Manny Pacquiao: An inspiration to Filipino athletes
Manny Pacquiao was born in a time of poverty in a land gripped with conflict.
Little did anyone know the same Pacquiao would grow up to become arguably the greatest Filipino athlete ever.
“Manny is not only a Filipino phenomenon, he’s a world Phenomenon, he’s inspired the whole world,” the legendary PBA coach Tim Cone said of the boxing champion.
Pacquiao’s story has given athletes and fans all over the world the inspiration to pull off the impossible, like he did in setting records in the ring.
“He came from GenSan [General Santos City], getting to great heights he did, it just gives you a sense of ‘you can do anything,’” Cone said. “If they really put their mind to it, train hard, work hard. He was an inspiration not only to all Filipinos but to the world, and we haven’t seen anybody since Muhammad Ali and that makes him incredibly special.”
Pacquiao will not only be remembered as a Filipino icon, but also a global figure.
“Manny is one of the most recognizable athletes in the whole world,” PBA legend Jimmy Alapag said. “He’s an inspiration to all of us, every Filipino athlete in the world.”
Coming from one of the poorest communities in the Philippines, the young Pacquiao had to embark on odd jobs just to make ends meet and earning less than a hundred pesos selling cheap donuts wasn’t enough to give him a complete meal.
These rags to riches stories are not uncommon in sports but it was Pacquiao’s God-given talent, determination and iconic charisma thad has brought him to his stature.
Arellano University star Jio Jalalon and National University stalwart Jaja Santiago know a thing or two about what Pacquiao had been through.
“Galing sa hirap si Manny tulad ko, tapos ako na atleta din na gumagawa ng pangalan para sa family, na inspire ako sa sobrang sipag at tiyaga, matulungin pa at sobrang bait,” Jalalon said.
“Sa mga pinagdaanan niya, nakayanan niya pa ring maging successful, naging motivation niya past niya,” Santiago said. “Nagreflect din ako dun sa mga nangyari sa kanya galing sa hirap. Nakapaglaro akong maayos kasi motivation ko sila at naging matapang at matatag sa lahat ng bagay.”
Just like Pacquiao, Marc Pingris had to peddle goods during his younger days and all that hardship has made him the physical embodiment of Gilas Pilipinas’ “Puso (heart)” slogan just as the Pacman became the idol of Filipino heart.
“[Na-inspire ako sa] hard work niya at kung paano mag train at disiplina sa sarili. Number two about kay Lord, marami siyang natutulungan na kabataan di lang sa pera, dahil din sa pananalita niya at dahil kay Lord, yun malaking bagay yun,” Pingris said.
Pacquiao began his professional career as an underaged fighter in Malabon but relentless passion to get his family out of poverty led him to Las Vegas and the scrawny flyweight raged through the boxing world like an uncontrollable supernova and became the sport’s only eight-division world champion.
An insatiable hunger to become the best is the fuel of any sportsman and Pacquiao is no different as he went from an eccentric brawler to become the master of the Beautiful Sport.
And just like Pacquiao, rivals Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo and Mika Reyes of De La Salle started as mere supporting casts of their teams before they were thrust as their squad’s leaders and became among the recognizable faces in volleyball.
“Na-inspire ako ni Manny sa hindi pagtigil na pagtiyaga at matuto para makamit goal ko,” Reyes said.
“I can still remember when I was young I can’t hit the ball, serve over the net,” Valdez said. “Si Manny pinakita niya talaga if determinado ka talaga, andun puso at passion sa ginagawa mo, you can do whatever you want. Sabi nga niya ‘do what they say you can’t.’”
Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.