I absolutely agree with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero‘s statement that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao‘s win over Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya recently should not mask the real, true state of Philippine sports. While we’re all happy and proud of Pacquiao’s win in the recently concluded “Dream Match,” (congratulations, Manny!) we should not forget that there’s still so much to be done in order to really make the Filipino truly excel in different sporting fronts (and not just in boxing).
It’s true that Pacquiao, a certified Mindanaoan by the way (he was born in Kibawe, Bukidnon and grew up in General Santos City, Mindanao), is a genuine sports hero not only among Filipinos but among boxing aficionados all over the world. What he displayed last weekend was exemplary sportsmanship, skill and dedication. (And because of his hard work, he’s now apparently a certified billionaire and two big names in the boxing arena are after him – Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.)
Still, Manny’s win should not and does not represent the overall state of Philippine sports.
Just take the case of the most recent Olympics held in Beijing, China. Haven’t we heard of our Philippine Olympic delegation’s sentiments regarding the lack of funding, the lack of equipment, the lack of proper training venues, the lack of allowances? Didn’t we hear our very own Mindanaoan diver Sheila Mae Perez say that their monthly allowance could barely support her family and yet she still strives to do her best during training and in every meet? Haven’t we heard of the still unresolved problem between the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) on the issue of the latter’s alleged dwindling remittance of the supposedly 5 percent share of PSC? (PAGCOR says that they give 5% of their sales to support PSC but PSC alleges that the remittances have been dwindling and that they don’t even receive the money in full) It’s also interesting to note that the Philippine government could only extend…what…P10…P15 Million as incentive for every Olympic gold medalist? That’s not even 1% of Pacquiao’s earnings! Plus could you just imagine if we also gave our Filipino Olympians the same “welcome home” treatment as we gave the Pacman?
Of course, I also cannot help but comment on all those politicians who really tried to squeeze in their faces in every possible photo op. I wonder if they’ll use their pictures with Pacquiao come 2010 elections like one Mindanaoan politician I know (he used his “handshake with the Pacman” photo in his campaign paraphernalia) I wish these politicians would just concentrate on crafting better laws that could really (and I mean REALLY) support the Philippine sports community. Fine, join in the celebration today, but tomorrow, please craft better legislative measures. Help raise funds for our athletes. Help boost their morale. You’ll see, we’ll have better athletes not only in the next Olympics but in all other sports competitions…and yes, there’ll be more photo ops for you.
Manny Pacquiao does deserve all the accolades, yes. No doubt about that. However, I only wish that the same accolades could be bestowed upon the many other Filipino athletes – both amateur and professional – who strive just as hard to bring glory and pride for the Philippines.