The husband, the dun, and I were strolling around the new shops at Santa Monica Place two weekends ago, and the new Nike store had four displays full of the sun of my parents' flag. Right in the entrance, on a platform closed off by ropes, was a mannequin wearing his robe, his shorts, and boxing boots with the Filipino flag. And the storefront was emblazoned with Manny Pacquiao, the largest cardboard cutout of a Filipino I had ever seen.
Did I ever think this day would come?
Listen, I'm not really a fan of boxing, so I won't pretend I know anything about his athleticism. What I know is that Pac-Man has a lot of titles in a lot of weight classes and has beat up a lot of people.
All of that is well and good, and I acknowledge I wouldn't even be talking about him today if not for those important facts, but I am far more interested in how Pacquiao has become a demigod amongst us Filipinos.
We all know who he is and we all watch his fights, whether or not we gave a crap about boxing before he came along. We're no doubt proud because he's a great fighter and he seems to be a genuinely good guy, and more than that, he's actually interested in serving the people of the Philippines. But we're also proud that to have kababayan on the world stage. One who is important and well-known for a pretty badass sport, at that.
He is written about like a mythical creature. Some respected sports writers are placing him among greatest fighters of all time. He's gotten other sports writers to care just a little bit about Filipino politics. President Obama opened for him on 60 Minutes. I've even heard his name mentioned in at least two rap songs in the past year or so ("Thank You" by Jay-Z and Fat Joe's "(Ha Ha) Slow Down").
And still, at the core, he seems to be one of us -- an adorably corny guy who loves to sing karaoke.