Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kings Sugar Ray and Manny Pacquiao

Michael Buffer is absolutely right. Manny Pacquiao, the King of the Ring, is back.

Indeed, Pacquiao successfully displayed a boxing tutorial against Brandon Rios via unanimous decision at the Venetian in Macau, China last Sunday, November 24. Along with hundreds of my town mates, I watched the match live at the San Jose Gymnasium courtesy of the Local Government Unit of said municipality headed by Mayor Romulo M. Festin and LBC, the country’s leading money remittance company and cargo and mail forwarder. LBC was once known as another king, “Hari ng Padala”. Coming from back-to-back losses against Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, his team’s split up with longtime trainer Alex Ariza and the devastation brought about by typhoon Yolanda to his people and his wife Jinkee being pregnant, Pacquiao’s victory against Rios is as sweet as sugar. He proved once again that the name Pacquiao still sweetens our cup of coffee that fills our boxing-thirsty and salivating mouths.

A couple of boxers were nicknamed “Sugar”. Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Shane Mosley only borrowed it from the “original” Sugar Ray Robinson AKA Walter Smith, Jr. who was born in Detroit in May 3, 1921. Boxing historians said that in order to beat the minimum age on his maiden fight, Smith borrowed the birth certificate of his friend, Ray Robinson and hit the big time when he defeated Tommy Bell in December of 1946 for the welterweight division in a title fight and not unlike the Pacman, Sugar Ray bring sweetness to social, political and economic bitterness of many countries around the world and World War II’s acidic aftertaste that time.

Ray Robinson acquired this nickname after a journalist for a local newspaper named Jack Case told George Gainford (Robinson's manager) that he had a sweet fighter in Robinson, and his manager replied, "As sweet as sugar". Jack Case obviously remembered this comment, because in his newspaper article the next day, he named Ray as "Sugar Ray Robinson", thus the ring name.

Statistic shows the sourness and sweetness of Sugar Ray Robinson’s career: In 202 professional fights he registered 109 KOs, won 66 on point decisions, had 6 draws, lost 18 via scorecard, knocked out once and had 2 no contest. He died April 12, 1989 at 67 due to Alzheimer's disease and, of all diseases, diabetes!

Robinson’s boxing career was a combination of bitter-sweet-sweet-bitter journey. Not unlike Manny. Sugar Ray lost when he challenged Joey Maxim for the light-heavyweight title and opted to retire in 1952 but after 3 years, he once again climbed the ring and beat the middleweight title from Carl “Bobo” (what a ring name!) Olson. Sugar Ray’s career was a roller coaster ride until he lost the title for good to Paul Pender on January 22, 1960, exactly two years and one day before this sweetheart of yours (?) was born.

But why is boxing called a sweet science? British journalist named Pierce Egan in 1824, while he was covering the sport, referred to boxing as “the sweet science of bruising”.

It was summer of 1947 when Sugar Ray Robinson slugged it out against Jimmy Doyle and Robinson beat him so badly and Doyle collapsed and died. Some days later, at the hearing into the death, the district attorney turned to Ray and asked accusingly, "Couldn't you see he was hurt?" Sugar Ray looked at him resentfully. "Sir," he told him, "it's my business to hurt people." Even today, the statement is true. The business of boxing is still aimed at hurting the opponent. It is the unmatched gruesome business that we all love to watch.

In the post-fight press conference against Rios, Pacquiao said, “You know, I’m not doing that [giving a chance for Rios to deliver on the 12th round] because I’m tired or anything. I’m doing that because boxing is not about killing each other. Boxing is about entertaining people.” Generally Pacman is right but in some fights—like that of Robinson and Doyle—their distinction separates by just a hairline.

If there’s one lesson I learned from Manny Pacquiao when he fought his former sparring mate Rios last Sunday is this: In our struggle for certain social cause, we could be dominant and at the same time civilized as social communicators or advocates. Domination need not be arrogant like what the King of Kings taught us.

When Pacquiao and Rios exchanged punches last Sunday, we, Catholics are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King which is the end of the Liturgical Year.

Our King of the Ring showed the universe that it’s not yet the end of his boxing years….


Friday, November 15, 2013

Occidental Mindoro’s 63rd Founding Anniversary and Service Contract 53

A twin is celebrating their 63rd birthday today. Occidental and Oriental Mindoro were a single province before they were legally separated November 15, 2013 by virtue of Republic Act 505 in 1950. In Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro’s capital town, as I write this piece, festive atmosphere invades the air. It ranges from boxing matches to beauty pageant, from trade fare to street dancing, from variety show to parlor games, from the grand opening parade to the culmination night. One thing does not change. Our leaders are still focused on agriculture and tourism as the main decisive factors of the province’s economic progress and development. The theme of the Arawatan 63 states, “Sama-samang tahakin, matuwid na landas ng agri-turismo pag-ibayuhin, Occidental Mindoro paunlarin”. So, taking cue from the event’s theme, extractive industries like oil and gas exploration and exploitation were NOT a priority in our province’s agenda at least for the next twelve months.

According to researchers, in a Mangyan society, Arawatan spirit is experienced throughout the year in every activity or endeavor. The Mangyan’s livelihood is basically agricultural and Arawatan is employed by the people in their activities. Thus, Arawatan’s spirit is about stewardship of the earth.

Incidentally, congratulations to LGU-Sablayan for grabbing the Best Booth Award and the Street Dancing Contest for Arawatan 2013. Sablayan's street dance and the winning booth depicts the richness of our town’s natural resources, bountiful harvests, our coastal and marine richness and other ecological gems that needs to be protected from dangers posed by destructive development projects, if I may emphasize, like oil and gas exploration and exploitation. I am specifically pertaining to the Service Contract 53 Exploration Period in target municipalities of the whole Mindoro Island covering 724,000 hectares of land and sea. 

My point is this: Leaders in impact areas such as ours should not swallow right away, line-hook-and-sinker, what Pitkin Petroleum (Philippines) Ltd or the consequent laws themselves are offering.  For one, massive displacement of the Mangyans from their livelihood and economic areas is a possibility. How could they practice their customary and traditional slash-and-burn farming if pipe lines and oil/gas tanks are all over their ancestral land and domains?

I was informed that just a few months ago, a meeting happened in Manila and another in Calintaan where representatives from the provincial government and the oil company plus the Mangyan leaders in the province attended. I do not know what exactly happened on that two occasions. You may ask the province’s focal person on Mangyan affairs and concerns on the matter. Nevertheless, its Project Description needs to be thoroughly scrutinized.

Truth to tell, environmental and social impacts of onshore hydrocarbon (oil/gas) exploration and exploitation activities have been extensively documented all over the globe and which we all need to know. For netizens, it would be helpful if we study via net, for instance, oil and gas cases in the tropical forests of the Amazon.  

I do not wish to discuss here the detailed and specific environmental and social impacts of oil and gas exploration and exploitation. That I’ll save for the forthcoming information and education campaign that I will be attending in the future in both in my private and public capacities as a social advocate or on my next blog entries for sure. 

Meanwhile, a happy anniversary to all and congratulations to the people from Sablayan's tourism office and the Sablayan National Comprehensive Highschool (SABNACOHIS) for a job well done including the event organizers from the PGO.

But still I am into opinion that the spirit of Arawatan and the objective of Pitkin did not come from the same life-giving breath being the former is evidently sacred than that of the latter… 


(Photo: Sablayan Herald)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beatles and Imelda

Exactly 50 years ago today when the Beatles performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre attended by Queen Elizabeth of England and Princess Margaret including Lord Snowdon and they gazed fondly among the crowd. According to some accounts, the arrival of the four charming guys from Liverpool drew more attention than the arrival of the Royal Family that evening.

On that same year, the Beatles released their debut album called “Please, Please Me” and it became an instant hit around the globe. The Fabulous 4 instantly became a phenomenon. Teenage girls screamed like crazy and the aired was filled with their music like “She Loves You,” “Till There Was You,” “From Me to You” and other hits. Songs that are also played by The Harmonizers in San Jose’s music lounges in the 70s like Balalaika and You & I.

It was November 4, 1963 when John Lennon, the chief Beatle, delivered the most intriguing and mischievous rant in pop-culture history: “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And for the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry…” John made this comment before playing “Twist and Shout”, as I have said, with the Queen and the Princess among the audience.

Three years later, John, Paul, George and Ringo visited the Philippines and performed at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila together with Pilita Corrales and Reycard Duet as front act performers, among others. The legendary quartet stayed in the country from July 3-5, 1966 for a two-day concert proper.

When the Beatles visited the Philippines, their first and only visit in the country, they unintentionally turned down a breakfast reception offered by Imelda Marcos at Malacanan Palace. Brian Epstein, the manager, politely declined on behalf of the Beatles as it had never been the group's policy to accept such invitations from government officials and first families, but the group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer.

After the snub was broadcast on Philippine television and radio and everywhere, all of the security measures disappeared. The police and security officers were gone and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, road manager Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and the band members were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off and the former was forced to give the tax authorities £6,800 worth of Philippine peso notes from the shows, and had to sign the tax bond verifying the exchange before being allowed back on the plane, according to some Beatles’ historian.

In a nutshell, George Harrison described what happened in an interview after the tour, “They took us away and drove us down to Manila harbor, put us on a boat, took us out to a motor yacht and put us in this room. It was really humid, Mosquito City, and we were all sweating and frightened. For the first time ever in our Beatle existence, we were cut off from Neil, Mal and Brian Epstein. There was not one of them around and, not only that, but we had a whole row of cops with guns lining the deck around this cabin that we were in. We were really gloomy, very brought down by the whole thing. We wished we hadn't come. We should have missed it out. As soon as we got there, it was bad news.” They were not provided with hotel accommodations either.

Entertainment authorities believe that the Beatles were invited to Manila not to just play music to its fans. The whole thing was a savvy political setup for the Beatles to implicitly endorse the Marcos government. The party hosted by Mrs. Marcos was a cleaver photo-op where the Beatles will be seen having lively chat with Madam Marcos, ambassadors, senators and other Marcos-elected cronies. The 300 specially invited children being entertained by the Beatles would be the heart-softening section of the whole event. Local and international press would surely cover the event. Images showing the Beatles sharing a tea with Mrs. Marcos and shaking hands with government officials would project an image to the world that the Beatles endorses the dictatorship of Marcos. According to a blog posted last January 23, 2012 that can be accessed HERE.

Earlier this week, Mrs. Marcos, 84 and now a congresswoman, was again in the news. She was admitted to the hospital after she returned to Manila from Ilocos Norte, reportedly due to fatigue and her unstable blood sugar level. No matter what, Imelda, like that shameful and horrible Beatles’ stay in Manila, is part of our dark days in history. Both have taught us a lesson or two, undeniably.

The former first lady is widely criticized for her extravagant lifestyle, amassing a massive collection of shoes and spending heavily on jewelry, even as most Filipinos remained trapped in poverty. Not unlike Janet Napoles of today and her cahoots in the Senate.

But when the Marcos government was toppled in 1986, analogical to that famous remark of John Lennon exactly half a decade ago today in England, the impoverished Filipino clapped their hands while the elite just rattled their jewelry.

Or they rattled us, the poor, with their expensive jewelry and them, those who just rattled their jewelries after EDSA, are our new and apparently beat-less tyrants….

(Photo: FlickRiver)