‘I mentioned my viewpoint to a friend who then naughtily asked me if I was in effect saying that 2022 will be between the boxer from Gensan and the boxer from Davao?’
YEARS (many years) ago, I was going out with a student of an exclusive girl’s school situated in one of the Makati villages. She was ten years my junior but this wasn’t too obvious, except on those occasions when I’d pick her up from school and we would have a meal in a restaurant and I was all corporate and she was in her college uniform.
One time I brought her along to a mini reunion of UP high school classmates and she was all ears as we got to chatting about the Thrilla in Manila and Ali Mall in Cubao. That’s when she interjected, in awe and wonder, that we had a mall that not only was named after the boxing great but had in fact been opened by none other than the boxing great himself. “I didn’t know that!” she excitedly exclaimed.
Everyone else in the group was stunned – until I reminded them that she was only 2 years old when we were already placing bets and cheering for either Muhammad Ali or Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
There was never another Thrilla in Manila 2, at least not featuring Ali and Frazier. But the more I think about it the more it looks to me that 2022 will be shaping up as the successor to the 1975 blockbuster that even had Ali release a single about him with such lyrics as “he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.”
I mentioned my viewpoint to a friend who then naughtily asked me if I was in effect saying that 2022 will be between the boxer from Gensan and the boxer from Davao? To which I responded that I didn’t know that SenSAP was into boxing!
Seriously though, it looks to me, as of today, that 2022 will indeed be a slam bang of an affair, featuring the Mayor of Davao and the Pambansang Kamao. And by the way, the latter already has a single, entitled (I think) “Lalaya ka sa Paghihirap,” based on “Bayan Ko” and produced by none other than Freddie “Anak’ Aguilar. Some of the lyrics go “Si Manny Pacquiao ay naririto, handang tulungan ang mga tao; Dahil siya ay nanggaling sa hirap, ramdam niya ang mga kapus-palad. Si Manny ang ating hinihintay, hangarin niya sa actin ay tunay…”
Didn’t Freddie sing a campaign song for PRRD in 2016? It seems he has placed his bets early. Bravely. Confidently. Does he know something we don’t?
Another friend mentioned to me that Mayora Sara is running. This, despite all the hemming and hawing from the Palace, which, my friend says, is a page taken out of the 2016 Duterte-playing-coy playbook. But why will she run, I asked? Because she has been told that if she doesn’t run it is akin to turning her father over to the ICC.
Now in the Philippines can there be a greater motivation than that?
Which brings me to my point of view about 2022 looming as the equivalent of Thrilla in Manila 2. A slam bang affair, one where each gives no quarter. If you were alive to see the first one, remember how both fighters slugged it out to the very end, throwing everything they’ve got even when they looked like they were each ready to just keel over and….take the prize money? Not Ali and not Frazier. There was far more than money (Ali was guaranteed $4.5M and Frazier $2M) involved. You can imagine 2022 being the same, just add a few more zeroes.
But how will Thrilla 2 turn out? To answer that we need to shift focus away from the pugilists to the audience, they who will be casting their votes to determine the winner. The question we will need to answer is: what will the mood of the electorate be in May 2022?
A smart cookie divided Filipinos into four categories, each of which he named using a D: there’s the Dilawan, and there’s the DDS, and there’s the Dead-Tired, and there’s the Deadma. If I got him right, this is how he broke us all down: those in the first group cannot by any means stomach what is happening today or each and everyone in the administration. The second group extols this administration to the high heavens, and cannot stomach the likes of those in the administration immediately preceding this one. Oh, and for the second group, anyone who criticizes the current state of affairs must be a member of the first group.
The third group are those who still care enough to stop, look and listen, but are getting to the point of frustration and wondering if there isn’t anyone or anything else out there that could put an end to their miserable existence. The fourth have decided that whatever they say or do will not amount to much, maybe because this is God’s punishment, and so have chosen to shrug their shoulders and care no longer about anything beyond their small circle of concern, which is basically self and family and survival.
You can imagine based on each group’s classification what their mood will be in 2022. And who could benefit from that.
I also have another perspective this time on the “trajectory” of the country. In this perspective I divide the electorate into four categories: the “stay the course,” which could mainly equate with the DDS; the “course correction,” which would be a part of the DDS that believes there need to be some adjustments to policies and programs; the “course deviation,” which would be those who believe the course correction should apply to more than just some of today’s policies and programs; and then the “course about-face,” referring to those who would upend any and everything that this administration has done, the way we had an about-face in 1986 following EDSA.
A Sara will easily win the first group but can write off the last. Manny will have to trough for votes in the second and third groups, but I think the last group will not be his for the taking. But if Manny will anchor his campaign on the target of his Freddie Aguilar jingle (see the visuals that accompany the song) then I think his appeal will cut across the first three groups, especially those who vote on the basis of feel and emotion more than on anything else.
Which seems to mean that the Thrilla in Manila 2 is his to lose.
Sometimes I’d rather be in a situation where I have nothing, rather than everything, to lose!