Everyone wants a chunk of Manny Pacquiao. The minute the WBC Super Featherweight Champion landed on Philippine soil he was immediately surrounded by politicians, government officials, the media and just plain folks who wanted to bask in the triumphant aura of the homecoming warrior dubbed as the Pambansang Kamao (the National Fist). Imagine being the Fist of the Nation. This is a heavy burden for even for a seasoned slugger such as Pacquiao.
No wonder he looked pale and harried, per radio reports. The mob followed him around like a school of friendly piranha. To be sure, even before boarding the plane at LAX, he was already being crowded by a motley crew of hangers-on and various other colorful characters, famous and obscure. Gov. Chavit Singson was with him in the ring after the fight and on the plane back to Manila. Manila Mayor Lito Atienza was at the head of the welcoming party. Congressman Miles Roces was the designated driver. President Arroyo was waiting like an eager schoolgirl in Malacanang. And so on.
A visibly tired Pacquiao had to beg off from belting out his signature song, letting down the Palace throng. He was feeling feverish and his throat was sore. It had been a long flight and promised to be an even longer day. And he had yet to see his new-born daughter.
On t.v., everyone looked hungry enough to bite off a piece of Manny. The only exceptions were his wife, Jinky and his trainer, Freddy Roach. In fact, Roach looked to be thoroughly enjoying the whole unfolding drama, not only because he stands to earn a bundle, but also because he’d seen it all before and could predict the likely ending. He also likes his job and seems to be genuinely concerned about Manny.
Of course, Manny Pacquiao the brand is a saleable commodity. He has endorsed, and continues to pitch, everything from hamburgers to liquor to videoke equipment. But others may have a darker, more sinister agenda than just selling underwear.
Its common knowledge that Manny has been conned by unscrupulous managers and duped into losing millions in rigged pool games and cockfights. But now they not only want his money, they want his soul. Already there’s talk of him running for public office, under the mentorship of this or that politico.
Prayers are therefore in order for Manny Pacquiao. A prayer of thanks from a grateful nation in desperate need of a hero. And a prayer to save him from the circling sharks.