Heroism and Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao

Apr 15, 2010

Every time Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao wins a fight, at least one person brings up the reality check: that Pacquiao’s victory is his and his alone.


Manny Pacquiao is the first boxer in history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions.

Manny Pacquiao is the first boxer in history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions.

Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Sindh Today


His victory doesn’t lift us up from poverty; it doesn’t cure corruption from government. Once the fight is over, it’s the same-old-same-old for the lot of us. It’s the jaded reaction that comes with Pacman winning every title and every match he ever did in his illustrious career: Pacquiao may be a champion, but we aren’t.

There was a time that I hated Pacman so much that all the respect I can give him was an iota of grudging appreciation for his boxing skills. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like the guy as an actor or a potential politician, but his fighting spirit and pugilistic prowess are simply undeniable. Pacquiao in the ring, is unstoppable. For a guy who makes his living in a boxing ring, taking punches and making them, every minute and round counting as a dollar in the purse, Pacquiao is our hero.

As a Filipino, Pacman is my champion, my ring legend, my icon. Yet a title belt is not the difference between me and Pacman.

I thought about it in terms of jobs. Pacquiao makes his living through boxing, and we only happen to ride the legend of this hero by having our flag carried to the ring when he makes his entrance, our anthem sang before a fight, and our flag emblazoned on his jacket and his trunks when he decimates his opponent. None of us ever have to do that. I don’t carry the flag of the Philippines every time I go to work, or bear the hopes (and bets) of an entire nation when I write copy and make reports.

Put simply, if not curtly and in the most acerbic eight words I can muster right now: it’s not my job to be a hero.

In my country, the most basic demands of citizenship are sometimes considered heroic. A sense of civic duty and having spine to stand up for what you believe in can turn you into a hero. There’s no shortage of heroes in this country, whether you sing praises to them or not. There’s Efren Penaflorida, for one who just won CNN Hero of the Year. There’s Myrna Pocare and Celia Regulacion. There’s Manny Pacquiao, even. They’re doing things that, at least from where we all stand, is something extremely difficult and heroic: be Filipinos.

At its most rudimentary, I guess I should start doing things for my country on a regular basis. I should put the welfare of my fellow Filipinos on the forefront. I guess that if it’s a trying time for heroes, the best recourse is not to be one, but to be a class act of a citizen that shines together with Pacman.

Being a part of a nation of heroes, I am extremely ashamed and embarrassed to say that I don’t know the first thing about being one. Part of Manny’s job is to carry the hope of the Filipino people with him every time he enters a boxing ring. I don’t have to do that at work.

I guess that’s something we can all think about. Like it or not, Pacquiao entered that ring and beat Clottey, Cotto, Hatton, Dela Hoya and the rest, not only with his livelihood in his mind, but with the realization and recognition that he represents his country in the ring. Last I checked, I should be doing that, too, as a citizen of the Philippines, yet I didn’t represent my country on my desk at the office today. Sure, I did a good job but does that put me in the same league as Pacquiao? Can I put my arm around his shoulder and say that like him, I’m a hero? Probably not. Even the most basic of duties like voting, paying taxes, obeying the law, and being a watchdog of society are now acts confined to the sacrosanct, the impossible dream, the heroic. This is sad, but true.

Can I put my arm around his shoulder and say that like him, I’m a hero? Probably not.

There’s the difference between me and Pacman. Pacman makes it part of his job to represent and to give honour to his country. I don’t have to do that when writing copy, even if I could and should. All that said, I don’t.

I can pontificate about heroism yet I have done absolutely nothing significant that could make me like Pacquaio, much less put myself in a position to look down at him or anyone else for that matter. I do not know how to be a hero. I don’t meet or reach the basic requirement of being a hero: to do things for the sake of one’s countrymen. From that basic requirement – citizenship – every other succeeding definition of heroism is subject to discussion. For a guy who lives in a place where everyone’s a hero, I haven’t been doing my share at all.

No, I’m not going to wear boxing gloves and follow in Manny’s footsteps but I still have the rest of my life to figure out my place in a company of heroes.


Marck Rimorin also blogs at The Marocharim Experiment