Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Journalists in the brutal frontline

Journalism is one of the most dangerous profession.
There is no harder evidence than the recent massacre in Maguindanao where at least eighteen of the more than fifty slain victims were journalists.
The killing of journalists was literally an assault---in the deadliest fashion---on press freedom.
Journalists were deliberately killed so they cannot report what was to transpire last Monday, which was to kill the women on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of a gubernatorial candidate Esmael “Toto” Mangundadatu.
It is sad that journalists were placed in the frontline of violence.
In this case, I fully agree that the journalists were asked to accompany the groups in a bid to hopefully dissuade the rival powerful political faction from executing their planned violence.
In a way, the slain journalists were made as human shields.
It was wrong calculation.
But the killers were out to kill, whether or not they were journalists.
The killers had no respect for human dignity.
How would you expect them to have respect for the profession?
This act is condemnable.
It was inhuman.
I am not sure if the powerful people behind the mass slayings will be brought to justice.
Maguindanao is in the spotlight of election cheating.
So many of our national leaders owe tons to powerful politicians running the province of Maguindano.
As a matter of fact, Maguindanao single-handedly produced a senator.
That is why the Philippines has a senator from the province of Maguindanao, even if that senator is not from that place.
He was supposed to have lost in the last senatorial elections, but Maguindanao made him a winner.
Those who are suspected to be the brains behind the massacre last Monday may have an ace up their sleeves.
National leaders owe them a debt of gratitude (utang na loob).
That is why bringing them to justice may not be that easy.
Elections in Maguidnao is so unique.
The reason it is unique is because during elections, everything happens except the elections.
And what is magical, winners are proclaimed.
Those election cheating you witness in your locality, they are peanuts compared to the magic of elections in Maguindanao.
In that province, you witness fake ballots, lost election returns, disappearance of certificates of canvass.
Why, even their election supervisor disappears (where is Lentang Bedol?)
Yet, winners are proclaimed by the Comelec.
It’s a different kind of democracy there.
Now that the powerful politicians are being threatened by a former ally, they resort to violence.
And kill the innocent.
Journalists who sought to witness the filing of certificates of candidacies would have wanted to cover the initial salvo of the unique electoral process in Maguindanao.
The journalists did not even reach first base.
They were brutally silenced by people who kill in the name of politics.
By the way, one of those killed was a lawyer and sister in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP).
Last Tuesday I received a forwarded text message from Bro Pepot Fortich (BCBP Cagayan de Oro), coming from Bro Jun Dacut (BCBP GenSan):
"Let us pray for the repose of the soul of SIS CYNTHIA AYON who was included in the SENSELESS n BRUTAL MASSACRE in MAGUINDANAO. Let us also pray for her bereaved family in this very sad moment of their lives..."
We join the call to bring the perpetrators to justice.
We should not settle for anything less.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Great article on Manny Pacquiao

I have read scores of articles about Manny Pacquiao in the internet.
But this one caught my attention.
Good read.
It was written by Springs Toledo and published on the sweetscience website

By Springs Toledo

Manny Pacquiao: I’m just [an] ordinary fighter...

Freddie Roach (interrupting): –You’re not ordinary.

Manny Pacquiao: Sorry about that, master.

“He finds gaps,” said Emanuel Steward after Manny Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto in the twelfth round. Those three words mirror the words of a far older, far more legendary war tactician: Sun Tzu. “Strike at their gaps,” The Art of War asserted two thousand years ago, “attack when they are lax, don’t let the enemy figure out how to prepare.” The second knockdown of Cotto illustrated this theory. Cotto, a conventional boxer-puncher, was hit in the fourth round by an uppercut from the left side that went inside and underneath his guard. Pacquiao found a gap, capitalized on the momentary carelessness of an onrushing opponent, and spent the rest of the fight exploding every potential solution Cotto thought he had.

“When you are going to attack nearby make it look as if you are going to go a long way,” Sun Tzu said, “when you are going to attack far away, make it look as if you are going just a short distance.” Pacquiao seems to be moving out when he’s coming in and coming in when he’s moving out. He exploits expectations with illusions. He “draws them in” and then “takes them by confusion.” Trainer Freddie Roach, himself a former professional boxer, agrees that Pacquiao is “very hard to read.” Pacquiao continues punching when his opponent expects a pause, his angles are bizarre, and he is often not where he is expected to be after a combination. Due to such unorthodoxies, this southpaw is a master of destroying the timing and rhythm of a conventional fighter. He is similar to Joe Calzaghe in that regard. Mikkel Kessler said that Calzaghe “ruins your boxing.” Indeed, Pacquiao does worse than that.

While a disruptive boxer like Calzaghe spills ink all over your blueprint and laughs about it, Pacquiao ruins your blueprint, but then adds injury to insult by crashing the drafting table over your head.

Pacquiao has athletic gifts that translate well in the ring: disruptive rhythm, timing, and speed, all financed by shocking power that belies his featherweight frame. As if this weren’t enough, his whiskers safely absorbed the shock of Cotto’s left hooks. He was never hurt, which raises eyebrows. Manny, we must remember, was exchanging punches in a division forty pounds north of the one he began in. And he reveled in it, he invited it, even snarling at times and standing disdainfully in the final stanzas to challenge the manhood of the retreating Puerto Rican. Roberto Duran, 58, watched from the crowd. His coal-black eyes remembering the night he dethroned another welterweight who thought he could outgun a smaller man. Duran watched Pacquiao’s black hair flying with the force of his blows, his beard paying unintentional tribute. A smile, once sinister, betrayed his lips.

Despite the glory heaped on him by a celebrity-starved public and an island nation eager for eminence, Pacquiao is not the flawless fighter that Duran was when he handed Sugar Ray Leonard his first defeat. Pacquiao’s humanity can be sensed if not seen in his nervousness as battle commences. It takes him a round or two to find his rhythm and gauge his distance and timing. Before that happens he is prone to reach in, get off balance in range, and will often leave windows open for counters. After that happens, his opponent, any opponent, is in peril.

He can be controlled, particularly by welterweights, but it will take a trainer and a fighter who are willing to give up conventional strategies and think out of the box. Convention is broken down by revolution, and Manny Pacquiao fights like a revolution.

Alas, even the trainer who recognizes the need for a counter-revolutionary strategy is faced with another problem –the trainer in the other corner:

Freddie Roach. The formidable Freddie Roach.

Roach has Parkinson’s disease, which has burdened him with tremors, slurring, and odd pauses during conversations. Its symptoms can be as disconcerting to conventional conversationalists as Manny Pacquiao’s style is to conventional fighters; but his disability also gives him an aura of alien brilliance like Stephen Hawking.

It has had no effect on his knack for strategy.

Roach did well not to tamper with Pacquiao’s unorthodoxy. He streamlined it and added balance, deliberate feints, angles, defense, and a two-fisted attack. Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao has a foundation in fundamentals. Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao’s lessons occurred later in his career, while Floyd’s were drilled into him as a small child. Also unlike Mayweather who claims to disdain strategy, Manny enters the ring with a master plan or three. Sun Tzu emphasized this: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.” Roach spends hours and days and weeks and months in study. He deconstructs his opponent and finds patterns –“habits” as he calls them, to exploit. Then he teaches Manny to “see it as [he] sees it.”

At times, the eyes of Freddie Roach seem to focus on a higher plane inaccessible to anyone else. Perhaps he communes with the ghost of Eddie Futch. Futch was his mentor, and was among the greatest trainers of the 20th century. Futch sparred with Joe Louis and learned his trade in the company of master boxers like Holman Williams. He was the strategist behind the first defeat of Muhammad Ali by Joe Frazier, the second defeat of Ali by Ken Norton, Riddick Bowe’s defeat of the undefeated Evander Holyfield, and Montell Griffin’s disqualification win over the undefeated Roy Jones. Freddie Roach learned at his knee. Manny Pacquiao learned at Freddie’s.

The most popular boxer in the world today was catapulted into stardom after he defeated Oscar De La Hoya and then Ricky Hatton. Serious boxing fans know the truth. De La Hoya and Hatton were simply two candles on a cake already baked between 2003 and 2008 by great Mexicans from the lower weight divisions: Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez. These are the men who tried him in fire much like Murderers' Row tried Archie Moore in the 1940s and Philadelphia tried Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the 1970s. Pacquiao has evolved bloodily into a complete fighter and then some. He is an experienced, natural athlete with power that exponentially rises with weight. He has a style that is as confusing as a hall of mirrors and as difficult to solve as Chinese math. He is a willing student with an expanding set of skills. Behind him stands a trainer with a direct link to Eddie Futch who was a product of boxing’s golden decade and rubbed shoulders with many gods of war. Manny’s pugilistic pedigree summons the gold of yesterday to overcome the iron of today.

Boxing is a character sport first and a skills sport second. Manny’s character was formed in a background that is ideal for a fighter –a background set in the kind of third world poverty that Americans have not known for seventy years, but a background known to spawn fighters in back alleys amid broken bottles and broken dreams. Manny ran away from home at fourteen to spare his mother one more mouth to feed. He exchanged real poverty for worse poverty –in an act of sacrifice. This fighter has not only suffered, he also understood and embraced self-denial at early adolescence.

The toughest sport in the world is easy for someone like him. Pacquiao has something to fight for as only a poor man can, for self, for family, for country. He has the discipline to do it, and he has the perspective to transcend it. The Sweet Science is meaningful to him; his participation in it is an expression of love and loyalty, of self-actualization. So he approaches battle with joy.

And that isn’t all.

Manny believes that the hand of God himself is on his shoulder. Cynical secularism may scoff at such ancient notions, but irreverence is irrelevant here. Manny believes this –utterly. And it gives him an edge in that he is completely self-possessed and palpably unconcerned with the risks of the ring. He goes not only willingly, but happily. Throughout history, like-minded people have strode confidently into lion’s dens, climbed into kamikaze cockpits, blown themselves up at market places, sang while burning at a stake, and volunteered to die first at Nazi death camps to spare strangers. Pacquiao’s religiosity is that kind of powerful. It is a major reason why he smiles and waves on his way to battle dragons.

Boxing fans take note: his frame of mind was shared by Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali.

Emanuel Steward’s assertion that the thirty-year-old welterweight champion, now 50-3-2, belongs “up there” with Ali and Robinson was half-wrong. When Robinson was thirty, he was defeated once in 131 bouts and went on to finish his career with the scalps of eighteen world champions hanging from his belt. Manny isn’t near that. He is a typhoon blowing over structures less sturdy than those built in the golden era of boxing. But remember, he isn’t finished yet.

Like the legends before him, Manny Pacquiao sees himself as a man of destiny… a patriot fighting for a flag, a Christian laughing at lions… Such men are rarely taken down by anything except time and hubris. They are larger than their foes even when they are not.

Such men are larger than themselves.


Springs Toledo can be contacted at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What elective position is Pacquiao qualified to run for?

Manny Pacquiao’s systematic demolition of Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto last Sunday came at the onset of the national elections.
This early, many political parties and politicians are egging Manny Pacquiao to run for a national elective office.
It seems Manny has been asked to run for all national elective position except perhaps, the presidency.
Is Manny Pacquiao qualified to run for any of the national elective positions in the coming May elections?
The answer is no, due to his age.
Manny Pacquiao will only be thirty one years old later this year.
Manny Pacquiao’s listed birthdate is December 17, 1978.
Manny Pacquiao is neither qualified to run for President, Vice President or Senator.
But Manny Pacquiao is right on the dot, in his quest to become congressman.
He is qualified to run for congressman
It think this is what he intends to do.
I also think he has better chances of winning, this time.

Constitutional qualifications 101.

Not for President (yet) for Manny Pacquiao.
Under the constitution Section 2 Article VII, it says No person may be elected President unless he is forty years of age on the day of the election.
Not for Vice President either.
I have already heard some quarters publicly endorsing Manny Pacquiao to run for vice president.
But Manny Pacquiao is also not yet qualified to run for vice president in the coming May elections.
Under Section 3, Article VII of the constitutional, it says “there shall be a vice president who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the president.”
It is clear that the candidate for vice president must have the same qualifications as that of the candidate for president.
That means, the vice president must also be forty years of age on the day of the election.
With these constitutional qualifications, Manny Pacquiao cannot run for president or vice president. Not until 2022.
Neither for senator (yet) for Manny.
Manny Pacquiao also cannot run for senator in next years elections.
Despite this, I saw many Pacquiao named flashed as one of the possible senatorial candidates for the administration party.
Under Section 3 Article VI of the constitution, it says no person shall be a senator unless he is, on the day of the election, at least thirty five years of age.
Since Manny will only be thirty one years old in May 2010, he cannot run for senator yet. Not even in 2013.
But Manny is qualified to run for congressman.
Under Section 6, Article VII, it says no person shall be a member of the house of representatives unless he is, on the day of the election, at least twenty-five years of age.
I guess Manny will be running for congressman.
This could be another victory for the boxing champ.
But it is his victory against Floyd Mayweather Jr. that excites me.
Better still, I'm would also be excited to see if Pacman get survive that knock-out wallop by Jinkee, because of Krista.