I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

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.


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.


Filed under: Filipino, musings, sports,

19 Responses

  1. cvj says:

    So you identify a set of attributes that are ‘Filipino traits’. Since the attributes that made Pacquiao what he is cannot be found among the ‘Filipino traits’ that you’ve identified, you then reach the conclusion that “the victory of one Filipino says nothing – absofuckinglutely nothing – about Filipinos in general.” Benign0 applied the same logic to Lea Salonga. We can apply the same logic to Rizal or any Filipino achiever, past or present as well. However, such application is arbitrary because the above assumes that the ‘Filipino’ is constrained to a set of traits and that any positive variation cannot be included as part of being Filipino. But why exclude positive attributes as not being ‘Filipino’ even when these are exhibited by an actual Filipino?

  2. rom says:

    cvj: hello uncle. we’ve always disagreed about the relevance of assigning nationalities to certain traits, haven’t we? 🙂

    anyway, I’m afraid I actually agree with benign0 on this one. having a lea salonga or a manny pacquiao, or a jose rizal doesn’t mean we are a ‘great race’ anymore than having a ferdinand marcos or a manero (that Ilaga killer), or the makapilis makes us a monstrous nation. I just don’t see any relation between the achievements of an individual with the general character of his countrymen.

    And in this post, in particular, I did try to acknowledge positive filipino traits possessed by pacquiao, but came to the conclusion that these were not relevant to his stature now. F’rinstance, his devoutness has very little to do with his skill as a boxer. As for his perseverance, as I pointed out, that let him knock on the door to greatness but nothing else.

    No. I never said that the Filipino is constrained to a set of traits. Rather, my point is that certain traits are characteristic of Filipinos. There is a difference.

    As to excluding positive traits as not being (characteristic) of Filipinos, well, sometimes, some positive traits really aren’t. Like I said, would you describe us as a generally disciplined people? I wouldn’t.

  3. J says:

    cvj: aren’t you the one who accused djb over at uniffors of committing the Association Fallacy?

    I think this is what Rom is pointing out to those who claim Manny Pacquiao proves Pinoys are great.

    I agree. No race is ever constrained to a limited set of traits.

  4. To some Filipinos, Pacquiao represents a little part of the world (the Philippines) in America. He’s actually a symbolic image of what can be accomplished by someone so poor and just happens to be from the Philippines. My family gathered around the TV that night to watch the Pacquiao v. Diaz fight because he’s one of the few Filipinos with a name in America. As a Filipino-American, I looked at him and saw that there was more to the Filipino race than what typical (sometimes ignorant) Americans would believe. By generalizing negative traits to Filipinos perpetuates this awful stereotype.

    Just like in Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” African-Americans saw Joe Louis as a hero for the black community. He boxed in a heavyweight championship boxing match to defend his title. If not defending his title, it would give the white community a reason to say racist comments, lynch black people, or rape another black woman.

    Although we know that this may be an illogical train of thought to reduce a race due to one persons skill and ability, it happens. It happens both ways. By having one great Filipino athlete, actor, politician, or whatever, Americans and those around the world can see that the third world country of the Philippines can accomplish some greatness and present a role model to Filipinos abroad.

  5. rom says:

    Abigail: welcome to the smoking room!

    What I disagree with is the oft repeated feel-good spin by Filipino politicians, and even Pacquiao himself, that we are a great nation because we have people like Pacquiao or Salonga. As you said, it is illogical to characterize an entire race because of one member of that race.

    However, I can agree with the idea that one Filipino can be an exemplar for an entire nation – or even a proxy in the minds of foreigners. In Burma during the second world war, one race of natives were so won over by Americans that they extended their love for those specific Americans to all Americans.

  6. Bencard says:

    other than manny pacquiao’s passion for excellence in his craft, what i most admire in him is his sincere pride of being a filipino – not just a mindanaoan, but a filipino. i don’t see any pretensions, nor the almost legendary propensity of other pinoys to look, sound and act like they are what they are not, especially after having reached the pinnacle of success.

    his skills might have been honed and fine-tuned by foreign technicians of the sport but he is the one who executes, gives and takes the blows, and relies on his own devices in the ring. it is his courage and inspiration, along with his talent, that make him a multiple champion.

    last but not least, his consistent dedication of every victory to his nation and people is very much appreciated by me. his thoughtfulness of bringing to the world’s attention the calamities and tragedies suffered by his people, let alone his promise of aid to the needy from his prize money, are meaningful acts of patriotism worthy of emulation.

  7. Rom,

    I didn’t mean to intend that we had great politicians. It’s just another area where a Filipino could succeed in. In my lifetime, I haven’t encountered a phenomenal Filipino politician. I know that GMA came to America after the typhoon in the Philippines to talk to President Bush. Although America likes to back the Philippines and its leaders, many Americans don’t understand the corruptness of her presidency.

  8. BrianB says:

    If we could just invest on Pacquiao’s type of flamboyance in a business setting, we’d be way better off as a country. But capitalists do not like Filipino flamboyance; they prefer Filipino docility.

  9. Bencard says:

    abigail, i think most americans understand the “corruptness” of our people, not merely arroyo’s presidency, thanks to our overzealous media, and publicity-hound politicians who likes to sensationalize every allegation of corruption before they are substantiated. but i think, as a rule, the average american is fair and doesn’ t make conclusive judgment before the fact is properly determined.

    corruption is a knee-jerk charge against every administration since aguinaldo’s . rarely is it substantiated as in estrada’s case.

  10. Jeg says:

    Pacquiao is not the Philippines, but is a symbol of what Filipinos could become. This is why we celebrate achievement. We celebrate people like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Bill Gates or Pacquiao because humanity is not defined by who we are. Humanity is defined by our potential to be more than who we are.

  11. cvj says:

    Jeg, some people would prefer to wallow in stereotypes.

  12. rom says:

    cvj: some people prefer sobriety over blind adulation

  13. […] smoke, who has put forward gaming the system quite often as a way to understand what’s going on, though, since hope springs eternal, we still have to strive for the reality she sees- […]

  14. UP n student says:

    cvj: somewhere out in the World Wide Web, someone explained excellence in a particular manner, which I will rephrase to explain Pacquiao..

    Pacquiao (and Rizal and Leah Salonga) are elite offshoots from the filipino genetic line as impacted by randomness. So what can explain their eliteness? From randomness. It is chaos theory and the fluttering a butterfly in Singapore (for pacquiao) and the budding of an orchid in a village in Japan (for rizal) that “correlates” the highest to their achievements. Have you counted the number of children or grandchildren geniuses or martyrs of Rizal?

    These three are special are in the top 1% of Pinas. But do they say something about the next batch of accounting or business grads from DeLaSalle or UST? Nada. Nothing.

    Randomness // chaos theory explains that these 3 people have stepped into the stratosphere of human achievements.

  15. UP n student says:

    now me… I hew closer to that “…. 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration” line.

  16. extracebu says:

    Do not debate anymore. There is no politics or guessing in sports. There is no scripts, no director and no lawyers. It is all game and decided by the best fighter. Either basketball or tennis, there is no chikka there but only challenge to win the game. Congrats pacman and mabuhay Pinas .

  17. cvj says:

    UPn, how would your explanation be any different if you substituted ‘Muhammad Ali’ (as applied to Americans) for ‘Manny Pacquiao’ (as applied to Filipinos)?

  18. UP n student says:

    cvj: if you state the point you are raising about Muhammad ali and Pacquiao, I’ll have something to agree with. Is it about Muhammad Ali’s daughter who is an athlete and a dancer, too?

  19. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Boxing greats you should write about next!

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