Manny Pacquiao Has Become the Senator We Need Him to Be
Manny Pacquiao is no one's favorite senator. While he is a huge source of Filipino pride and definitely a modern type of hero, he has, in the past, made questionable political choices, comments, and choice of haircuts.
But if it is true that a crisis brings out the true measure of a man, then COVID-19 is certainly bringing out the best of this athlete-turned-public servant.
Pacquiao's generosity has always been well-known—he has given over P200 million away since becoming a boxing legend—but it's reassuring to see that amid the national chaos, this fighter can keep a cool head. We never thought we'd look up to Manny Pacquiao in this setting, but here we are. We salute you, sir.
1| Manny Pacquiao has not only donated medical supplies using his own money, he's also tapped his ultra rich friends to do the same.
Not only has the senator pooled money with his entrepreneur friends to donate 700,000 face masks, he also asked his close personal friend Jack Ma (the richest man in China) for help. Through Pacquiao and his foundation, the Alibaba founder donated P400-million worth of testing kits (57,000 units) as well as 500,000 additional face masks.
Pacquiao has also publicly encouraged his fellow senators: "Kung kulang ang pera magdonate sa sariling bulsa (If the funds are not enough, we should donate money from our own pockets)."
2| Manny Pacquiao is not afraid to die.
"If you are a leader, you have to be a frontliner," he told the Manila Bulletin regarding his continued public appearances and messages of encouragement to the public.
Let's be honest, most of the politicians in the legistlative branch are not on the frontlines. They're either "self-quarantined" or making Manila paper posters with creepy serial killer letters spelling out how hard they're working. But as Pacquiao gives out his donations, he has been reported as saying: "You have to lead and let people see that you are with them...I grew up poor. I know what they feel."
3| Manny Pacquiao lent buses to frontliners.
When the enhanced community quarantine was installed, one of the biggest issues was how to transport frontliners to, well, the frontlines. The boxing legend quickly lent five buses to the Metro Manila Development Authority to provide free rides for healthcare workers.
4| Manny Pacquiao refuses to be re-tested for COVID-19.
Viral videos have shown Pacquiao exposed to COVID-positive Koko Pimentel. Not only has he self-quarantined, he also did his own test using a rapid testing kit from South Korea. The results turned out negative and without any symptoms showing, the senator has politely declined retesting and taking any of the scarce testing kits available at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine. In his letter to the barangay chair of Dasmariñas of which he is a resident, he wrote: "I firmly believe that we have a lot of Persons Under Investigation or PUI who have to be prioritized in terms of testing."
5| Manny Pacquiao wants the focus to be on the crisis and not on messy gossip or politics.
In the past days, there's been a kerfuffle regarding Pacquiao's COVID-19 status. After his known exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case (again, that's Senator Pimentel), his barangay chief sent him a letter detailing that no one in his household should come out. The private letter somehow made its way to messaging groups and, eventually, the media.
The award-winning boxer chastised the spread of the private letter, sending his own to rebuke some of its claims and wondering how it got into the hands of the public. He finished his letter with "I would like to remind you that it is in the best interest of our immediate community, and of the general public, if we refrain from making assertions or conclusions based on unverified news items and malicious social media posts...We do not wish to cause unnecessary panic during these trying times."
6| Manny Pacquiao wants to help more despite being in quarantine.
In a statement released over the weekend, Pacquiao has stated that even in quarantine, he's still working from home, looking for aid for the frontliners. He's also promised more medical gear will be sent to hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country.
7| Manny Pacquiao wants you to stop spitting in public.
Firstly, COVID-19 or not, spitting is disgusting. Pacquiao may be more a man of action (see examples above), but his brand new legislation makes perfect sense. As per the Senate Bill No. 1406, also known as the Anti-Spitting Act of 2020, "individuals who would spit or 'intentionally' expel 'saliva, phlegm, or mucus' in public would be fined between P5,000 and P50,000," depending on the number of times the offense has been committed.