It has been six days since Pacman’s stunning loss against his greatest foe–Juan Manuel Marquez. Like everyone else, I felt bad knowing JuanMa sent him to snooze land with a devastating right hook — a punch, he alleged, he never saw coming.
 I didn’t get to watch the fight last December 8 as it was a Sunday and it coincided with our church service. Pastor Jay, in fact, commented that he would be competing with the Pac. Much as I am a pac fan, I knew I had to attend first to my soul, and as usual, the ever eloquent JJ did not disappoint. (His sermon, “Are you finishing the race? Or is the race finishing you?” was as powerful as it was emotionally charged. Thanks to his anecdotes and experiences with his mother’s faith. For over an hour, I was hooked to his preaching that whatever excitement I felt for the PacMarq fight just vanished into thin air.

 

 Then, the news…

 

 I was with the fam at Festival Mall doing our post-lunch window shopping when out of the blue I texted my older bro, a boxing aficionado, how the pac was doing. Of course, I was expecting a positive response. What I got jolted me. I had to blink twice when I received the sad news just to be sure I was reading it right. “Daog. Knockout sa 6th round.” (He lost. Got knocked outin the 6th round.) I thought he was kidding. But when we passed by a crowd of men straining their necks inside a computer shop, with their heads shaking and worries plastered on their faces, my fear was confirmed: Our guy lost.

 What a bitter pill to swallow.

 For the next few days, I scoured the info highway reading articles about the superfight that momentarily transported our national treasure from the MGM arena to the starspangled skies while his body lay motionless in the canvass. “Anong nangyari? Tapos na?” (What happened? Is it over?) was all he could utter, after coming back to his senses. It was a sight no Filipino wanted to witness but did. Amidst the thunderous cheers of a Mexican-dominated audience, our hero, our pride, lay fallen, knocked cold, unconscious… (No, I won’t turn OA, and rattle “Oh, captain, my captain”). But hey, he did manage to get up after a few agonizing minutes, though looking dazed and shaken. Hard blow it was. The seemingly “unknockoutable” just dropped in an instant, like a mighty coco tree felled by ferocious Pablo somewhere in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

 

 Rants came in succession.

 

 “Change in religion, blamed for Stunning Loss.”
“Mommy D blames pastors for son’s defeat.”
“Absent from a catholic mass. Rosary abandoned. Result: A knockout”
“Marquez stepped on Manny’s toes! He was caught off balance and got punched.”
“There’s just too much on his plate. He lacked the focus he once had.”

 

Manny, however, only has these to say:

 

     “I have no excuses. That’s boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
     “I’m fine. I will just rest for a few months, then I will come back.”

 

The guy who has eaten humble pie for most of his life, has an admirable disposition that could put most of us to shame. Why do we make excuses for him, when he has faced what could be the most devastating loss in his career, with grace and open mind? Have we forgotten? Manny is no stranger to trials. His meteoric rise to boxing fame was spurred by his boyhood ambition to rise above the abject poverty he was born to in a fatherless home. He started faced down, there inside an obscure and struggling bakery in Gen San. He would lift racks and racks of pandesal, run errands on foot, sometimes throwing punches with his sun-baked fists against an imaginary foe. Before dusk would settle, he would be seen wiping beads of perspiration from his nape with his Good Morning towel, all the while thinking of ways to overcome life’s hardships. Thus, having known what nothing means, it would come us no suprise that he would accept this latest defeat, albeit painful, as graciously as he did.

 

 

Manny must have taken his cue from Job — the Old Testament character whose miseries had never been and probably would never be equalled by anyone who came after him. When told of the series of misfortune that befell him, Job could only mutter:

“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad? (Job 2:10)
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may his name be praised.” (Job 1:20)

Manny, keep your shaken chin up. One hard punch does not define your destiny nor consign to oblivion the years of glory you brought to our tiny nation. Remember, you are and will always be our man. When our spirits ebbed from the humdrum of the daily grind and the cruel onslaught of Mother Nature, you would bring us a whiff of fresh air, joy and excitement with your many victories.

 

Remember also, the creator of all things–the light of the world and the God who became flesh, was momentarily knocked out too and faced darkness.He appeared beaten and his enemies gloated, but the tomb could not hold him for more than three days. Rose again, he did— triumphant, glorious. You too, with the entire nation behind you, will rise again, just as you said.

 

 No matter what, come hell or high water, through victories and losses, we will always root for you and wish you the best. You are truly an inspiration. Always will be.