Our friend Manny

Lito A. Tacujan - The Philippine Star
Our friend Manny
Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao FB Page

We’ve come a long way.

In fact we became friends way back when Manny Pacquiao was a struggling fighter training in a nondescript gym in the heart of a densely populated neighborhood in the city, waiting for a chance to breach the wall of big-time prizefight.

Ironically, he found it when he was robbed of victory in the first fight of his epic rivalry with Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez.

That bout ended in a controversial draw due to a judging error in May 2004 at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas.

But it opened doors to the Filipino boxing icon who lorded it over a field dominated by mercurial Mexican sluggers in the next 10 years and ended his career with record eight titles in various divisions and billions stashed in banks.

This phenom of a prize fighter was later tagged best pound for pound, boxer of the year, a legend and one of the greatest of all time.

His daring and swashbuckling style virtually saved pro boxing in danger of being replaced as the No. 1 attraction on prime time TV by the fast-growing sport of extreme mixed martial arts.

Then he entered politics, a world totally alien to him, because he was inherently a good person with a heart for the poor.

And like the scheme of things in boxing, he rose from the ranks, from a berth in Congress and a seat in the Senate, he is now in the mother of all battles – the presidential race.

But unlike a world title bout, he is finding out that in the course of the campaign, odds are stacked against him.

Despite his heart for the masses and vision to uplift their situation in life, and his vow to eradicate corruption in all levels in the government, he doesn’t seem to make an impact in the survey.

His political advisers further compounded his situation by urging him to enter the presidential debate for TV exposure to reach out for more fans and voters.

And as a friend we seem to die a thousand times as he grapples for answers on national issues as well as foreign relations. He seems unsure of himself when ranged against experienced and fluent presidential aspirants.

But he plods on in the uncharted terrains of partisan politics aware that he draws his strength from some divine intervention, doggedly pursuing a mission to help alleviate the suffering and hardship of the poor and those with less in life.

With less than a month before D-Day, here’s hoping he would flash the Manny Pacquiao of old and rally in the late rounds.

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