So we muddle along / Boxing: Pacquiao and Tyson

HERE'S THE SCORE - Teodoro C. Benigno -
Time there was when we really believed a social explosion was imminent, that the nation would shake, its unbelievably corrupt leaders would scramble to the exits and – voila! – the dreams of our dead heroes would be fulfilled. Almost endlessly, I warned our long seething social volcano would erupt. I could almost see it then, a huge, livid lava flow of popular anger streaming down the slopes, the Filipino people rejoicing that at last the big rogues, rascals and rapscallions had been slapped into jail.

Well, sad to say, I was horribly mistaken.

I was guilty of two major miscalculations. The popular anger, the fury I imagined would finally ignite the people to revolt were never really there in mass. Oh yes, they were there but in very small doses, not enough to set the locomotive of history on fire. The leaders too were not there, men of might, vision and raw courage, a Bonifacio reborn, a Ninoy reborn, a Mabini reborn, who could wrest history to their side by virtue alone of the fact they were extraordinary men.

And there is very little chance both elements will be there in the near future.

More than three years ago, I launched the concept of Freedom Force. It was a huge success as a concept, and one of my first converts was Jaime Cardinal Sin himself. "It’s original," he said, "your idea of organizing the middle forces to spearhead this movement and preempt the forces of the left and the right." Letters poured in from Filipinos here and abroad, mostly abroad, seeking membership, offering financial help and ready to fight in the streets.

There was one thing amiss. No Filipinos of civic or intellectual, or even political prominence, ventured to join. Civil society forces, which triggered EDSA II, were largely infiltrated or bought by Malacañang. That was my first lesson. Freedom Force didn’t catch the fancy either of the studentry and the activist youth who loved this country. The communist Left and the military Right treated Freedom Force like the plague, which was totally expected.

But the leaders?

One finally came in the person of Vice President Teofisto Guingona. A nationalist whose credentials were impressive, he took the lead in organizing BANGON! about two years ago. And gave me all the help I needed, funds, the staff, a first-class coterie of intellectuals, social thinkers, technocrats, doers, whose company and intellectual brilliance I enormously enjoyed. BANGON! was launched at the Club Filipino amid great expectations. It was to be the Third Force the country needed as the May 10 presidential elections loomed, with its baggage of political tumult. Feuds galore, divisions galore, a nation bleeding with poverty and disunity. Despair.

It was not to be. Tito Guingona, to the great disappointment of his nationalist followers, crossed over to join Fernando Poe Jr. and his Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino as FPJ’s adviser. I had advance information then – highly reliable – that Malacañang was out to cheat FPJ of the presidency at any cost. I warned Tito to desist. He did not listen. And indeed Malacañang and the military pulled out all the stops to make sure GMA would win.

So the May 10 elections took place. So what I feared, massive cheating and electoral fraud materialized. Good. The opposition parties which were cheated, particularly FPJ and his KNP, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and his Bangon Filipino, would rise in anger and revolt. They had great pride and honor and would not succumb to a rigged election.

To my great surprise, they did not rise or roar. They tried to, they threatened to, but that was all. FPJ managed to mobilize a small rally in Manila of about 3,000 but it was easily dispersed by GMA’s riot police with shoot to kill orders, I understand. Brother Eddie and his legions never mustered the historical audacity to storm the streets.

GMA had learned her lesson. She had studied her social engineering well. She pampered the police and military, made many of their generals rich, made sure they would form her first line of defense, then inculcated great fear into the people. If they dared mess with her soldiery, they would be routed and beaten to a pulp without mercy and to hell with "maximum tolerance."

This is Marcosian lore. And it held because the art of buying people at a time extreme poverty held forth was elevated to perfection. I didn’t reckon with that too. That the impoverished Filipino voter had abandoned his principles and would sell his vote to the highest bidder. The highest, most powerful bidder was Malacañang.

In the face of all this, the three basic elements for the eruption of a social volcano were missing.

popular anger had been neutralized and bought. Second, the opposition leadership took fright, or simply shrugged its shoulders. They called GMA every name in the book, a pompous pretender and a crook to boot, and a "bogus president". She simply shrugged them off, and went through the same tired, shopworn pledges of reform and moral rearmament. Third, the nation had gone to sleep and could now be manipulated almost at will.

And so, we are all back to muddling along.

There was a time when I thought I knew all the answers. Now I am looking at a country I hardy understand anymore. We had a people that had cojones, that had dreams, that had almost all the talent for success and progress. Now it’s the big snooze, the big droop, the collapse of a country even the World Bank after World War II destined for economic and social greatness.

Why, why, why? That will require volumes. Or have I exaggerated the situation? We are still in a state of shock, of denial, unable to accept that finally, during this great swirling epoch of change and renewal all over the world, we have scandalously and shamefully missed the train. Or is it only during my lifetime?

Our better angels have left us. And that’s sad.
* * *
We promised to publish Manny Pacquiao’s letter of apology. Here it is:

Ginoong Teddy Benigno,

Magandang araw po. Nais ko pong muling humingi sa inyo ng paumanhin sa pangyayari noong isang Lunes. Sobrang nahihiya po ako sa inyo dahil iniidolo ko po kayo at lagi ko pong binabasa ang inyong mga komentaryo kaya talaga pong doble and hiya na nararamdaman ko.

Maraming salamat po at binigyan ninyo ako ng pagkakataon na mag-isplika sa inyo. At nais ko rin pong magpasalamat sa inyong magandang hangarin na matulungan ako sa pag-ayos sa mga problema ko.

Maraming salamat po!

Ang inyong lingkod,

Manny Pacquiao
* * *
I thought he had been permanently locked up in a nuthouse, this now sorry excuse for a fist-fighter, Mike Tyson. He was fistiana’s terror in the old days, a mountain boulder who took the shape of a man, put on boxing gloves and proceeded to knock out everybody in sight. That is until Iron Mike got terribly spoiled, stopped training, stuffed himself with nothing but ego and set up a personal record for raping women, including his wife or wives. And bouncing off anybody who dared accost him in a night spot.

Of course, Mike Tyson landed in jail several times, each time promising he would reform only to end up the same old tattooed ring brat. And each time, he would end up in worse shape than before, a stumblebum who spent all his earnings on booze, women and good time. He was finished long before his time, and got laid and larruped by a bunch of mediocrities he could have kayoed in his golden days just by staring at them.

Now we understand Tyson will make his comeback in Washington June 11 against Johnson McBride, a journeyman to be sure, a pugilistic flapjack. At a press conference, Tyson was seen laughing and enjoying himself hugely, a stark departure from the scowling monster that he was with killer fists to match.

He is right though. Today, prizefighting is at its lowest ebb, particularly the heavyweight division whose last real champion Lennox Lewis never lived up to his billing. But of course Mike is dreaming if he thinks his comeback will bring glory back to boxing. In due time, they will carry him out on a stretcher feet first, mumbling of the good old days when he was actually a homicidal killer and not a pugilist.

One more time, my friend? Yes, one more time. But this time you will land in the mortuary, with nothing to your name but ugly tattoos all over your body.










  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with