereby robbing us of the ability to see ourselves as being part of the tapestry of history – if nothing else, then as inheritors of people who fought and died for the freedoms we now take for granted. It’s shameful, I tell you.

By reducing independence day to the status of just-another-excuse-to-skip-work we are slowly but surely inducing a national amnesia of our forefathers’ sacrifices, and we make ourselves more and more incapable of asking what we can do for our country and our people. Instead, we find it ever easier to ask only what our country and our people should do for us.

Without reminders of our place in history, we tend to focus only on what we need to do to ensure individual survival, reducing the national psyche to subsistence levels, and inculcating in us a pathologically mendicant mentality. Ultimately, this will result in psychic stagnation – the state of being so fixated with the here and now, with what our entitlements are, and with the utter sense of despair that we never get everything we have convinced ourselves we unconditionally deserve that we can no longer imagine – much less work for – a grand future.

I’m sorry I forgot it was independence day. I will not forget again.

Filed under: Filipino, musings, politics, pop-culture,

Bashing versus Praise: A synthesis of sorts

So far, these are the positive Filipino traits that my little brainstorming exercise netted. Fourteen positive traits as opposed to thirty-three negative traits.

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Filed under: Filipino, , , , , ,

Filipino Bashing v. Filipino Praise

UPDATES:

I’ve received some CONTRIBUTIONS to my positive and negative lists; and the suggestion that a third list be added – “Interesting.” I’m not sure exactly what would fit under that category, but I’m gonna give it a whirl.

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Filed under: Filipino, , , , , ,

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