Monday, May 09, 2011

Pacquiao wins, as usual

This was my column on the date indicated above. This post is antedated.

We’ve gotten used to it that any other outcome seems unthinkable. In a way, it can be said that we have way become so used to a Manny Pacquiao victory that we have come to expect nothing less. I actually dread the thought of - heaven forbid - a Pacquaio defeat; fearing something similar to a national crisis. I can just imagine the kind of caterwauling, head-banging, and national soul-searching that kind of tragedy would entail. A parallel factoid comes to mind: At the height of his popularity, it was supposedly a big no-no to depict the action king of Philippine movies Fernando Poe Jr as having been defeated or worse, slain at the end of any of his movies, or his fans would go berserk.

As usual, our streets were empty and there was a significant drop in the number of petty crimes or traffic altercations. Most everyone stayed home to watch the fight - even friends I know who don’t give a hoot about boxing or any sports for that matter. We all know of course that Pacquaio’s fights have long ago ceased to be just about boxing; they have become occasions to avenge or assert national honor.

I woke up yesterday to find everyone in the household assembled in the living room – including teenage nephews who otherwise couldn’t be compelled to stay home even during the most important family occasions. Indeed, if it were only possible to have Pacquaio fight everyday there would so much less problems in this country. I bet even the President of the Republic took a leave from his “busy schedule” to plop himself in front of a television set to watch Pacquaio pummel the daylights out of Shane Mosley.

As usual, the local telecast was delayed. And as usual the local channel that earned the right to broadcast the telecast of the fight milked the occasion so shamelessly that the advertising load seemed ten times longer than the actual fight. To illustrate clearly how heavy the commercial load was, I actually finished this column during the breaks of the fight!

I have ranted about this many times in the past and I will continue to do so until one of the following happens: Our networks grow a conscience, our legislators pass a law making it illegal to continue the brazen commercialism, the regulatory bodies find a way to regulate the practice, or until Filipinos come to their senses and take matters into their hands. We don’t have to put up with it, really. We can change things if we want to. We’re cannot be victims at the mercy of greedy, exploitative networks forever.

The shameless hawking was so blatant that they actually cut the pre-fight preliminaries into tiny bits and pieces. It was something like this: They showed snippets of the pre-fight, then went into a long commercial break, showed Pacquaio in the dugout then showed ads, showed Mosley and then showed another round of ads, then showed Charice Pempengco singing Lupang Hinirang and then another round of ads, then Tyrese Gibson singing the Star-Spangled Banner and then another interminable round of ads, then showed Mosley entering the hall and dished out yet another round of ads, then…. You get the drift.

If they could cut up each of the rounds into three or four snippets each, am sure they would have done so as well.

To be fair to GMA7, the network did not invent this kind of shamelessness. The other networks are just as notorious, and yes, just as shameless. They are able to get away with this kind of abuse because of exclusivity clauses – whoever gets the right to telecast these major events have monopoly, no one else could air the fight on public television not even global or foreign networks. I remember one incident in the past (I think it was a Miss Universe telecast) when the local network made sure a Japanese channel broadcasting the same event on a cable provider was effectively stopped.

As prescribed by international rules, each round of the Pacquaio-Mosley fight ran for two minutes – a countdown timer is conspicuously shown on television precisely to time each round. I tracked how long the advertisements were in between rounds: They were averaging five minutes and 30 seconds! And this did not include the voice-overs that introduced and capped up each round, which comprised of enumeration of the various sponsors of the fight. This also did not include the various product placements that hogged a third of the screen during the fight, the various logos that were placed strategically in various parts of the screen, and the various posters that served as backdrop of the fight, which, as can be expected also featured certain products.

We Filipinos are truly a patient people because I cannot imagine any other reason why we put up with it.

As usual, Pacquiao displayed the very traits that make him truly Filipino. There were the obvious amulets and good luck charms (e.g., he wore a rosary prior to and immediately after the fight). He observed his usual religious traditions such as praying in his own corner prior and after the fight, even making the sign of the cross in between rounds. He entered the hall with “Eye of the Tiger” blaring in the background, with no less than Survivor’s Jimi Jamison performing the song live.

The congressman from Sarangani province wore yellow gloves supposedly as representation of the ultimate fight he wants to wage: Uniting the Filipino people against poverty. I see pundits gathering their thoughts on just exactly how Pacquaio boxing career

I am not sure the message got through in a clear way, but it’s admittedly a nice touch even simply for reasons of aesthetics. It helped soften the brutality of the sport, not that colors alone would do that to the only sport where the goal is to deliberately hurt another person. Marbel bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez tried to speak out against boxing as a sport over the weekend, but his was a voice in the wilderness. It’s difficult to argue against popularity and success.

As to the fight itself, what else is there to say? It seemed lopsided in favor of Pacquiao. Mosley looked confused all throughout the 12 rounds. Mosley actually fell as early as the third round and it became very apparent as the fight progressed that Mosley was clearly just buying time – he was hurting, and hurting badly. It was pretty obvious that Pacquiao was raring for a knockout – in Tagalog, he was “gigil na gigil.” This became even more palpable after the referee made a wrong knockout call against Pacquiao on the 10th round when there was not even a physical contact from Mosley.

This particular fight was at least not as vicious as previous Pacquiao matches. Despite the fact that the two boxers were pummeling each other out, despite the fact that Pacquiao obviously got irked towards the end of the match, it was also obvious that the two had profound respect for each other, even giving each other high fives in between rounds.

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