Archive Page 2


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


A china cabinet for Federer’s win

federer-reflectFor the love of this guy (Photo from

If Roger Federer continues with these five-set Grand Slam matches, he will make me poorer than I already am and my mother the happiest of all.

Down two sets to love in the fourth-round match against Thomas Berdych, RF was hammering on my nerves in the third set. On the other hand, the great champion didn’t look a bit flustered. If RF believed he could win the next three sets, so could I. He took the third (Thank God!) and the fourth (Yes!).

On the fifth set, I told my mom that I would buy her a new china cabinet if RF won this match. She had doubts of this coming true because the last time she checked on the scores, RF had lost the first two sets. She no longer expected RF to win.

Oh, mom, you of poor faith.

As RF led 5-2 on the fifth set, I told my mom to get dressed. We were buying the china cabinet in 30 minutes. She couldn’t have been happier for Federer.

If RF wins the Australian Open, I will have a full lechon served at dinner. I hope my mom doesn’t ask for a new kitchen. For now, she’s preoccupied with arranging plates and glasses in the china cabinet. Maybe when she’s not looking, I might just put RF’s picture frame inside it.


Heart of the matter

heart1My heart bled as I interspersed going over 10 essays with listening to high school students talk about the Filipina and cardiovascular disease. I looked at the kids, so earnest in their oration that they could persuade the adults in the room to exercise and eat healthy. I looked at the adults and realized that I was probably among the few in need of exercise and proper diet.

So here I was, sitting as a judge of the essay writing category in the regional elimination of the literary, oratorical and on-the-spot painting competition that focused on the theme “Mabuhay Ka! Pusong Pinay!” and getting bombarded by calls for a healthy lifestyle.

After the fifth essay, I got the sinking feeling that all this was for my benefit. I tucked in my stomach. I refused to take the snacks offered. I considered walking back to the office, which would be about a kilometer away. Nah, too dusty. I called back the waiter and asked for some siomai because I was now really hungry.

My co-judges were a doctor and an executive of the pharmaceutical company that sponsored the contest. My choices differed from theirs. I gave weight to thought construction, substance and grammar. I was disheartened to see the final results not going for the two essays that were really good pieces of writing. My co-judges preferred the ones about CVD prevention, which undoubtedly covers exercise and healthy diet, which I’ve never taken to heart.

I take care of my heart by not watching horror movies, not reading the book “Jude, The Obscure” because the story is horribly depressing, not sweating the small stuff, and not wearing tight bras. I do mind what I eat. I check my food for chili pepper, but other than this, I eat to my heart’s content.

So, to those kids, may they practice what they orate and write about when they reach adulthood.


Shoot me mute

Shooting is a precision and concentration sport. I’m definite I will not be good at it even if, on my attempt at shooting last weekend, my first bullet hit the target on its head and the succeeding ones on the alpha of the cardboard target.

mps-hjtsPoor cardboard target

It’s not difficult to hit a non-moving cardboard five or 10 meters away. What is challenging is not to let out a scream at the sound of the firearm going off. The scream might yet drive the other people in the firing range to shoot me until I become mute in my after-life.

I fired a Glock 9mm and a carbine and found that I liked the carbine better. I had alpha hits using it than I did using the 9mm. My grip on the rifle was better than that on the pistol, and it was not anything like the Garand I used to carry during citizens’ army training (CAT) in high school.

The Garand was deadly but only if you were beaten with it on the head because it was so heavy, the operating rod did not operate and there were no bullets. Lugging a Garand in my CAT fatigues, I had wondered if it was quicker to kill an enemy by stabbing him or shouting in his ear than by shooting him with a rifle that only the Hukbalahap knew how to fire, if it did at all. The Garand had never been the firearm the International Olympics Committee had in mind for the shooting competitions.

I’m not keen on taking up shooting as a sport. Probably in my next life when I could be born mute.


In some parts of Loon

In parts of Loon, a town in Bohol, there is a different way of playing chess and basketball. The rules of the sports are the same but the skills required to play them are somewhat unorthodox.

Take chess. Ordinarily, you sit across your opponent and use your arms and fingers to move the pieces.

But in Cabilao Island, a prime diving destination in Loon, you need to use your entire body to play chess. The wooden chess pieces are huge and conclusively heavy. You lift a pawn with both hands. You straddle the horse to move it. You bend and lift or you bend and push. It’s like moving furniture.

cabilao-1The chess set in Polaris Resort, Cabilao Island

By the time you have made your third move, you have sweated a bucket. You pray your opponent is not a sore loser and hits you with the rook. If it’s any comfort, he can’t throw you the chessboard. The photo above explains why.

In Mocpoc Sur, playing basketball requires consideration of plants. For reasons that defy sports and landscaping logic, seedlings are being planted in the middle of the basketball court.

cabilao-3Hedged plants in the middle of a basketball court in Mocpoc Sur

The basketball rings have not been removed, giving the impression that it remains a basketball court.

In remote barrios like Mocpoc Sur, there is no open space more ubiquitous than a basketball court. During the barrio fiesta, the basketball court is converted into a dance court.

The plants are hedged in the middle of the basketball court in Mocpoc Sur. The players will need to upgrade their dribbling and passing skills to include plant evasion. It will be a skill specific to the basketbolistas of Mocpoc Sur. Kobe will die of envy.

Because in parts of Loon, time is enjoyed by doing nothing and anything. I love Loon. I really do.

(Photos by Friar Tuck)

April 2018
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