Saturday, October 13, 2007

What's five minutes. . . .

What’s five minutes to a busy man? A lot, it would seem, if Manny Pacquiao would be believed; Scheduling difficulties (maybe mishap is the appropriate word) being the top reason floated around to quell the firestorm that resulted from his ‘snubbing’ the City of Manila.

He is a national icon and fresh from a boxing victory that made the Philippines proud. It’s a safe bet that every Filipino in the land (or abroad) wanted to shake his hand immediately after defeating Barrera, but unfortunately there’s not enough of Manny to go around.

But we’re not talking about one day or even literally shaking every hand in the Philippines. Would five minutes really hurt as much?

Manny Pacquiao on his return day went to the office of his close ally Lito Atienza at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Quezon City. At rush hour travel time would have taken an hour at least, maybe less if you avoided the main roads. Manny had arrived from the US in the morning so I assume traffic was reasonably light; maybe even lighter if he had some police escorts with him.

After the DENR secretary was no less than the President of the land, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacañang. It’s a long travel from Quezon City to Manila, and can even reach nightmarish proportions if you use España; but, Manny went. News of the boxer’s arrival at the palace reached the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), where I work, placing his arrival around 10 a.m.

The place where Manny opted not to go that day, the Manila City Hall, is almost quite literally, a stone’s throw away. DBM is located somewhere in between. From my office I can reach the city hall on foot in 10 minutes or less; and equal time it would take me to walk to the palace. With cars, traveling from Malacañang to Manila City Hall, would take less than 5 minutes.

No Manny. He remained in the palace asking for “national unity” of all things.

Scheduling mishap or not; why didn’t Pacquiao’s handlers give enough wiggle room to the City of Manila which has been accustomed to welcoming him. It would have been more surprising (and a political suicide) if Mayor Alfredo Lim not give him the usual welcoming motorcade.

Even if it was the fault of the Mayor in not advising Manny’s camp, what’s five minutes? Refuse a motorcade, its expensive anyway; but just pass through going home from Malacañang. Give a token appearance; Manny care’s for his fans right? Why should a trivial thing such as a schedule get in the way of giving the common man - the true fan - a few short minutes of seeing their beloved Manny?

For that matter, why should a trivial thing such as a schedule get in the way of “national unity”?

I don’t follow boxing, I never have. Because of my lack of interest in the sport I fail to appreciate Manny’s talent, but as a Filipino I fully appreciate his effect on people. What made me react was because I am disappointed that he had to sully his reputation by his desire to enter politics; a world that he does not know; a world that he doesn’t even have the intellectual prowess to survive in.

Unlike the politicians he so much desires to be, Manny Pacquiao does not have the talent of making excuses. A few years back, Mayor Binay of Makati was also guilty of ‘scheduling mishaps’. It seems city mayors of one political group can’t even do a simple thing as fixing schedules and making appointments, or is it Manny who is the problem?

Besides if Manny is truly for the people whatever happened to re-scheduling?