Pacquiao and poverty


Tom Thompson, a sports columnist writing out of New Orleans, recently said that "Here in America, you could combine Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Tom Cruise and 50 Cent into one person and you still wouldn't have what the Philippines has in their number-one, all-time superstar Manny Pacquiao. He's that important to his people.

    "As an American, I find myself somewhat envious of what the people of the Philippines have. We have nothing close to what they share with Manny Pacquiao."

    Indeed, the humble panadero from General Santos City literally fought his way through adversity to become our living national treasure. It is easy to misread a lot of things into Manny Pacquiao's win over the Mexican legend Erik Morales. Astute politicians are naturally quick to take advantage of the media mileage that being close to Pacman brings. For most Filipinos, however, Pacquiao's stunning victory over Erik the Great served to uplift their battered spirits - albeit quite briefly. With the financial wealth that came with that triumph, he personified the marginalized Filipinos' shared dream of a way out of the poverty trap, in true teleserye tradition.

    Yet, in one of his post-fight interviews, Manny, in all candor, said that he would prefer his two young sons not to follow in his footsteps. "Masyadong mahirap ang boksing (boxing is too difficult)," Pacman said. The statement brings us to the time-honored way to get ahead in life: quality education. At this point, Manny can afford to send his cute kids to the best schools here or abroad if he so desires, and he could very well do so.

    His adoring multitude, meanwhile, will have to make with sending their own children to public schools and hope for the best. Not a few of them might even prod their sons - or even daughters - to visit the local gym and spar a few rounds on their way home from school. Who knows?