The country was at a standstill when Manny Pacquiao traded blows with Oscar Larios at the Araneta Coliseum last July 2. More than half the country was glued to TV sets, and even the churches admit that Mass attendance that Sunday was unusually low. Such was the excitement over the Pacquiao-Larios bout that media even reported two cases of viewers suffering heart attacks while watching it.
Never before in its history has the country seen such extent of adulation for a boxer. Not even during the heyday of the legendary Gabriel “Flash” Elorde – who put the Philippines on the world boxing map – did he enjoy such following.
By all means, Pacquiao is indeed worthy of admiration and respect, not only for his talent as a boxer but also for the determination he displayed in his personal struggle from poverty and obscurity to fame and fortune. His victories on the ring are hard-earned and he surely deserves praise for these.
But there is something telling in the kind of adulation he has been receiving, mostly from those in the less fortunate sections of the populace.
It is something way out of the ordinary: it is idolatry of the brand that brought former actor Joseph Estrada to the presidency. We can be sure — provided that elections are clean — that Pacquiao would win by a quick knockout should he think of running for the highest office in the land.
This is because we are now at a point where, for the most part, only the likes of Pacquiao could give some cause for hope.
This is a chapter in our history where it has become almost impossible to imagine a worse fate for our country.
The economy is in a shambles, the rule of law has been reduced to a terrible joke, and the moral fabric is in tatters.
The growing ranks of paupers in the streets bespeak the increasing impoverishment of the masses, while those in the corridors of privilege and power flaunt their stolen wealth like bandits boasting of their booty. We have a fictitious president who runs the government in the Mafia manner, a regime that bends the laws of the land in every possible way to justify the daily infliction of the most unthinkable atrocities on the people.
All this is cause for the kind of desperation that gives rise to Pacquiao’s cult following. The country’s present leadership has failed, and failed miserably, in its duty to make each coming day worth looking forward to for the people. In their hopelessness our countrymen turn to the likes of Pacquiao, whose every triumph in the ring is a spark in the darkness.
The culture of despair being bred by the country’s rock-bottom state makes it more and more necessary for us artists to step out of the ivory tower. We are being challenged by the times to show through our works the power that resides in the people, the great wellspring of our material, to alter the course of history as they have done a number of times.
We in the Artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST Gloria) are committed to take up this challenge, and we enjoin our fellow artists to do the same.
Artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST Gloria)
July 25, 2006
Southern Tagalog Exposure + KASIBULAN Women Artists’ Collective + KUMASA (Kulturang Ugnayan ng Manggagawa at Uring Anakpawis sa Timog Katagalugan) + ARTIST, Inc. (Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog) + Kilometer 64 Poetry Group + Tambisan sa Sining + APLAYA (Artistang Pangkultura ng Mamamalakaya sa Timog Katagalugan) + UPLB Umalohokan + Pokus Gitnang Luson + Paolo Martinez + Andrea Muñoz + Gian Paolo Mayuga + Jeffrey Ferrer + Onin Tagaro + Bobby Balingit + Winnie Balingit + Lourd de Veyra + Dong Abay + Ninj Abay + Con Cabrera + Roselle Pineda + Heidi Takama + Boom Dizon + Rommel Lozano + Mary Rose Abano + Aba Dalena + Sari Dalena + Gari B + Adios GMA-NCR + Tudla Productions