For years I’ve seen friends celebrate Manny Pacquiao on social media as a ‘hero’ of ‘Pinoy Pride’. They cheer his every victory and lament his every loss on the ring in ‘solidarity’ with the nation he has been thrust into symbolising.
That was Pacquiao, the boxing champ. What about Pacquiao the congressman?
That question evidently flies over the heads of most Filipinos. On the mere basis of Pacquiao being a boxing champ, Filipino voters gave him a landslide mandate to represent them in the Philippines’ House of Representatives back in 2010. He seems to be set to enjoy the same mandate in his run for the Senate this year. In short, Filipinos had long deemed Pacquiao fit to be a legislator because he is a great boxer. That’s just the way the majority of Filipinos think. And in a democracy, we’ve always been told, majority rules.
Thus, Pacquiao’s views very likely reflect the hushed sentiment of most inarticulate Filipinos who routinely apply to democratic exercises thinking faculties that were severely stunted by the Philippines’ decrepit public education system. But we need to clearly compartmentalise our outrage. The outrage is not really in the views or beliefs he espouses. He represents a legitimate sector of Philippine society — one that is conservative and religious and more closely represents the collective character of the nation than the far noisier clique of hipster Netizens that, today, are mounting their usual slacktivist campaign against the champ on Twitter and Facebook.
Funny enough, the same people who wax lovely poetic about ‘Pinoy Pride’ everytime Pacquiao emerges victorious in Las Vegas are the same people who changed their profile photos into gaydom’s rainbow colours in solidarity with same-sex-marriage campaigners in America in mid-2015 and swooned over Olympic triathlete Bruce Jenner’s coming out as a lady later in that same year. See, that is the trouble with applying a vacuous mind to stuff we see on the Internet and being pa-in with the latest activist fashion statement propagating all over social media. We end up looking like chumps when the people we worship fail to remain consistent with their respective personal brands.
The fact remains that Pacquiao is a member of Congress and is a candidate for a Senate seat. So, really, the bigger lesson to be learned out of this is that Pacquiao is completely out of his element in Philippine politics — specially in the legislature where thinking and communicating effectively and articulately is actually required (on the presumption that people actually understand what congressmen and senators are supposed to be doing in Congress). It is Pacquiao’s ineptness as a communicator (regardless of what position he takes on same sex marriage) that is the real issue we must reflect upon now that he is at the sunset of his boxing career and at the dawn of his political carreer.
If he made Filipinos “proud to be Pinoy” he will make Filipinos ashamed to be Pinoy as a government official. And that is where the real outrage in his continued popularity with Filipino voters lies.
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