On Pacquiao and Nationalism

It takes more than a Pacquiao or even a weekly flag-raising or flag-lowering ceremony to make Filipinos truly nationalistic and patriotic.

Last July 15, 2018, Filipinos from almost all walks of life took a break from their morning activities to watch the "return fight" of now 39 year-old Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, a World Boxing Association (WBA) regular welterweight title match against 35 year-old Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Pacquiao knocked Matthysse out in the seventh round, enabling him to win the WBA title and re-establish himself after a string of losses during the past years as the boxing hero that he is known to be prior to venturing into the political arena. In front of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a jubilant Pacquiao thanked the crowd, the country's political leadership and God for his achievement while the crowd cheered for him and President Duterte.

Just like in the past, a Pacquiao boxing match being aired over television and radio, streamed over the Internet, and shown at cinemas can unite a bitterly divided Filipino nation even only for a few hours. Most of our countrymen were jubilant, celebrating what was for them a great national moment and the return of a boxer, who placed Filipino boxers and the Philippines itself on the world stage. It was a time when the fine line separating nationalistic pride from the personal achievement of a boxer got blurred, but for a good reason since it was feel good moment for everyone.

Unfortunately, there were those who openly wanted Pacquiao to be defeated badly by Matthysse, most of whom are social justice warriors from Ateneo de Manila or the University of the Philippines who hated him for both being an ardent supporter of President Duterte and having opinions that go against liberal ideas. One of them, a borderline seditionist, openly gay former student council officer from UP Diliman who supported Reaffirmist and Rejectionist Maoist causes, and supported the ouster of President Duterte by all means possible, hoped that Matthysse would defeat Pacquiao, whom he called with a derogatory remark. The most promiment anti-Duterte and anti-Pacquiao who wanted Pacquiao to lose happened to be an unsuccessful musician who has "re-branded" himself as "broadcast journalist," posting on social media that the Philippines would rather watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals match between France and Croatia than a Pacquiao match.

But then, we should give credit where credit is due. Pacquiao may have achieved things as boxer entirely for himself, but he is actually responsible for stirring nationalistic pride among our countrymen, who, in their daily life, does not seem to really care about nationalism and even the Philippines itself. Some may not like his politics and his religious views, or even him being a supporter of President Duterte, whom social justice warriors, Maoists and elitists would brand as a "fascist tyrant," but it is only right to give him credit for both his achievements as a boxer and for uniting a divided nation even for a few hours.

However, it takes more than a Pacquiao or even a weekly flag-raising or flag-lowering ceremony to make Filipinos truly nationalistic and patriotic. Nationalism and patriotism should become a way of life for our countrymen, beginning with changing the individual Filipino's outlook on things- that he should have a sense of regard towards others and the country, that he should exercise discipline and respect the laws of the land, that he needs to improve and assert himself for him to become a more effective member of the Philippine nation, etc. Genuine Filipino nationalism should become an integral part of Filipino culture and mindset, not just something being stirred by the achievement of one person from time to time or doing something routine that may eventually not be taken seriously.

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About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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