Spin of “Saint Manny ” Pacquiao Carries a Wallop

by Charles Jay

Yes, it’s working already.

Arturo Bastes, a bishop in Sorsogon, may be the first to utter it. “Many saints were called crazy,” said the bishop, in an interview with reporters, “We can also have modern saints in the Philippines like Pacquiao.”

The story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that quoted Bishop Bastes explained that he was “ecstatic about Pacquiao’s decision to heed God’s message and retire from boxing.”

Except that Pacquiao’s not retiring. He’s simply talking about leaving boxing in 2013, or after three, four or five more fights, which frankly, may be when he was going to leave the sport anyway. After all, the guy would be closing in one 35 years of age by that time.

But the point is, in the current news cycle, people aren’t talking about Pacquiao possibly harboring a fugitive from justice in his house, or being a potential tax cheat. They’re talking about the stunning revelations he gathered in his sleep, with a message to quit fighting, for God’s sake.

This is called “deflecting the story.”

And what the hell (okay, bad choice of words), while he is at it, he might as well try to not only change the story, but actually reverse it, right? In other words, try this imagery: who in their right mind would ever suspect a Congressman who was a messenger of God to boot of hiding away a wanted criminal in his mansion, or evading taxes?

It’s happening.

And it’s masterful.

Veteran writer Joaquin Henson of the Philippine Star, who calls himself “The Dean,” sounded like he was right there, ready to join Manny in that elevator to the Top. “it is a blessing that in our lifetime, a phenom like Manny Pacquiao has come along to bring pride and honor to our country.” Maybe, in light of reports made by “Pacquiao Watch” columnist Edwin Espejo that PacMan gave suspected carjacker Mohammad Akia safe harbor in his home, and the subsequent libel lawsuit filed by Pacquiao, Henson might be willing to personally escort Espejo to prison, as the draconian laws dictate.

Something called the Catholic Bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate has asked Pacquiao to become its “Bible Ambassador.”

A writer named Beth Celis, penning her column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is right on board. “Those who heed God’s word commit almost no error in whatever they do,” she writes. “I believe Manny has made a covenant with God. He will give up all his vices, including his boxing career, which isn’t likely to last long anyway, for a successful and rewarding political career.”

Although these folks are MAKING our point for us, they are MISSING the point at the same time. The point of the exercise, as it is being rolled out, is to change the story; they are indeed complicit in changing the story, but they don’t realize that the real story is, well, the same old story people have trotted out for years to misdirect the discussion.

The contradictions are all over the place. Part of Jocelyn R. Uy’s Inquirer story reads like this: “Pacquiao revealed recently that he was seriously considering retirement after God appeared to him in a dream in January and told him to quit boxing.”

If you are going to push yourself as some sort of messenger of God, and God tells you to do something, you don’t “seriously consider” it. In other words, we are to believe that God told him to do something and Pacquiao said something like, “Okay, good idea. I’ll think about it. But first let me sign for this fight against Timothy Bradley, and then have a couple more fights, and of course, there’s the possibility of that fight with the evil Mayweather. Tell you what – sometime next year, I’ll get back to you.”

In Henson’s puff piece, after pointing out that Pacquiao had made the extraordinary move of actually giving up his fighting cocks (so as not to torture God’s animals, I assume), he wrote that “God has made him a messenger of His word and before a global audience, he wants to speak out for Christianity” and later, that “Even as he has rediscovered the Lord, Pacquiao remains focused as a fighter. It’s what God wants him to be.”

But you see, I thought the idea was that God DIDN’T want him to be a fighter anymore. I don’t think He asked him to win a couple of additional championship belts first, then hang ’em up. At least this is the general tone of the story Pacquiao would like for us to believe.

Even the overzealous bishop concurs. “We in the Catholic Church, we consider boxing a bit immoral because many people have been killed,” he said.

I don’t take that to mean it’s okay if the guy doing the damage is Pacquiao, even if he is a “modern day saint.” Well, ESPECIALLY if he is a modern-day saint.

These guys all need to get their story straight before selling it.

And this whole notion about Pacquiao finding God by giving up certain “vices” is kind of silly. Among those that has been mentioned prominently by Henson and many other writers is that of gambling. Well, all of us can probably agree that we can manage to play for hours at a time at a blackjack or poker table and avoid pounding anyone’s face in.

Unless we encounter a particularly “bad beat,” that is. LOL.

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