smoke

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

Who died?

Who died and made Anakbayan the boss of Manny? Who died and gave politicians the right to ‘advise’ people not to go into politics and – essentially – to not quit their day jobs?

In case these party-list types haven’t noticed – or maybe because they had a deadened sense of irony – they letting anyone run for office these days. So what makes Manny Pacquiao less suited for a career in politics than, say – a former news anchor? With the proliferation of lawyers in this country, politicians – party-list representatives included – do not even need to have skillz in law-craft. In this benighted country, politicians are expected only to look good and speak well. Sincerity trumps integrity, and celebrity hands sincerity its hat and kicks it out the door. 

Manny shouldn’t run. And as a fight fan, I am perfectly within my rights to voice the opinion that he shouldn’t risk the country’s place of honor in the international arena. It’s his fault for getting us there. Now that we’re there, it’s his responsibility to keep us there til someone comes along and takes over for him. Atlas can’t just put down the world and walk away. 

But politicians condescendingly telling Pacquiao to stick to boxing? WTF? No one – least of all party-list representatives – have the right to tell people with no political background that they can’t jump into the sandbox. Last I checked, politics was an old-boys club by dint of circumstance, not design. SO although the way things are practically guarantee that only politically connected people can have a real chance at winning elective office, theoretically, if anyone can get the same level of winnability even without a pedigree, that person is just as entitled to a shot at public office.

The root cause of all the hackles raised at the thought of a Pacquiao candidacy is fear. Fear that his overwhelming popularity will be used by the administration one way or the other. Well, duh. Tough. Deal it with it, Anakbayan.

First off, you don’t know Manny’s mettle as a pol. He may talk dumb, but like generations of your populism have pretty much ensured that politicians don’t need to be eloquent except with their wallets and their dance moves. 

Second, don’t try to pretend that you’re above using celebrity to further your causes. If Manny Pacquiao were critical of the government, you people would be creaming your panties trying to get him to run under your crimson banners. 

Third, everyone has a right to be voted for. If actors can run for office, so can dumb jocks, aryt?

Fourth, if the guy wants to flush his career down the toilet, that’s for him to decide, for us fight fans to crucify him for, and for you politicians to live in fear of. Not that he’s going after your turf anyway.

So leave Manny alone! (cue blond-emo-gay-video :D)

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Filed under: 2010 watch, politics, sports, , ,

Pacquiao wins

Manny Pacquiao wins. He’s 482 million pesos more equal than the rest of us now.

UPDATE

The Filipino commentators are grating. They’re all superlatives and pseudo-expert talk. Sheesh. I wish I could just turn up the ambient noise and totally tune out the trash spilling out of their mouths.

Still, they did get it right when in the fifth round, they said Hoya looked like a slow old man. That he did, altho I kinda think that was more by design than out of actual pain.

Manny strutted into the ring with a sunny smile on his face, totally unlike his previous forays into that battlefield. He looked for all the world like he was on his way to the main dancefloor at Embassy. 

Dela Hoya, on the other hand, looked like he had seen the end of the world and had resigned himself to it – or to the role he had to play in it. I say the Golden Boy took a dive, and all to ensure that this franchise gets at least one more rematch.

Sickening, in my opinion. 

Sports are now entertainment, rather than contests of skill. The sooner I come to terms with that, the sooner I can get back to enjoying the atavistic thrill of watching two grown men pummel each other to bloody pulp.


Filed under: Quick Posts, sports, , ,

Anyone surprised?

We got bupkiss in the Beijing Olympics. But seriously, is anyone surprised?

Now, we’ve got a politician promising to give a privilege speech on the subject. Again, is anyone surprised?

And the athletes who will come back empty-handed won’t really be asked to account for themselves. We will instead welcome them home and praise them to high-heavens for trying their best. Anyone surprised?

In the meantime, what’s happened to Tibet? We seem to have forgotten all about that, haven’t we? That ain’t no surprise.

Filed under: international, sports, , , ,

Recah’s lovesong

I’ve always enjoyed Recah Trinidad ever since I heard him as a commentator when Onyok Velsaco fought in the Olympics. I was just a kid but those hysterics were forever burned in my memory. “Sumuntok si Onyok! MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS!!!! … teka, teka, DINADAYA tayo mga kababayan, DHINAHDHAYAH TAHYOHHH!!!!” He just unabashedly abandons all pretense of professional detachment and that makes him a true representative of the public – the one who speaks in our hyper-ventilating language, and with our hysterical voices at ringside.

Of course, I’m still conflicted about dear old Recah. I love his total lack of restraint, but I also cringe at his hyperboles.

Well, today, he unleashed a doozy of a lovesong to the boxer du jour. It’s a long article, but I just had to put it up here.

COMMENTARY
Pacquiao dumps the script for his greatest moment

By Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:04:00 07/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines—He was a work in progress, trainer Freddie Roach kept saying of Manny Pacquiao. There was likewise no clear hint the former poor boy, a skinny southpaw who used to sleep on the cold floor, would be able to come up with the greatest, richest performance of his life.

But last Sunday in Las Vegas, Roach, a two-time trainer of the year, could only watch in quiet glee as Pacquiao transformed from a brawling bull into a full-fledged ring matador with his clinical demolition of defending world lightweight champion David Diaz.

The change was complete as it was classy.

It also erased whatever cheap doubts there were on Pacquiao’s earlier installation as world pound-for-pound boxing king.

Not bad so far. A little too gooey-eyed, but still tolerable. Now if only he would quit while he was ahead.

* * *

Roach may have exaggerated in bragging that Diaz would need something supernatural to conquer Pacquiao.

I think I may need something supernatural to get through this smarmy crap.

But the way Pacquiao did it, not even a miracle would’ve saved Diaz from the speed and sharpness of the former one-handed raw banger they now call a prizefight masterpiece.

Raw banger?

Fight promoters hit it right when they labeled the championship “Lethal Combination,” peddling the promise of a bloody, no-holds barred duel in the Nevada desert.

Pacquiao however threw away the script and, in the process, created one of the most awesome mismatches in prizefight lore.

What script? I’m confused.

* * *

Indeed, there were suggestions of two brick-fisted warriors out to outgun and out-slug each other in a terrible test of steel nerves and gangland guts.

You gotta love’em metaphors, but gangland guts? Awesome alliteration.

Pacquiao however left his boiling temper, his predictable impatience in the dugout.

Of course, there were instances when he would smirk and again bang his gloves—a trademark of his explosiveness—after getting hit.

But these could all be a put-on, a ploy to mask a surefire edge he had gained with his newfound overview fighting stance.

Instead of bend low, engage his foe in an eyeball-to-eyeball goring battle, Pacquiao coolly stood his ground, speared and danced his way out of harm’s way enroute to a slow but sure dominance, before unleashing a crisp, soundless left cross to the chin, a sword thrust through a bull’s heart vein.

Heart vein? Is that the same as the lung windpipe? Or the kidney ureter? Or the womb fallopian tube? And didn’t you love how he “danced his way out of harm’s way?” Sounds like a male flamenco dancer ducking the flying stilletos of his partner. But beyond that, if it were such a storied mismatch, how could Pacquiao have ever been in harm’s way?

* * *

To those who wondered where they had witnessed this scene before, it could be in the movies, out in the sun-baked bullfight arenas in Madrid or Hemingway’s Pamplona where, as the great American writer put it, “the bull, as it should be is dead; the man, as he should be, is alive with a tendency to smile.”

Fight fans can be such gore-loving fuckers, can’t they?

The truth is that, after completing a perfect execution, an unforgettable world boxing rarity, fear suddenly crossed Pacquiao’s mind as Diaz lay battered, bloodied, convulsing on the floor.

Oh dear god, no.

Here, Pacquiao decided to again dump the fight script.

Again with the script! Are we in Hollywood? Or Gangland? Or the bull rings of Spain? Make up your mind, Recah.

* * *

Instead of thumping his breast, instead of bursting into a triumphant yell, Pacquiao readily turned to his fallen foe. Pacquiao reached out for Diaz’s arms and tried to pull him back.

The celebration could wait.

He suddenly saw in the opponent a brother in utter distress and, like a passing Samaritan, Pacquiao offered to help Diaz off a deathly cliff.

That he did it before claiming triumph as cameras rolled and the whole world watched was indeed incredible.

Maybe this same thing had happened to other ring greats, Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez, or Oscar de la Hoya himself, but they had left the golden chance at heroism and nobility slip.

Anyway, Pacquiao may have not realized it but, after making his countryman very proud with his conquest of a fourth world crown, he next handed the Pinoy a rare gift. The native nobility Pacquiao displayed in that moment of moments helped immeasurably in telling the world that the Filipino, cheated, cursed, corrupted, is brave, strong, and, last but not the least, worthy of applause and respect.

*Sniff-sniff.*  Okay. I admit it. This part really rang true. I was never prouder of Pacquiao than I was at that moment when true concern came over his features and he grasped Diaz’s outstretched arm. That was a golden moment for sportsmanship. Quite a refreshing change from all the trash-talking one has come to expect – and dread – from professional sports.

Thank God for the greatest Filipino fighter ever.

Too cheesy, but can’t argue with that.

Filed under: jurisprudence, language, pop-culture, sports, , , ,

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,

Paquiao wins

Diaz got his, and Manny is by now probably the winningest Filipino boxer evah.

Snapping Diaz’s head with a right jab, Pacquiao unleashed a right jab before uncorking his pet left hand, sending the now former champ, who never saw the killer blow coming, crashing at the 2:24 mark of the ninth round.

This is, without doubt, the single bright spot in this entire week of heartbreak. I should probably be thanking Manny.

Filed under: sports, vacuity, , ,

Pacman on the ropes

If Pacquiao thought Marquez was a tough opponent to beat, just imagine what he thinks of the press now. Sports writers and armchair analysts have been flapping their gums non-stop about how Pacquiao didn’t deserve to win or that he was badly outboxed or that the only way to justify his win was that he had knocked Marquez down. Since he won, the post-game geniuses have had poor guy on the ropes longer than Marquez ever did. He’s prolly punch-drunk by now.

Come on, people. Give the pug a break. He won, didn’t he? He brought home the bacon belt, which is really precisely the point. What does it really matter if it wasn’t an elegant win? The fact is, Marquez was tough and they were evenly matched. Is that concept so hard to accept? To say that his win was disappointing is actually to say that we wanted him to dazzle us. Well, he didn’t. Suck it up, Recah.

This is what happens when you build a cult of personality. The man becomes a giant, and the taller they are, the harder they fall. Bad enough that we treat the boxer like a vicarious vehicle to stave off our individual inferiority complexes, now we have to make him a vicarious vehicle to castigate ourselves for our individual under-achievement? Because that’s what’s going on here.

We’ve projected unto Pacquiao all our hopes for international recognition for the Filipino talent. In him, we see so strongly what we hope ourselves to be that we’ve transformed him – at least in our minds – into some glorious and unstoppable fighting machine. Unconsciously aware that the weight of national pride that we’ve laid across his shoulders could easily cripple the man, we’ve also unconsciously sought to ease our conscience (we feel guilty about putting it all on him) by convincing ourselves that he was the war-god Mars born with a brown face and a flat nose.

And when he reminded him that he was just a man who had met his match, the weight of our expectations now threatens to beat the pulp out of his victory.

What makes it so tragic is that this was actually one of his better victories. Think about it. How can Superman be heroic when he steps into the path of a speeding bullet when the bullet can’t even dent his eyeballs? And how can the Batman not be infinitely more heroic when, knowing his own pre-disposition to insanity, he willingly enters a madhouse to rescue a friend?

The worth of a victory is directly proportional to the difficulty of achieving it. With Marquez, Pacquiao barely squeaked by but he made it anyway. They were so evenly matched that by defeating Marquez, Pacquiao may have well beaten himself. And anyone will tell you that the toughest enemy to beat is the one staring back at you in the mirror. High difficulty, great victory.

Not Superman stopping an annoying bullet, Pacquiao was the Batman descending into hell and emerging half-dead but victorious. How the fuck can you quibble with that?

More to the point – why quibble at all?

manbat.jpg

Filed under: society, sports,