Monday, September 25, 2006

A myth is born

HOW are heroes made?

Before Pacquiao nearly sent Morales crawling back to where he came from, the rather obvious answer to that question would have been: do something heroic.

This answer is unacceptable not only because it violates my grade 1 language teacher’s rule: don’t define by restating.

But that is something you and I know even long before our warrior ripped out Morales’ manhood and barely left a ruined shell for his spirit to come home to.

A hero was created long before we stamped and roared our approval after Sunday lunch.

Yet, at the second, sixth and final round, what we were making were not the noises announcing a hero’s birthing but the climaxing of vengeful fervor, national pride and superstitious wonder.

We won! For once, the gods heard our prayers, kissed our bets, and wiped the grime from faces perennially stuck in the gutter. We won!

Heroic things may be done in the ring. But the myths creating heroes are done outside the arena, away from battles, in the ruts we creep back to and run around all day long.

On Monday, I walked three blocks, took a ride connecting downtown to uptown, walked another four or five blocks before I could find a sidewalk stand with all the national and local broadsheets and tabloids I am accustomed to scanning on midmornings. What makes the Cebuano, legendary tihik (tightwad), part with his pesos?

Only a hero.

In the afternoon, my jeepney drove past the eateries hugging the M. Velez elbow near the Provincial Capitol. An office worker had discarded his office polo and, in undershirt, was rhythmically pounding a strip of rubber wrapped like a tourniquet on a wooden post.

My travel companion said: “uy, Pacquiao.”

That laconic remark came from a prettysomething expected to be more familiar with passion fruit lip moisturizers rather than the 171 power blows that hammered respect into Mexico’s champion.

What pushed this coed to notice that, after The Knockout, Morales’ smacker and Pacquiao’s red-on-white shoes were nearly the same pulpy shade, if not were at the same level?

Only a people’s champ could have triggered such a tectonic shifting of consciousness.

I know many tales, a number fewer perhaps than what you have. Heard of the fellow in Bato, Samboan who walked out of his neighbor’s sala when he received the text joke that Morales knocked out Pacquiao? The man was in tears, saying he could not stay to “watch” his hero defeated.

A crying macho is a lesser wonder in these islands than a grown-up having visions from listening to the Las Vegas match covered by radio.

Heroes make the impossible possible. My fourth grade social studies teacher lectured that the Church and the state must keep their affairs separate. This was possible, of course, circa B.P. (Before Pacquiao).

The Man known for a prodigious appetite for high-stakes cockfighting had “before” and “after” accounts of his latest bout launched from a thousand pulpits last Sunday.

When Life magazine featured Imelda Marcos with her diamond-encrusted rosary in the ‘80s, she was pilloried.

Pacquiao wore a rosary in gold and prayed before leaving his corner in the ring. The homily, in analyzing Manny’s ringside religiosity, has joined the mainstream of sports commentary.

Who is the only figure in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s inner circle that was not booed down for talking about national reconciliation?

The champ has wagered his famously swollen knuckles in daily bouts until we fulfill his wish for the country: “magkaintindihan tayo (we end all our differences).”

That he can see peace gushing from torn skin and ligaments is the stuff from which legends are born.

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