Judgement from above?
(Courtesy of hbo.com)
Hours before the fight of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez, I read an article in Rappler that highlighted one of the biggest changes in Manny's pre-fight rituals: he no longer went to a Catholic Mass, but instead went to a Christian service, highlighting his change of religious allegiance.
Even before I finished the first paragraph, a singular thought already formed in my mind: If Manny loses, I can imagine some quarters blaming this change of faith to be the "culprit".
I'm not sure if I can even derive some measure of satisfaction from being right.
True enough, after the country collectively gasped when Manny was knocked down, consequently losing the match, it took mere moments before I started seeing posts in social media with my prediction:
"Hindi kasi nag sign of the cross!"
"If only he remained loyal to the Catholic faith, he would have won."
"Ayan, pinarusahan ng Diyos kasi tinalikuran niya ang Simbahang Katoliko!"
It's easy enough to dismiss these remarks as detached commentaries from what my friend, journalist Alan Robles, calls "Katolitrolls" (religious zealots of the Catholic faith, characterized by intolerance to other faiths and expressing this every way they can), appropriating for themselves some pecuiliar "moral authority".
And then Mommy D. spoke.
Mommy D. is, of course, Manny's mother, also known as Aling Dionesia, a celebrity by osmosis. (Although, from what I have seen, her "entertainment value" seems to be personally evoked, needing only her son to introduce her to the public, and taking it from there all by her lonesome.) As she was interviewed right after Manny's loss, she minced no words in assessing the reason why her son lost.
"That's what he gets for changing religion. Since the Protestant pastors came into his life, he had not focused on his boxing. They always prayed, with Manny losing sleep."
"I hope he listens to me when he returns and be a Catholic again."
A problematic position to take, if we are to tackle these questions:
1. Juan Miguel Marquez has been a consistent Catholic, why has he never won against Manny until now?
2. As a legislator, Rep. Pacquiao has been steadfastly anti RH Bill. Recently, a bishop floated the idea (without categorically stating, which seems to be a manifestation of a sterling "Filipino mechanism", magparinig) that typhoon Pablo, which killed hundreds of people, was due to the bill being discussed in Congress. Using that same "logic" - where God is seen as expressing displeasure at those who support the bill - what could God be "implying" by making Pacquiao lose?
3. If the loss was because of his religion - also implying that it is the "wrong faith" - how come there are many "successful" religious leaders who practice the same religion? And by success, I mean they head large organizations, have a sizeable amount of followers, and if the American versions of this religion are to be the standard, wield considerable wealth which has been criticized as being used to influence secular legislation there?
4. If all boxers turn Catholic, who loses? (tangent to question 1)
5. I have heard of a local priest say that his faith disapproves of violence, alluding to the sport of boxing as being "not favored" by Catholicism. Should his view prevail, or Mommy D.'s, who gave birth to the Pambansang Kamao, traffic exterminator, archipelago time-stopper and the definitive rags-to-riches story of this country?
Until these questions are answered, Pacquiao has a plethora of career options to choose from. But will these also suffer the same fate if he does not revert back to Catholicism?