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Mind da News: ‘The Handwriting on the Wall’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, December 12, 2012 – Edwin G. Especjo, in his latest column article, “PAQUIAO WATCH: When hunger is no longer there” (MindaNews, January 5, 2012), revealed the latest that he saw in Manny Pacquiao – seen as the most sensational and sensationalized Filipino boxer – the only boxer in the world of all time to have held titles in eight divisions starting from flyweight with superlative distinction.

Espejo said this of Manny Pacquaio:

(1) In 2011, he earned in his two fights – the most he had made in a single year – “more money than the combined annual budget of General Santos city and his adopted province Sarangani”. How much? No amount mentioned.

(2) He is “now a member of Philippine Congress, is no longer the hungry kid who turned to boxing as a way of living 17 years ago”. [He must be the only boxer in the world of all time to be an elected member of his country’ legislative body – Congress or Parliament – while a reigning champion with more time spent in training for multi-million dollar fights than in law-making sessions.]

(3) No longer living in a shack, he “now owns several mansions including one in Forbes Park, exclusive enclave of the very rich and elite in the country … a fleet of luxury cars … and … his newly purchased P25-million (US$570,000) yacht ‘Sarangani’s Pride’. He travels business class when not on chartered flights and private planes.”

(4) “He has masseurs wherever he goes and loves to be called ‘Ninong’, an obvious throwback to Francis Ford Coppola’s epic gangster movie, The Godfather trilogy.” Espejo must be referring to Pacquiao’s pride in the social importance being given to him not to the notorious allusion of “Godfather” in the gangster movie.

(5) “Pacquiao … says he is still a long way from retirement and will continue to box for as long as he can absorb the punches as well as he can dish out punishments.”

But for all the wealth, fame, pride and adulation worldwide that Manny Pacquaio is now basking in, Espejo reveals the downside:

“… Pacquaio’s 2011 performance was a big letdown.  He failed to finish off Shane Mosley in his first fight of the year, which without the third round knockdown would have been voted the most boring marquee match last year.  Then he eked out another closely contested victory against arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez which many thought should have gone the Mexican’s way.”

While qualifying that those “two lackluster fights” did not mean Pacquiao is now “a washed up fighter”, Espejo mused:

“But maybe, maybe, the hunger is no longer there. Maybe, his outside-of-the-ring commitments are finally taking their toll on his focus and dedication.  Maybe the lack of competition is turning him lazy.

“Maybe success has gotten into his head that he now believes he is indestructible.  Maybe he is finally ripe for the picking and, as the prestigious Sports Illustrated predicts, Pacquiao will finally lose a fight this year against – of all fighters – Juan Manuel Marquez, in a fourth fight that will have Top Rank’s Bob Arum salivating.”

Without intending, perhaps, Espejo has shown for Pacquiao and his advisers to see and read “the handwriting on the wall” – an idiom or expression which means a prediction “of doom or misfortune” especially for those drunk with power.

[The idiom alludes to an occurrence while King Belshazzar of Babylon was feasting – historians have placed the date on October 12, 539 BC or 2,551 years ago. A hand – just a supernatural hand – wrote a message on the wall. The king summoned the imprisoned Prophet Daniel, who interpreted the message as a warning of Belshazzar’s imminent fall. Indeed, that very night the Persians and the Medes sacked Babylon. Belshazzar was killed and Darius became king. — From Wikipedia]

What is “the handwriting on the wall” for Pacquiao? His stay on the top of the boxing world is numbered. Is he prepared for thefall?.

Espejo perorated: “What drive fighters to excel are their hunger and desire to reach the top.  Once there, they need to continue to be hungry to maintain their competitive levels.  Once the hunger is lost, the way down could be as quick as a free fall.

For Pacquiao, the only pillar that sustains him is boxing. The pillar will not stand long. Age cannot be turned back.

When he can no longer command millions of dollar, Bob Arum will stop promoting his fights; Freddie Roach will stop training him. They love the dollars and fame Manny can bring, not Manny. Manny’s true worth is weighed in dollars. After the last Pacquiao-Marquez fight, Arum uttered to Marquez in one word his regard for boxing and boxers: Business.

When he’s retired, the sources of his wealth dry up; so will his million-peso commercial endorsements. How wisely has he invested his hard-earned billions? How will he be able to maintain his mansions, his fleet of luxury cars, his yacht and his neo-elite life? These must be in “the handwriting on the wall”.

When retired, he will no longer be lionized. How far will “memory” sustain his political ambition?  Can he win a reelection in 2013 – or the governorship of Sarangani — after making what looks like a mockery of Congress as lone representative of Sarangani? Or, can he get a nomination for the vice presidency and win in 2016 as his springboard for the presidency in 2022 – his dream or that of his political handlers?

In the event, his political bubble bursts, he has to be engaged in prestigious occupation to maintain his high social standing. Can his acting and singing talents bring him new fame and fortunes? Can his doctorate honoris causa from the University of the Visayas land him in a high government or private corporation position? With his “Lt. Colonel” reserve rank in the army, will he be called to active duty to soon become a general in the Armed Forces of the Philippines?

But fate is very much kinder to Manny Pacquiao than to King Belshazzar. For the King of Babylon, the moment of reckoning was right during the night he was feasting. Should Manny heed what Espejo has written as a sort of “the handwriting on the wall”, he will have enough time to find means to cushion the inevitable fall of his fortunes when age catches up with him and he retires from boxing.

Will Manny heed Edwin Espejo, apparently one of his publicists? As Leo Tolstoy, the immortal Russian novelist wrote, “God sees the truth, but waits.” (Patricio P. Diaz, General Santos City/MindaNews)

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