By Katrin Anne Arcala
In the aftermath of a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December, issues on Manny Pacquaio’s career and ability as a
fighter lingered. Some said he should probably retire. Others urged him to move forward and reclaim his ranks. Although he is not the same fighter compared to his yesteryears, he proved at Macau last Sunday that at 34, he is still a champion.
Manny moved swiftly around Brandon Rios as fans celebrated, hit after hit, of his performance. After twelve rounds of easy scoring,
Pacquiao won via unanimous decision. He stepped up the ring with minimal bruises and a little less of controversy.
But what happened in the ring was just one side of the coin. What happened in Macau did not just happen there; it was watched by
Filipinos and foreigners alike from all corners of the world. Pacquiao’s win did not just happen there; it happened everywhere.
As I was trying to reach home as fast as I could last Nov. 24, I couldn’t help but notice the houses and establishments along the highway filled with Dumagueteños from all walks of life: pedicab drivers, college students, business owners and a lot more. All eyes on the screen, all hearts on the match.
In fact, social media feeds were filled with photos of families, coworkers and barkadas gathered in a couch or in a gymnasium to witness a match important not only to Pacquiao but to the entire world of boxing and the whole Philippines.
In hard hit areas of super typhoon Yolanda, such as Leyte and Samar, evacuees gathered in roofless multipurpose centers, lying
on the floor, seemingly forgetting their loss of homes and loved ones.
And after Michael Buffer’s announcement of the obvious victory, the nation rejoiced. The whole country won.
But what was more heartwarming was the sportsmanship displayed by both parties. How Pacquiao and Rios gave each other a smile after the bell of the 12th round. How Pacquiao honoured Rios’ talent as an opponent and how Rios returned the same remark to Pacquiao. How they both went out the ring and off to their respective quarters, one with the WBO international welterweight belt, the other without, yet equally earning the respect of those who witnessed their bout.
This is victory displayed at its best. In a few days from now, Silliman University will be commencing its Intramurals 2013. Defending champions work hard to keep their titles. First timers and challengers double time to make sure they keep up with the pace. But in a week of focusing on the court as one of the five C’s of Silliman education, only a few shall step on the platform with the painted numbers one, two and three. Only a few shall own a medal or a trophy. Only a few shall earn the points to contribute to their college’s over-all standing. But if we pour our heart and skills in the court, the track, the field or even the pool, we shall earn respect. We shall be called victors.
Kudos to Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios! May Sillimanians display the same sportsmanship as that of the two boxers.