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Peks man (People's Journal editorial 26 January 2006)

TO KEEP his ward focused for an all-out battle with the world’s fifth-ranked best pound-for-pound fighter, trainer Freddie Roach shooed away hangers-on, kibbitzers, fence-sitters, and fans from the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, California. Roach was stacking up fresh artillery and ammunition for Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.

Pacquiao had to be whipped in meanest fighting form— and pesky fans often swarm all over their idol. Roach had had enough of such lavish adoration for his top prize fighter. Say, none of those fans would take an ‘El Terrible’ punch for Pacquiao who can be generous with authographs and instant grins for photo sessions with an unending banana queue of fans. Tending to fans can take time, rob a fighter’s precious time that can be spent in earnest preparation for a slambang slug-out.

Pacman delivered. It took 10 rounds to finish off a Mexican legend. The nasty job left Pacman’s fists swollen, his face a bit rearranged in some places, his torso somewhat banged up. He gets a fat purse to be shared equitably between him, Roach and other Team Pacquiao members—they did their share in that winning job-- and the taxman.

For 10 brutal rounds, national unity reigned throughout the Philippines.

For 10 fiery rounds that saw a swap of bombs between Pacman and El Terrible, we had achieved national unity— or maybe something like that.

It’s probably a unity of couch potatoes, lounge camotes—isama pati mga ulalo at bulalo. We watched like wound-up watches.

So we watched an epic show of sweet science. After such show, more than money changed hands. One traysikad driver who wagered his means of livelihood for Morales walked away a sad man sans traysikad. A gaggle of security guards over at Ortigas Center lost P500 each to a bunch of yuppies who called their bets. There must be a missus who bet his husband’s matrimonial rations for a week—and lost that to a bading fan of Pacman’s.

Roach can’t shoo the fans this time as his ward comes home as revered idol.

The fans will be all over him not unlike the devotees of that sacred Quiapo relic, wiped throughout with hundreds of thousands of hankies, each hankie turning up as an agimat of sorts that can heal ailments, make a fond wish come true or provide one’s heart’s desire.

Politicos will piggyback on Pacman’s triumph, cite him as springboard for the nation’s unity—or something like that.

Peks man.

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