Time for Pacquiao to wake up to reality
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2013 - 12:00am

One of the recent interesting and hilarious news items that came out in the international press and was picked up by local papers last week was about how Manny Pacquiao said he had been harboring thoughts of eventually running for President of the Philippines when he finally retired from boxing. I had a great laugh over reading that news item because I could not help but think that it was absolutely absurd.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always admired Manny’s boxing skills and I am a big fan of his in the ring. In fact I have backed him every step of the way on his journey to becoming one of the powerhouse fighters in the boxing world. In fact, I still remember the first time I saw him when he came to The STAR office at the Port Area in Manila roughly 15 years ago. He was a scrappy, reed thin, somewhat awkward fighter who had come by with his manager looking for possible sponsorships and asking the Sports Editors for some room in their section.

He was a boxer looking to make a name for himself, his country and boy did he ever! He not only went on to win several titles, but he became a living legend in the ring, having a title in eight boxing weight divisions and bringing worldwide fame and glory to the Philippines. Every time he stepped into the boxing ring whether it was in Las Vegas or in Texas, the country stood still as it watched and cheered on its champion. On fight days, the streets were empty and everything came to a halt. Even hostilities stopped on days when Manny fought. It was truly a uniting moment in the country for everyone. I have never seen this kind of holistic unity in Filipinos before and undoubtedly, Manny brought everyone together on those days when he represented the country.

But, times have changed, as they always do in the world of sports. Manny has grown older, he has allowed different influences into his life that have changed him, and many younger, hungrier, and more desperate fighters have come into the spotlight. I cannot help but fear that our champion’s star has irrevocably faded. His stunning losses, most especially the last one, have definitely taken the shine off his career and should he suffer another defeat in Macau on November 24, then the time will really have come to step out of the ring once and for all. 

Honestly, I hope I am wrong. I would not want to see Manny exit boxing this way. But he really just has too many distractions around him these days. It makes it hard for him to focus. We can’t help but feel that this lack of concentration will certainly hamper his chances of regaining his championship chances. And now, just to add to all the other distractions already surrounding him, it seems he has his sights set on the highest position in the land. He quickly retracted his statement after the hailstorm that received by saying that he was misquoted. However, for me, the damage has been done.

I wonder if he, or better yet, the people whispering in his ear honestly believe he stands a chance at winning the presidential seat? I suppose they figure he has a good a chance as anyone. I think, however though, that his stock will continue to drop should he lose this upcoming fight. Let’s face it, Manny’s political career grew in direct proportion to his rise to fame as a world class boxing star. Due to his popularity, he was elected as a congressman and then re-elected again. His wife, Jinky, even clinched the vice governorship due to his increasing fame and wealth.

However, should he lose this upcoming match again, I can’t help but feel that Jinky may be a one term politician. Voters in the Philippines have a very short memory and are easily lured by the next big thing. Pacquiao dazzled them with his skill in the ring and not so much with his skill as a rising politician and should his ring career come to an end, it is safe to guess that his political career may soon follow. No doubt, Manny will always be a Filipino treasure regardless, but he may not find himself in the political ring should he finally step out of the boxing ring. 

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I’m amazed at the hare-brained decision of the Court of Appeals reversing an earlier approval last May by the Civil Aeronautics Board granting a five-year permit to Federal Express Pacific Inc. (Fedex) to operate as an international airfreight forwarder. This, once again, highlights the government’s urong-sulong policy when it comes to making business related decisions. Its almost like one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. It’s one of the most exasperating things that foreign businessmen have to deal with.

As we all know, Fedex is one of the biggest and most prestigious airfreight companies in the world. If the Supreme Court sustains the decision of the CA and Fedex decides to pull out of the country, it will be a monumental blow to us, especially at a time when the Philippines is doing its best to attract foreign businesses and investments. It will set a bad precedent for how businesses are handled in the country. Other local firms may start filing cases against other international carriers in the future that could lead to an industry shake up.

I think it’s time we think about what’s best for the country as a whole and have everyone stop putting their own welfare above that of the Philippines. We have to work together to create a bustling and sustainable future for the country and the next generation. Seriously, it is no wonder that we, despite our natural resources, democratic government, English-speaking and highly literate population are still way behind other Southeast Asian nations when it comes to foreign direct investments. We seem to make it so difficult for us to expand and in reality it really is just us shooting ourselves in the foot. In reality, this could be so much easier if we just let it.

I still remember a time when the Philippines was the third biggest English-speaking nation after the United States and the United Kingdom. We still have the distinction of being up there when it comes to our ability to globally communicate and yet we are still struggling to attract foreign investments that could boost our economy and provide more jobs for our growing population. There was a time when the country was second to Japan in terms of emerging nations in Asia. Now that seems like it was so long ago. Along with  the difficulty to conduct business we have gained our mistrust in the government and strife in several war-torn communities. It’s not too late to help fix this situation and give ourselves a chance at becoming a booming economy again. Accountability, flexibility, and transparency are the keys to making these happen. Hopefully, we learn before it becomes too late.



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