One thing is sure, Pacquiao had redeemed himself.
On July 15, I was in the midst of history-making as the country’s flag carrier Philippine Airlines received its first-ever Airbus A350-900 aircraft — a milestone in that it brings PAL to the next level of air supremacy, as well as celebrates its new flagship in the long-haul category.
PAL’s chief Lucio Tan also celebrated his 83rd birthday yesterday, July 17, in lavish ceremonies marked by the rollout of the A350-900 and Air321neo.
The PAL Airbus made its way home after special ceremonies held in Toulouse, France, taking the Philippine flag up in air with a proud toss of its new aerodynamic wingtips.
At around the same time, our own boxing king Manny Pacquiao was preparing for his fight against Lucas Matthysse. We all knew it and we wondered how the 39-year-old Pambansang Kamao would fare against his opponent this time around.
Emerging the next day from the cocoon comfort of our seats, preparing for descent into Manila, the captain made an announcement: Pacquiao had won, knocking out Matthysse in the seventh round!
The whole plane cheered, as I bet the whole viewing public did back in the Philippines.
Pacman fights have always had the power to keep people off the streets, crime rates dipping radically, and uniting our divided nation of islands.
Cha-cha debates? Forgotten for now. Election-related wranglings? Gone. Bangsamoro Law arguments? Silenced with a hush.
Even when the disappointment of a loss for Pacquiao knocked out our cheerfulness in the past, Filipinos had always been drawn together by this sport, rooting for one man and not for separate teams.
One thing is sure, Pacquiao had redeemed himself. He had shown that he was not finished. And those who had been so quick to dismiss him, or drop him for the next big winner, would have gotten the wind knocked from their sails with this recent triumph.
Manny Pacquaio’s wins had earned him glory and brought the same to our nation. It ushered him into politics and made him a symbol of hope. His life is an inspiration — he worked very hard to succeed, and he not only broke boxing records, he has also ventured into politics, basketball, business, TV hosting, acting and music.
But it is because of his greatness in the boxing ring that we, Filipinos, could hold our heads high in spite of troubling issues that brought the country down many times before.
For just like Manny, who lost to Jeff Horn and that bully of a fighter Floyd Mayweather, we felt we could pick ourselves up and start again.
In fact, some sports analysts had commented in the past that Pacquiao was aging, losing his power in the process. Yet he showed them that age is just a number — he still had fight!
As “Kapitan” Lucio once said, as quoted in a Forbes Magazine article: “Even the accomplished suffers setbacks sometimes. The more bitter the lessons, the greater the successes will be.”
For Pacman, it has always been fight, not flight.
As he told China Daily in an article, “Many of you know me as a legendary boxer, and I’m proud of that.
“However, that journey was not always easy. When I was younger, I became a fighter because I had to survive. I had nothing. I had no one to depend on except myself. I realized that boxing was something I was good at, and I trained hard so that I could keep myself and my family alive.”
Grit, hope, an unstoppable spirit. Whatever his faults are, and whatever controversies hound him as they are wont to hound the most successful people, Pacquiao will keep going.
Just like our flag carrier’s own journey, it has always been about fight — to compete in the ever-growing travel industry, and to keep flying, higher than ever.