The Day the Philippines Stood Still…

Would be the day, any day, when Filipino boxing champion and national hero Manny Pacquiao fights. Most of my (male) co-workers and acquaintances here had circled the date and tensely counted down the days to Pacquiao’s most recent fight (and win) against Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009, which was broadcast in the Philippines on November 15, 2009. A colleague told me that all activity in the Philippines comes to a grinding halt when Pacquiao fights – traffic and even crime becomes nonexistent on match days because everyone’s watching the boxing. The following day his claim was bolstered by stories in jubilant newspaper reports celebrating the outcome of the match. I read an anecdote in one of the articles about how, even though a father had just lost his children in a fire, he was glad to watch Pacquiao win because it took his mind off of his loss. There were other similar stories from victims of recent hurricanes that struck the northern region of the Philippines, about how watching their hero’s fight really raised their spirits despite all the recent destruction that they had experienced.

I don’t follow boxing at all and had never heard of Manny Pacquiao before arriving in the Philippines, much to my colleagues’ disappointment. However, I’m thankful that Pacquiao won his seventh world championship, even though I ended up missing the big match because of a miserable cold that struck me two days before. The national mood probably would’ve been black with the deepest despair if the Pacman had lost!

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