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Manny Pacquiao and national unity
Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo

In yet another spectacular show of punching prowess, phenomenal Filipino pugilist Manny Pacquiao clobbered Mexico’s previously vaunted brawler Juan Manuel Marquez in their recent rematch, wresting the championship title from the latter in the super featherweight division. Riveted to the predictably fascinating fight, the Filipinos, in the sweltering roadside eateries, in the air-conditioned theaters, or in the comfort of their homes, watched the bout with a high sense of patriotic pride, united in their support and admiration to their legendary boxing hero. For a brief interval, there was a dramatic political halt in our country, with the passionate pitch over the controversial ZTE-NBN deal hushed by the collective exuberance occasioned Manny’s triumph.

Characteristically, such is the scene whenever Manny Pacquiao fights and wins in his boxing career. His countrymen, sundered and seemingly irreconcilable, lay aside their political differences and other causes of disunion as they are brought together by a shared pride over his boxing victory.

Indeed, if there is any compelling message from this latest show of unity among us, Filipinos, it is the fact that we are a people easy to unite if the cause is good or worthy of popular support. It debunks the flawed perception that we are a race doomed to a perpetual disharmony or a country held back by political strife or ethnic enmities that worsen as years go by. We are a divided people not because we are dogmatic or driven by mutual dislike for one another but because we find the call for national unity and reconciliation generally insincere and even self-serving. To be sure, a people outraged by epic corruption in the government cannot be simply told to stop making noise and to support an ongoing economic program instead. We do not countenance corruption, we do not incentivize immorality and abuses in the national leadership.

Yes, we unite easily for a cause that promotes national interest or builds pride for our country. Conversely, we demonstrate public fury if we see proofs of enormous iniquities from those vested with political power by virtue of public trust or democratic mandate.

Without a doubt, public mood will recede to its implacable, accusatory bent after this temporary celebratory sentiment created by Manny’s latest win. For there remain unaddressed questions crowding the people’s mind over various issues, anomalies, or scandals that call to account well-placed personages in the government. There will be no closure to these questions unless truth is given due course and justice is served—to the full satisfaction of the public.