Two Filipino success stories filled the news in the last couple of weeks.
There of course was the sensational humiliation handed down by boxer Manny Pacquiao on Miguel Cotto, in the process winning an unprecedented 7 titles in different weight categories. President Macapagal Arroyo immediately rewarded this with the highest civilian honor that the Philippine government can give. It did not hurt that Pacquiao won millions in prize money and more in cable sales, and a crack at another boxer for a whooping 50 Million US Dollars. Nor the fact that he is again running for Congress, reportedly in another City because he lost heavily in General Santos when he last run for Congress. Pacquiao was being heralded as the best boxer of all time, besting allegedly legends like Sugar Ray Leonard and the Greatest himself, Muhammad Ali. If Pacquiao were not alive and kicking, he might have replaced Rizal as the National Hero.
The other success story was that of Efren Penaflorida, a Filipino who brought education to hundreds of poor children in the slums using a makeshift wooden cart, borrowed education materials, and a hardy group of volunteers. He was not famous. He did not have his own TV show. He did not have money. He did not even have to do what he does. He could as easily have chosen a path that most young men take, probably work in an office and go home to a family. Yet, he chose to make a difference in the lives of others. For being CNN Hero of the Year he got 100,000 usd, small change when compared to Pacquiao’s Millions. But who did the Filipino public adore more, the internationally famous boxer with all his riches and glamor riding in his luxury cars or the humble, unknown educator in the slums pushing his makeshift wooden cart and like the pied piper playing the music of hope for hundreds of children who can afford only hope in their lives. Why must it take a foreigner to recognize this hero in our midst ? Why must the awards and titles go to someone who breaks another man’s face for a living instead of to somebody who has dedicated his life to make a difference?? Am I missing something here…huh??