I’ll fight Pacquiao, what the heck
I have a love/hate relationship with Manny Pacquiao. He’s Filipino. Me too. I always want him to win. But I abhor his homophobic stance on LGBTQ-plus issues. I’m not gay, but I have LGBTQ family and friends. And I’ve publicly denounced Pacquiao for his bigotry.
That’s why I don’t see Manny ultimately as a politician/holder of high office. Read that as “president of the Philippines.”
You can’t govern even as a senator while being zealously bigoted against some of your people. Quite simply, Pacquiao is a boxer. Or was.
Now he’s merely the global ambassador/metaphor for Filipinos all over the world. His smile says it all. You can box your way out of the barrio.
But that makes him an exhibitionist on a pedestal. You can’t knock him down. Not like Yordenis Ugas did in Saturday.
That’s why title fights are no longer in his future. Exhibitions are. Wouldn’t you pay to see him go toe-to-toe with Rodriqo Duterte? Better that than Logan Paul?
So here’s my suggestion. I’ll fight Manny. He can build up to Duterte. After Saturday’s loss to Ugas in the welterweight title fight in Las Vegas, Manny’s done fighting real boxers.
That’s not to say the fight on Saturday wasn’t close. It was close enough that if the boxing judges and the boxing gods conspired, the flurries of greatness that Pacquiao flashed throughout the night still could have justified a split decision for Manny.
But integrity reigned. (Not like it did in that first Pacquiao-Bradley fight, remember?) This was for real. The judges and the fans saw the same fight. Ugas was bigger, stronger, and seven years younger. Ugas jabbed with his left and countered with right. Manny couldn’t penetrate.
Pacquiao was still the best 42-year-old fighter that night. But he wasn’t good enough to belt in the win.
Pacquiao said afterward, he “wasn’t young anymore,” and that he’d take a while to decide his next move. But I’ll make it for him.
I’m the same size as Pac-Man, based on standing next to him a few years ago in San Francisco. Better yet, I’m also likely not as strong, and maybe a dozen years or more older than Pacquiao.
I’m just what the doctor ordered Pacquiao. I’m the ideal opponent—a Pinoy Palooka.
He can beat me in the ring sure, maybe not with his eyes closed. But I’m his ideal pay day.
He could fight me, and three hours later, he can comfortably hit the karaoke bar without a scratch.
Let’s put it on pay-per-view. He’ll get his big cut. I’ll take a fraction for my hospital expenses and my own retirement. And then the bulk will go to help further LBGTQ-rights in the Philippines and in the global Filipino community.
I’m serious. Manny as a competitive fighter is done. But Manny is still his own cash cow.
The fight against Ugas was originally against Errol Spence Jr. And that came with a $5 million guarantee. When Spence got injured Ugas stepped in. Manny might make a little more when all the pay-per-view is done. But whatever it is, it won’t be like the $160 he made while dancing in the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015.
He can still make good dollars fighting a nobody like me who has publicly called him a bigoted homophobe.
And what a weigh-in it could be. He could read the Bible cursing me. And I would trash talk him on behalf of my gay brothers and sisters.
It could be part of his global “all-comers” farewell tour fighting all principled palookas.
And then we can test Pacquiao’s humanity. On Saturday, Manny was hugging Ugas at the end like lovers not fighters. We’ll put his homophobia to the test and fight for gay rights.
Pride month 2022. I’ll start the rope skipping and road work now.
Politician in the ring
I admit to be taken in by Pacquiao as he rose up in the ranks around 2009. It was the same time as Obama was flashing his smile and brand. And in one of my columns I said that Pacquiao was like the Philippines’ Obama.
It was an audacious claim. But the charisma was there. The other things a pol needs like good policy sense was not. I now readily admit I was wrong. Manny was just a figurehead. A hood ornament-type rock star. How good a policy person could he be? Depends on whom he surrounded himself with. And then there was the homophobia.
Just watching him in the ring since before the Mayweather fight has made me wince. And then on Saturday. A public official during a pandemic with more than 16,000 people in an indoor arena? How responsible is that?
That was all Manny the exhibitionist not the pol. He’s got his priorities as a working multi-millionaire boxer.
Meanwhile between Covid and the power shift in Afghanistan, the world is in crisis.
The crisis at the Kabul airport coincides with my memory of another crisis at the airport in Manila in 1983.
Sen. Benigno Aquino was assassinated Aug. 21 that year from a gunshot to the head as he stepped off a jet on the Manila International Airport.
Aquino was returning home after years in exile to facedown the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, since sanitized by Duterte as a hero.
But it was my cue to visit the Philippines as a journalist to witness the remarkable funeral procession for Aquino, a harbinger of the People Power to come.
That’s why every August around this time, wherever I am, I feel the rainy season near and feel more Filipino than ever on the insides.
This year, the season coincides with Afghanistan and the “handover” to the Taliban that was not supposed to be a handover. The civil war never materialized and instead, we’re left seeing our Central Asian brothers and sisters in Afghanistan left stranded trying to get out.
I can’t help but think of Filipinos at the start of WWII.
That’s when U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt called on Filipino scouts to join the U.S. and fight side by side in the Philippines. In exchange for their service, the U.S. promised citizenship and military benefits.
After the war, the U.S. turned the promise into a lie. President Harry Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946, and that was that. No citizenship, no benefits.
That was way more formal than the current situation in Kabul. But ask any Afghan who risked their lives as a collaborator and interpreter for the U.S. these last twenty years, and the betrayal is about the same. It is life and death situation in their country with the Taliban in control.
A future president of an established democracy, after getting beat up for millions of dollars before a global audience, might have made a passing statement about the issues of the world.
Manny is no politician. No global leader. He’s a boxer. Just not an elite one anymore. Here comes the exhibition and karaoke tour.
Duterte can get in line. I’m feeling that August sense of Ninoy courage.
I got next. For LGBTQ-Plus rights.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the Inquirer.net North American bureau. He vlog is on Facebook Live @emilguillermo.media. And on www.amok.com