Manny, the winner
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - November 8, 2016 - 12:00am

Just when we thought the magic was over, boxing legend and now senator Manny Pacquiao wowed us once again when he systematically dismantled the much younger and bigger former welterweight champion, Jesse Vargas, in their bout last Sunday.

I was on my way to the airport to fetch the wife minutes before the Pacquiao versus Vargas match. Contrary to my tempered expectations, the amazing Pacquiao effect was still there - a captive national audience as shown in near-empty streets and pockets of crowds spilling into the sidewalk near shops and eateries that feature the pay-per-view fight.

After being elected senator of the republic this year, Pacquiao is supposedly expected to retire for good from boxing and focus on his much bigger and more serious role as a politician. It turned out the people may be more accepting of the boxing legend's dual role than I thought.

I am a fan of Pacquiao, the "pambansang kamao" (national fist), not Pacquiao, the politician. I don't exactly like his kind of politics and brand of public service: patronage-based, dole-out mentality-driven, and too pragmatic and lacking in party ideology. And remember, he once called gays "worse than animals," a bigoted statement that provoked a storm of controversy here and abroad.

But while as a senator he cannot be compared to the likes of Claro M. Recto and Jose Diokno, Senator Pacquiao has so far, and not surprisingly, carried himself with the characteristic confidence and determination to carry out his new job in a dignified manner. You may scoff at his greenhorn politician's demeanor in the Senate, but you have to admire his guts before his highbrow colleagues. At one point the neophyte senator even stood on the podium and moved to declare the chairmanship of the committee on justice vacant.

I think it is his kind of confidence and determination, coupled with his legendary speed and power that continue to attract many fans and admirers for Pacquiao even in the twilight years of his boxing career. He may have fallen short of overcoming the deft and ring genius of  Floyd Mayweather Jr. during their bout last year; he may have been knocked out cold by the wily Juan Manuel Marquez during one careless episode. But still Pacquiao has, in all weird angles, shown that he has the elements of a winner.

It is this winning attitude that I like in Pacquiao, both as a politician and as a boxer. His tenacious mentality and unsophisticated confidence are qualities that contribute to the freshness of his personality. We break out in cold sweat when we watch our "pambansang kamao" opening himself up for a punch from the enemy every time he launches an attack in all kinds of weird angles.

Yet, this is the same man who minutes before a bout would bounce up and down as he makes his way into the ring unable to hide the grin on his face. "Has ever a man smiled as much en route to such a serious task?" the legendary boxing analyst, Larry Merchant quipped during the Pacquiao-Cotto fight in 2009.

In a nation that continually doubts its place in the world, I hope Pacquiao's winning attitude will rub off on the rest of us.

Congratulations boxing legend-cum-senator Manny Pacquiao!

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