Tag Archives: Manny Pacquiao

Column: Pacquiao misunderstands ‘spiritual renewal’

Pastor Manny Pacquiao takes center stage, again. Published on March 7, 2017.

Yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, the following trended on Twitter: #DDSBigReveal, Lascañas, Senate, Manny Pacquiao, Davao Death Squad, and Spiritual Renewal. The six trends were all related to the Senate hearing conducted by the committee on public order to assess retired policeman Arturo Lascañas’ dramatic accusations against President Duterte.

The last, in particular, referred to the witness’ explanation for changing his testimony. Last October, before the Senate committee on justice, he denied the existence of the Davao Death Squad. It was just “media hype,” he said. On Feb. 20, at a news conference in the Senate, and then yesterday, under oath a second time, he said he had been forced to lie the first time because his family’s safety had not yet been secured, but that he really wanted to tell the nation what he knows about Mr. Duterte’s alleged personal liquidation squad because of a “spiritual renewal.”

I can understand why several senators questioned Lascañas’ conversion story. (I use “conversion” here to mean, not a moving from one religion or denomination to another, but rather a turning—that’s the root of the word—from one path to another.) It goes to the issue of motivation. Why change one’s mind, and perjure one’s self? The senators are right in assuming that neither should be taken lightly. Lascañas does have some serious explaining to do.

But I think one reason “spiritual renewal” trended on Twitter yesterday is people reacted to the narrow view some of the senators held about that religious experience. Continue reading


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Column: Pacquiao, Matobato, and the science of memory

Published on October 4, 2016.

I HAPPENED to be in the Senate’s main session hall when Sen. Manny Pacquiao questioned the controversial witness and self-described Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato on Sept. 22. I had a ringside seat to what Sen. Ping Lacson later called “a splendid interpellation.” The chair of the committee on justice and human rights, Sen. Dick Gordon, was also effusive in his praise.

What, exactly, did the eight-time world boxing champion do?

Pacquiao managed to entrap Matobato in a web of the witness’ own making. He began with a seemingly tangential question. What is your basis for trusting a person? he asked Matobato, in Bisaya (which Sen. Migz Zubiri then translated, in English, for the benefit of the rest of the committee).

If he’s a good man, Matobato replied, in Bisaya.

What are the other reasons that would make you trust a person, or make you believe him? Pacquiao asked in Filipino.

If he treats me well, the witness replied.

If a person keeps changing his word, would we still trust him? Pacquiao asked. Continue reading

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Column: The four deans: partisanship, not journalism

Published on May 12, 2015.

LAST WEEK, “the present and past deans” of the UP College of Mass Communication issued “Fact or Fiction?” a strongly worded statement expressing “its [sic] grave concern over the highly unprofessional coverage of the Mary Jane Veloso story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.” In particular, the deans (only four of them, not all of those who have served in the position, as the definite article seems to imply) criticized the Inquirer for the reports it carried in two issues: those of April 29 and 30.

There is no quarrel, I have no argument, with the first point of criticism. (And please allow me to be clear: What follows is my personal opinion, not the position of the newspaper that has been home to me for almost 15 years.)

“In its April 29 headline and story (‘Death came before dawn’), the PDI quite dramatically announced the execution of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia, an execution which it turns out never actually happened because Veloso was given temporary reprieve.” This was a major error, one compounded by the melodramatic and meme-friendly phrasing of the headline. The newspaper apologized for the error twice, first on Wednesday mid-afternoon through a statement circulated on other Inquirer platforms, and then on the front page of the newspaper on Thursday. The apology came with a resolve to do better: “We are revamping newsroom processes to better inform and serve our readers and stakeholders.” Continue reading

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Column: Even though Mayweather would win

Published on April 15, 2014.

The undefeated Floyd Mayweather has an excellent reason to finally agree to a hundred-million-dollar fight with Manny Pacquiao: The odds are he would win. And Pacquiao has an additional reason to want the fight: The risk of losing is high. Continue reading

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Column: Pacquiao vs Marx, or Funding a Senate run

Published on February 11, 2014.

It should have come as no surprise that, as he was scrambling up the ladder of worldwide fame with his thrilling boxing style, Manny Pacquiao also made up his mind to run for political office. He famously failed on his first try, when tiny Darlene Antonino-Custodio bested him in the congressional race to represent General Santos City, in 2007. But he is now on his second term as lawmaker, representing the province of Sarangani.

No surprise, because Pacquiao has a fighter’s killer instinct, and in creating his own political base (his wife is now also vice governor of the province) he was reaching for the jugular. In his view (I am hazarding a guess), the real source of staying power in Philippine society is not wealth, but political clout. Continue reading

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Column: Rejoinders: Pacman, Sotto, atbp

This column, I realized on rereading it, can also be understood as an attempt to understand what “Christian” does not mean. Published on January 8, 2013.

Allow me to tie up some loose ends from 2012, stories and letters which have nagged at me for some time. Let me start with the most recent.

My friend Joan Orendain, the popular publicist, wrote “An open letter to Manny Pacquiao” the other week; the letter to the editor saw print on Dec. 27. It offers what she calls “a Christian point of view” for the just defeated boxer “to consider.” But in fact I saw nothing specifically Christian in Joan’s unfortunately dismissive attitude to Pacquiao.

The online version of the letter ran up impressive statistics: almost 3,500 shares, over 500 recommendations on Facebook. I can understand the letter’s appeal, beginning, as it does, with the candid confession that it was written by “one who is pleased—not happy, just pleased—that you lost your last two fights.” But to borrow Joan’s opening putdown, it seems it was Joan herself who turned out to be “in a highly confused state.”

Continue reading

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Column: How the Osama raid, and Mosley, was spun

A White House official’s rational exuberance–and its implications for understanding the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. Published on May 10, 2011.

Buyer beware—that’s the thought bubble that pops up in my head these days when I come across the name of John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s advisor on counter-terrorism. By my reckoning, the most egregious errors in the first White House account of the daring raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were attributable to Brennan. The assertion, for instance, that Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield. Continue reading

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Column: Ambassador Pacman’s boxing diplomacy

Published on June 8, 2010. I forgot to include in my short list in the first paragraph one unexpected encounter with a Pacquiao fan: In Hong Kong, a Sri Lankan war reporter asked me: So, do you know Manny Pacquiao? When I told him that as a matter of fact I had covered a training camp of his in Los Angeles, his eyes lit up, and he started talking, in fascinating detail, of Pacman’s most recent fights.

On business trips in recent weeks, I got a first-hand look at the worldwide fame of Manny Pacquiao. Whether it is a banker in Hong Kong or an airline employee in Jakarta or a taxi driver in Singapore, Pacman is now “top of mind,” when talk comes round to the Philippines.

It was in the last encounter, with a pleasantly loquacious cab driver on the (relatively) long drive to Nanyang Technological University [in Singapore] last Friday, that I began to see a pattern—and an idea began to seize me. Continue reading

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Column: Pacman, Bisdak!

An example, I guess, of what Frank Kermode calls “knocking copy.” Sad to say, I had too much fun writing this. Published November 17, 2009.

I find myself agreeing with my friend Billy Esposo so often that I thought it might be instructive, and fun, to discuss a subject where we disagree. In two columns last December, Billy made the case that the Pacquiao-De la Hoya fight was not the great fight it was made out to be. Continue reading

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Column: Blogging the 2010 elections

Published on May 5, 2009

Second-class nation. The decision by the giant GMA network and long-time blocktimer Solar Sports to delay the telecast of Manny Pacquiao’s Las Vegas fights to accommodate innumerable ads is creating a second class of TV viewers: those who cannot afford to watch pay-per-view TV or do not wish or know how to follow a boxing match on AM radio. Think about it: several million Filipinos saw or heard Ricky Hatton fall a third and final time just before noon last Sunday. The rest of the nation saw the perfectly leveraged left hook which knocked Hatton out even before he hit the canvas when it was already almost three in the afternoon.

I’ve read a statement from GMA, placing the burden squarely on the shoulders of Solar Sports. While it is true that Solar earns through the advertising, GMA cannot be entirely blameless; it sets the rate which Solar must pay.

Pacquiao’s many fans deserve to watch his fights live. Solar can make it happen by dramatically raising its ad rates and drastically reducing the number of advertisers. A company that picks up the entire tab—a San Miguel, say, or a PLDT, ponying up about as much as it does for an Olympic sponsorship—will reap a nation’s gratitude. Continue reading

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