Archive for February, 2009


The doctor is late

pacquiao-honoris-causaDr. Manny Pacquiao (with plaque) / Photo by Amper

When Manny Pacquiao delivered his prepared speech after being conferred Doctor in Humanities honoris causa, his heart was beating so fast that it could have been a speed bag he hits at practise.

He was nervous, he told a jampacked ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel at about 7 o’clock tonight.

Indeed he was because he mispronounced the name of the school that conferred on him the doctorate. He had to be corrected that it was “Southwestern University,” not “Southern Western University.” As he is wont to add “s” to words English, he referred to himself as “doctors.” For words unfamiliar to him, “kinetics” became “kinestetics” but he got “humanities” right.

Lest we forget, a boxer doesn’t declaim in the ring. And so despite his mispronunciations, Pacquiao was widely applauded at his conferment.

He was widely applauded by a crowd that had waited for three hours for him to arrive at the ceremony that was scheduled at 4:30 p.m. He came in late and apologized for his tardiness, which he attributed to a delayed flight from Manila. At about 7 p.m., a choral rendition of his signature song, “Para Sa Iyo Ang Laban Na To” began the ceremony.

The conferment rite was exclusive to Pacquiao. That he arrived very late for it doesn’t befit a man SWU looks up to as one who has “captured excellence and exemplary performance in what he does.” Pacquiao could have been advised to come on time and give importance to the event. He could have arranged for a morning flight.

The humanitarianism he showed for the victims of typhoon Frank in July 2008 earned him the honorary doctorate in humanities, SWU president Eldigardio Gonzales said. SWU originally wanted to confer on him a doctorate in human kinetics for espousing the value of physical fitness but the Commission on Education (Ched) wouldn’t allow it.

Just as well because Pacquiao would have called himself  “doctors of human kinestetics.”

So in his speech, prepared and brief, he said with a note of nervousness in his voice, “You cannot measure how smart a person is by how many books he reads. You can measure how smart a person is through his good nature, his love for the country, his love for his family and most importantly, his faith in God.”

For that, Dr. Manny Pacquiao heard a thunder of applause from SWU students, faculty and officers he had kept waiting for almost three hours.

(Many thanks to Beth B.)


The Education of Manny Pacquiao

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, he gets privileges and honors that no ordinary Filipino can ever hope to get without a sweat.

Take the case of his education.

At 16, when he should have been in a classroom doodling, Pacquiao was in a boxing ring punching a man in the face. He had dropped out of school and found money and glory in boxing. As his fame spread overseas and his wealth expanded, he realized that to get full respect, he would need to have an education. He would distinguish himself from other top boxers. He would get a college degree.

Pacquiao would get more than a college degree.

He hurdled high school by getting an accreditation from the Department of Education for its Alternative Learning System. The ALS, whose tests cover multiple choice and composition writing, allows the passer to enrol in a college course. In 2007, at age 29 and after more than 10 years of being out of school, Pacquiao got his high school diploma.

He had jocosely said he would enrol in Ateneo, a university known for its academic excellence but which the Philippine Idol is hardly known for.  In the end, he settled for Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City, where he lives when he is in the country and where he is considered a living patron. He’s taking up business administration, a course that he says will prepare him “to manage my finances myself.”

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, he has a special arrangement with the school that allows him one-on-one lessons with his teachers. There has been no report yet that he has flirted with one or two of his female teachers, maybe because none of them comes close to looking like the movie starlet Ara Mina.

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, his education is unorthodox like his punches. He will get a doctorate ahead of a baccalaureate.

mps-pacmanOn Feb. 18, the Cebu-based Southwestern University (SWU) will confer honoris causa a doctorate of human kinetics on Emmanuel Pacquiao for his achievement in the field of boxing.

Some people are green with envy, especially those who have been seriously working on getting a doctorate on human kinetics the orthodox way.

Some people are appalled, especially those in the academe who think that the conferment is irregular and “cheapens the degree.”

Sketch by Josua Cabrera

Going by what the Commission on Higher Education (Ched)  allows, honorary doctorates extend only to law, humanities, music, pedagogy and science. Human kinetics–the study of sports, fitness and health–is not in the list. But SWU said it has sought an exemption from Ched, explaining to the commission that Pacquiao’s achievements are unequalled by any Asian and that he deserves the honor.

It seems that Ched did not grant the exemption because as published in newspaper ads on Feb. 17, SWU will confer on Pacquiao an honorary doctorate in humanities instead of human kinetics.

Since SWU had already announced the honorary conferment, it could no longer retract its announcement. The university had to save itself and Pacquiao from embarrassment and ridicule. It settled for a doctorate in humanities,  the branch of knowledge that allows liberal interpretation of things not covered by natural science and which the school offers.

What has Pacquiao contributed to literature and philosophy that he would deserve such conferment? Maybe, just maybe, Pacquiao had uttered something like, “What you feel is not my punch but the essence of my punch” and that blew his listeners away. Still another maybe, Pacquiao’s column, which many believe is ghost-written at times, could have swayed the vote in favor of humanities, not pedagogy.

Such is the education of Manny Pacquiao, who missed out on being called “Your Honor” when he lost his congressional bid in 2007 yet will soon find “Honorary Doctor” appended to his name.


A bargain

My butt hurt, my head spun and my muscles tightened as I watched the Federer-Nadal final of the Australian Open.

I was quiet the entire four-hour-plus match that my dad, who watched it with me, had to turn around to see if I had not snapped and hanged myself. Like in previous Federer-Nadal Grand Slam matches, I zoned out, barely speaking to anyone.

The only sounds that came from where I sat, which was on the staircase, were clicks from my mobile phone. Text from friends, many of them pro-Nadal and some pro-Federer, came aplenty. Our text exchanges were mostly single-word expressions of frustration, triumph, thrill and religiosity. It took plenty of restraint on my part not to hurl my phone at the TV set when Nadal won.

The staircase is not the most comfortable seat in a Federer-Nadal match. I had thought that if I didn’t sit close to the TV, I would be less into the match than the two players were and Federer would rack up more sets than Nadal. I was wrong.

On the fifth set when RF lost his serve and was committing errors, I scrambled for a bargain with the tennis deities: Please, please, I’ll sit on a chair of nails, just have RF win the match.

I guess the tennis gods wanted a better bargain, say, that I eat fire and walk on live charcoal too and since I’m at it, lift an elephant’s leg.

The match came at 5 p.m. Philippine time and ran for more than four hours. Because I was so into it, I lost the appetite for dinner. I appreciate my mom’s indulgence in this crazy thing I have for Federer. She cooked me my favorite, fried danggit, but I couldn’t eat. I was drinking lots of water during the entire match that by the end of the awarding ceremony when Roger broke drown, the four-gallon jug was now half-empty.

federer-ao09I wanted RF to win for two reasons: one, that he avenged his loss to Nadal at Wimbledon 2008, and two, that he just beat Nadal. Last night, Federer tore my heart out. So did Nadal.

That RF was chasing his 14th Grand Slam at AO 2009 barely mattered to me. I know he will have it soon. I have faith in my champion.

I hope this makes a better bargain with the tennis deities when RF plays his next Grand Slam final: I’ll extract the fangs of the real Dracula.

This sight hurt more than anything. (Photo from

February 2009
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