For several hours yesterday, lawless elements took a break, the military unilaterally observed an informal truce and politicians paused from their endless brawls as Filipinos, in a rare show of unity, rooted for one of the nation’s own.
It seemed for some moments that the nation was in for a big disappointment, as the prospect of a draw loomed in the match between boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez. But in the end the judges, by a split decision, gave the World Boxing Council superfeatherweight crown to Pacquiao.
Several police commands happily reported zero crime rates throughout the match, broadcast live from Las Vegas. For the Filipino, Pacquiao has come to symbolize rare achievement in sports, a field where the nation is sorely lacking in international recognition.
Later this year the Olympic Games will be held in Beijing. The Games are a reminder of what the Philippines has not yet achieved: the highest honor in the world of sports, an Olympic gold medal. Pacquiao’s many feats show what is needed to excel in sports: disciplined development of natural talent, adequate facilities for rigorous training, and sufficient support from both the government and interested parties in the private sector.
Proper training in athletics, which ideally should start at a young age, does not come cheap. Many promising athletes are from poor families, and development of their athletic skills is often set aside because of the demands of day-to-day survival. Often, Filipino athletes who excel in regional games are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which has a special program for personnel with sports potential.
Military discipline no doubt helps in turning these athletes into winners. But budding athletes who are too young for the AFP must look elsewhere for support in developing their skills. The nation’s jubilation over Pacquiao’s latest victory should encourage concerned sectors to provide that kind of support.
The Philippine Star