Mommy Dionisia, mother of Manny Pacquiao, entered the Cotai Arena of the Venetian Resort and Casino in Macau, venue of her son’s fight with Chris Algieri, in Filipiniana terno. The incongruity must have been glaring to the 13,000 spectators of the fight, be they Pinoys or Westerners. The Pinoys would have recognized the outfit as formal wear worn by the “‘ninangs” in high- society weddings and by the lady members of Congress on opening day of both Houses of Congress. The Westerners would have seen the get-up as a formal evening gown, because of its length and prominent sleeves, and most inappropriate for a boxing event.
Just before the opening bell, Mommy D climbed up the ring, clutching a rosary and made signs of the cross on Manny’s body several times, making a religious rite of a purely earthly activity. The prominence of the rosary, a religious article associated solely with the Roman Catholic religion, in Mommy D’s invocation for the heavens to support Manny in his quest for yet another win makes Mommy D’s ceremonial incongruous as Manny has turned his back on his Catholic faith. When Manny was knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, Mommy D blamed the “Protestant” pastors hanging around her son. “That’s what he gets for changing religion,” she said in disgust. Mommy D was referring to pastors of born-again Christians. By the way, Manny asking the pastors to sing our national anthem before the fight added a religious dimension to the sports event – another inappropriate act.
Strange, Manny’s trainer Freddie Roach said before the fight that it was not possible for Algieri to win. In fact, he predicted Manny would knock out the inexperienced American boxer in the very first round. There was no need for Mommy D, or for Manny, to ask for heavenly help. Manny’s sheer savvy assured him of victory. Many boxing pundits billed the championship fight as the Mismatch of the Century.
During the fight, Mommy D alternately shadow boxed in her seat and prayed the rosary. So, she vicariously hit Algieri’s face and alternately clutched her rosary to connect to celestial beings.
After Manny was unanimously proclaimed winner, Mommy D climbed up the ring again, walked around the ring triumphantly hoisting the rosary as if to show the ecstatic Pinoys in the stands that it was the power of the rosary that knocked the fight out of the dazed Algieri.
Mommy D’s disgraceful antics were beamed to many parts of the world to show in high density resolution and living color the damaged culture of the Filipino people that she symbolizes so graphically. Thanks to her zany antics, the popular image of a Filipino in the Western World, even in nearby Singapore and Hong Kong, of an ignoramus, seized with senseless superstitions and fit only for a domestic or menial job, has been reinforced.
Highlighting that damaged culture, local broadcasters announced that Congressman Pacquiao is coming home this week as if he was coming home from an international conference of legislators or from a multilateral summit. Emmanuel Pacquiao did not go to Macau as a Congressman. He went there to fight for a prize. That is the biggest irony of all, a member of Philippine Congress going to foreign land to fight for a prize. He didn’t even fight. He toyed with a young man who had spent the prime of his life in the academic world (to earn a master’s degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology), unlike Manny who has spent most of his life fighting in the streets of GenSan, honing his boxing skills in gyms here and abroad, and actually boxing in the ring for monetary rewards.
And when Prizefighter Manny came home, he was given full military honors, as if he had just come from a glorious victory in some foreign battlefield, not from an uneven fight in a boxing ring inside a gambling casino. Heightening the irony is the fact that Manny is an officer in the reserve force. How could a reserve officer coming from a gambling capital have earned military honors? Ang babaw talaga ng kaligayahan ng mga henerals ng bansa. Incidentally, Manny was promoted from master sergeant to lieutenant colonel, never mind the prohibition on facial hair, without having done any of the things even a buck private in the Army does.
It only goes to show the Armed Forces of the Philippines is itself a reflection of the disordered culture of the Filipinos.
Now comes Sen. Sonny Angara introducing a resolution in the Senate to honor Manny for beating to a pulp a patsie. A sham of a championship fight, Recah Trinidad, who has covered the exploits of Filipino boxers for decades, called it. I didn’t know that the impaired culture of the Filipino people could affect the thinking of a graduate of the London School of Economics and holder of a master’s degree from Harvard Law.