Pacquiao apologizes; Military surveils ‘Enemy’

HERE'S THE SCORE - Teodoro C. Benigno -
To his credit, Manny Pacquiao called up mid-morning Wednesday to apologize, really and truly eat humble pie, admit there was no excuse for what he had committed – stand this writer up last Saturday while his household help slammed the door in my face. Manny said "it was all a mistake, they should have allowed you entry and waken me up. In fact, in my anger I fired one of them." I couldn’t mistake that Visayan accent, its sporadic pauses, its earnestness in seeking forgiveness.

In the afternoon, his wife Jinky also called up, articulated the same plea for paumanhin, with the addendum that "you are an idol of Manny who is an ardent reader of your column." Please, she added, "do not take it so hard on us." I replied that "all was forgotten" but added they should send me a formal letter expressing the same views. She said "This is on the way."

Okay, I do exculpate Manny Pacquiao. Who am I in the first place to remain unmoved in the face of a man who readily admits his guilt, seeks no excuses, and sincerely wants to make amends? I just hope, he has learned his lesson. He must realize his sudden rise to pugilistic fame and fortune has a price to pay, a steep price. It is a world where he still is a stranger, so he slips on a lot of banana peels.

For readers who came late, this writer had an appointment to see Manny Saturday at his residence. My intention was to help this Filipino fighter get rid of the leeches, foreign and local, who were stealing him blind, robbing him of most of his purse. Manny instead snored the whole morning away after spending the whole night gambling in a Parañaque cockpit.

I blew my top of course. And I left the premises fast.

Now, Manny must shed off his habiliments as a spoiled brat. He must abandon his addiction to cock-fighting, the billiard tables, showing off in night clubs with his coterie of bodyguards and hangers-on and, I understand, his fondness for the bottle, smoking and the broads. The swagger must go, the lust for spoiled and madcap celebrity status, his expectation the world moves aside as he makes his entry.

Manny, the kids worship you. Don’t you forget that.

They worship nobody else as they do you. In this our land where the rich, the mighty and the powerful, particularly the politicians today recoil from a public, a citizenry that hates, loathes and despises them, you are an icon, a sort of demi-god who descended in their midst. You are to them a hero. Show them you are that hero who trods sturdy earth, and leaves footprints to be admired.

Make the most of it, kid. Stop being a brat, pronto.

Show them you are different. Show them you are made of different metal, honest, sincere, humble, intrepid. Show them what pride of country means, raking your insides with courage that until they bleed because this kind of love of motherland knows no bounds. Show them the nobility of prizefighting, a profession that seeks to immolate the flesh in the name of a gladiator’s grandeur, that of conquering with the highest respect and compassion for the fallen foe.

Show them a pugilist can be intelligent, for your profession requires swimming in deep seas where survival is not just a matter of muscle and physical superiority but an intelligence that can brave the dangers of the unknown.

Manny, you are now 26, not too young anymore.

You still have four good years to go. Make the most of it. Renounce all the bad and revolting habits that have you hostage today. You still have a lot to learn. You told me you have long been a reader of my column (thank you). You said you bolted right up when I wrote you needed to develop a right hook, improve your footwork and your approach, and learn to body-punch instead of just concentrating on your opponent’s jaw for an easy knockout. Well, then, focus on these. Forget the tupadas, rotation and the nine-ball. The growl of fighting cocks, the ricochet of billiard balls.

Egad, kiddo, save your money. Much more will be coming if you plot your career right, and be sure your earnings are wisely invested. I don’t like to see you five, six, seven, ten years from now, smothered with five o’clock shadows on your face, cauliflower snarling on your ears, runaway spittle on your mouth, bawling out drunken and broken language, still fixated on your fights with Erik Morales, and the Latinos who stopped your rise to fistic fame.

Nothing saddens me more than the sight of an ex-pug, wasted, wrinkled and wanton, boasting about the years he could have but did not – a shambling bum and somnambulist, broke and dirty, with a panhandle in hand and a high voice that reeks nostalgically of a spent and misbegotten past. Ah, the lotus land of might have been!

Hell you could have been the greatest.

There is still time. There is still a pathway. There will still be one or two great opportunities for Manny Pacquiao to make up. But he must change and grow up. He must be a hungry fighter all over again, build the new Manny from the ground up, wrestle all his demons to the ground.

Manny, it will be excruciatingly hard, but that is the only way, believe me.
* * *

It’s absolutely unbelievable and shocking. The news is that the Armed Forces of the Philippines has under surveillance the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), with the possibility some members are "enemies" of the republic. Come again?

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who should have better things to do, lifted the lid on the issue, tried to make light of the whole thing saying in Tagalog there might be no monitor of journalists but "inaantabayanan lang." The newsmen were curious because there was an AFP Malacañang briefing on the matter of "Knowing the Enemy." This was prepared by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces. What was even more surprising was the inclusion of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Well, well, well! If this old journalistic wayfarer smells things right, the AFP has not gone over its old fixation that the main danger facing the nation today remains the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with its armed affiliate the New People’s Army.

The implication is that the NUJP, the PCIJ and even the CBCP have been infiltrated by communist activists, who continue to pursue their objective of toppling the government by armed revolution. General Ermita is an old hand on this hoary and dog-eared issue, his reflexes sharpened to fine point by the abominations of the Cold War.

So we are back there, huh? Are you in the military telling us you have dusted up Ferdinand Marcos’ predilection for mass arrests of suspected left-wing journalists? Oh yes, prisons had reportedly been constructed on Carballo island during the palmiest days of the dictatorship and there they would waste away under the beady eye of Gen. Fabian Ver, never to inflict Karl Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong’s doctrines on the Filipino body politic anymore.

Wake up, you intelligence agents in the military!.

The world has changed while you haven’t. Marxist ideology is dead and buried. The Russian communist empire has blown up. The Chinese have eschewed communism for capitalist free enterprise and the market. Jose Maria Sison bids fair to revive his role as the super-Merlin of the left, but his old janissaries just aren’t there anymore. Some have opted to ride the gravy train of the party-list system, and I’ll be darned if anybody can convince them to give up their pork barrel gravy.

Sires, I’ll tell you who are the real enemies of the republic and democracy in the Philippines.

Most are the Makati rich, the corporate satraps, the politicians of course, the smugglers, the big-bellied nomenklatura of the government, favored bureaucratic proteges like Winston Garcia, the narcotics lords, the illegal loggers, the old agricultural rich. And yes you in the military who have lived off the fat of the land, you like Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who as AFP comptroller amassed P303 million, and you and you and you, retired generals all, who still occupy high positions in the government. And bleed the nation dry.

The name of the game is Noli me tangere (Touch me not), the music Roll out the Barrel, the gilded rap Money, Money, Money.

Stop this game of pretense, cant and hambug that the NUJP, the PCIJ and CBCP conceal our "enemies." And cut out the horseshit he or she who thinks differently from the military and the Establishment, is a subversive, a dangerous radical. Hell no, this is sheer political poltroonery, Joseph McCarthy come back to life in the Philippines. And darlings, how long have you been in your ideological cages?










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