By now, every Pinoy has probably heard of Manny Pacquaio’s latest victory. I browsed through several Pinoy blogs online and found different versions of how they were awed by this humble man, who has been reaping victories left and right and making our countrymen proud. And I do share their sentiments.
I don’t have to look very far when it comes to boxing. I have an uncle who used to be trained by Flash Elorde himself. He even went to Japan several times on various matches. Once I saw his photo in the newspaper when I was a child, and that made me very proud of him. I heard that he is now a boxing trainer himself.
My dad was an avid boxing fan; because he couldn’t fight himself, he trained many aspiring young men (mostly hailing from Antique, his hometown) in our own backyard. Those young men were out-of-school youths who came from very poor families. Indeed, boxing is the poor man’s sport, and for many of those young men, it was a way to lift themselves out of poverty. I think Manny Pacquiao has become immensely popular not only because he is a great boxer; the more important reason is that he is now filthy rich. He is getting richer not just from his boxing bouts, but from the numerous commercial endorsements as well. And Pinoys simply have a soft spot for rags-to-riches success stories.
It is no wonder, then, that boxing is a popular sport in the country. I have no qualms about it. The only problem I see with boxing is that it is, like billiards and bowling, an individual sport. Now why don’t we see the same brilliance when it comes to team sports? I pondered about this for a long time, until I realized that one probable reason is because Pinoys have no concept of “teamwork.” We don’t have a grasp of the concept of self-sacrifice for the common good. We would rather step on other people’s toes in order to get ahead. We emphasize individual successes instead of team victories; we are so in love with the concept of “bida” (hero). And it doesn’t even have to be confined within the field of sports. Put a group of a Filipinos together to work for any kind of project, and guess what they will end up doing. Fighting, of course. Mostly about who’s on top and who’s not on top, who’s working and who’s not working, who’s making sipsip and who’s not. In the end the project remains unfinished because of all the squabbling. We excel as individuals but we suck as a team. Need proof? Just look at how our government system works. From my point of view, it’s every man for himself; they are not working effectively as a team to solve the problems besetting the country. We want to be a rich country, but we are endlessly waiting for heroes to lift us out of our quagmire instead of us working together as a team. And thus we remain poor.
And as long as Filipinos remain poor, boxing will be the most popular sport. Pacquiao and the others who will come after him will continue to make us proud, take us on thrill rides, and make us dream of neverending wealth and fame, if only for a few euphoric moments.
After that, it’s back to gritting our teeth through our own miseries.