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.
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.