Has Pacquiao really changed?
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Has boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao really changed? If indeed he has changed, will he be able keep himself on the right path throughout his lifetime?

It’s heart-warming to read reports about the “changed Pacquiao.”

One such report, which is a column item written by veteran Philippine journalist Ronnie Nathanielz, reads:

“When Manny asked one of his aides to get a chair and have us sit next to him at the recent 12th Annual ‘Flash’ Elorde Awards Banquet of Champions, we were pleasantly surprised. Not too long ago, he was visibly upset by our comments after his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez and our condemnation of his indiscriminate ways and the leeches, who surround him.

“After we sat down, Manny proceeded to ask us about our favorite passage in the Bible and we answered Psalm XXIII — ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’

“Sufficiently impressed, Manny recited several excerpts from the scriptures, chapter and verse, in amazing fashion. We couldn’t believe how much he had memorized and the ease with which he quoted the Bible and reflected on the meaning of the passages he had cited. This was certainly a new Manny Pacquiao, far removed from the wild and wooly individual, whose lifestyle brought untold pain to his charming wife and threatened to wreck his family.

“God, in His infinite wisdom, effected a complete change in Manny because, from our own knowledge of Pacquiao, he was a soul worth saving and one who could be put to far greater use in setting an example to others to mend their wayward ways because he wields such an influence.”

Despite this glowing comment about the greatest Filipino boxer, I fear that someday Pacquiao might be forced to swallow his words about his being a completely reformed person, a devout Christian at that.

The fact that Pacquiao is now a full-pledged politician is one reason I doubt his pronouncement. I don’t simply believe in the words and promises of politicians, particularly the Philippine species. Most of the time, their words are hogwash.

Another reason is that human nature, just like midnight, has two sides. This point is amply explained by John Steinbeck when he wrote: “Man, capable of greatest good, is also capable of the greatest evil. Who is more carnal than a recent virgin? Who is more impious than a backsliding priest?”

Yes, Manny Pacquiao, just like any other men, is capable of changing himself from a sinner to a saint. And it seems that he has already turned his back on his sinful past, which was characterized by his propensity to gamble and womanize.

Many people still remember those reports about his betting millions of pesos in cockfighting and his alleged entanglement with the seductive Krista Ranillo.

While I’m impressed by his resolve to turn away from sins, I’m not sure if he can maintain a life free of sins.

My apprehension lies in the fact that the road ahead of Pacquiao, who is still comparatively young, is still a long, long way. And I’m sure that the devil, who never sleeps, will set up a lot of traps along the road.

Will he succumb again to temptations?

I don’t really know what kind of man is Pacquiao. We know only that just like his mother, he prays a lot and reads the Bible. Perhaps, his prayers will keep him away from temptations. Perhaps, he has what it takes to keep himself on a righteous path. Perhaps, he has the DNA of a saint. Perhaps, he is even capable of beating the devil in a boxing bout.

I hope that he will be able to keep a truly Christian way.

He has shown a strong determination to succeed, and this provides a glimmer of hope.  It is noted that through sheer will, patience and hard work, he has demonstrated that although he is a man of humble beginnings, he has realized what seems to be an impossible dream – a dream of great fame and fortune.

If Pacquiao is able to maintain his new, reformed self, he would be one of the greatest Filipinos. And he would deserve to become the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the near future.

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