"On Manny Pacquiao and Henry Sy Sr."
Yesterday, the contrasting fate of two of the most admired Filipinos served as benchmarks, milestones if you will, of the country’s journey as a proud member of the family of nations. We are talking here of the successful defense of Senator Manny Pacquaio of his WBA welterweightcrown against American Adrian Broner. The 40-year-old, eight-division champion from Sarangani province proved, as he himself intimated early on, that age is just a number as he pummeled Broner to a unanimous decision over the 12-round match.
Some watchers, of course, decried the inability of the good senator to score a knockout or even a knockdown for that matter. They had overly romanticized Pacquaio’s boxing career to the point of expecting miracles at his age. It is clear that while boxing remains the senator’s true love, he has half-moved on to other pursuits which somehow divides his attention. Nevertheless, his gritty showing in the ring and his demeanor outside, before and after the fight, has endeared him to viewers all around the world. That there was no knockout cannot and should not deprive him of the victory he deserved. After all, he was able to show that while he may be years older than Broner, his physical conditioning and, more importantly, his mental and spiritual standing were beyond reproach. He showed how champions are made and how they should behave in and out of the ring. He remains a fighter at heart and a true blue resilient and persevering a Filipino as well.
Indeed, Senator Pacquaio’s life journey mirrors that of the millions of our countrymen out there who have had to carry themselves up from the deprivation of poverty to the heights of fame and success. Through hard work and perseverance and, perhaps more important, faith in a Supreme Being who guides the destinies of men and nations, he was able to hudle the extreme challenges which came his way. He persevered when almost all hopes for a better life were almost gone. He went through very hard times indeed and overcame all the brickbats and depravity which came his way. He now has the choice of fighting in the ring for another day or giving up his gloves in a flame of glory and move on to serve as an inspiration to others and continue serving as a guide to a better future for us all. Having brought honor and prestige to our people with his boxing exploits he can now translate this to yet more benefits for our country and people by being an exemplary public servant as he is proving to be. He is truly one Filipino we can all be proud of.
On the other hand, the death of taipan Henry “Tatang” Sy Sr., the country’s wealthiest person and dubbed as “The King of Retail” serves as another example, a milestone, in the continuing saga of the millions of our countrymen out there aspiring for a better life. In death as in life, “Tatang” has given each and every Filipino hope that this country can be a nurturing one for those who are ready to work hard, sacrifice and not easily give up on their dreams for a better future. Mr. Sy’s life story like that of Senator Pacquaio and others before them who had to buckle down and carry their load with faith, honesty and hard work is one for the books. Theirs are truly inspirational indeed.
From being a young, penniless immigrant from Fujian, “Tatang” literally transformed himself and the businesses he focused on—retail, real state development and banking, among others—to world-class excellence. After opening a shoe store in one of the commercial districts in what was the business district of Manila, he was able to parlay his marketing, organizational and financial acumen to establish one of the largest and profitable conglomerates not only in the Philippines but in South East Asia. From that small shoe store in Carriedo, Mr. Sy was able to create a retail empire with 72 stores nationwide and a bevy of others across China serving more than three-million customers daily.
Expanding his reach from malls and retail, the Sy brand—SM—has become synonymous with huge real estate developments and the largest banking network in the Philippines. At the time of his death, the SM brand which he created from scratch has become an all-too-familiar one, signalling to the world that here in this benighted land there is one brand we can all be proud of as Filipinos. Mr. Sy’s legacy like the empire he built based on hard work, faith in the Almighty and service to one’s fellowmen will forever be an inspiration to our people.
The contrasting fates of Senator Pacquiao and Mr. Sy at this very moment can only inspire us all to move on and work even harder to make our country a better place for the generations to come.