The news earlier this week that Manny Pacquiao talked to God
about the great power he'd one day be blessed with reminded me of the recurring kerfuffle during the Bush years whenever George W. Bush would claim that God instructed him to make certain decisions as commander in chief. One of them, it appears, was invading Iraq
. God, would you like to own up to that blunder?
Anyway, now that Pacquiao is back on the campaign trail, albeit unofficially until the campaign period starts next March, his Holy tête-à-tête reminded me of Bush. Here's what Pacquiao told the 1500 lucky attendees at his 31st birthday bash in General Santos City:
In my 31 years here on Earth, God appeared to me once and told me to have unconditional faith in him. I was not yet very popular and world champion when our God appeared to me and assured me of strength and power.
Of course, the alarm bells don't sound quite as quickly in the Philippines when a politician says he's guided by God as they do here in the States. Many Americans were shocked by Bush's bald-faced Bible-thumping. We knew he was Born Again, but the idea that he would use his power in office do whatever his lord asked of him was disturbing to a country that has enshrined the separation of church and state in the bill of rights. Of course, I think the Philippines has some nominal devotion to this concept, but the inability to pass urgently-needed family planning and birth control legislation and the Comelec's ugly disqualification of the Gay Rights party list group Ang Ladlad on grounds of "sexual immorality"
seem to indicate that Catholic doctrine is in many cases stronger than lofty democratic ideals.
I'm Christian and I'm looking forward to Christmas here in New York (sadly, there will be no queso de bola, no buko salad, no nothing at my noche buena this evening -- can you feel my inggit?), but I think important government decisions are better made by men and women who aren't driven by their unwavering faith in religious dogma that isn't necessarily shared by the citizens they serve.
In other Pacquiao news, Manny took the oath of the Nacionalista Party
this week and made formal his alliance with presidential candidate Manny Villar
, an event many people saw coming after Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga showed up at Pacquiao's Baguio City training camp to talk politics and showed up in HBO's Pacquiao/Cotto 24/7
. I don't know if it matters which candidate Pacquiao sides with. There's something heartening about knowing he's officially out of PGMA's Lakas-Kampi pocket, although who knows what kind of nasty crud lies hidden in Senator Villar's deep pockets. I am impressed by the sheer gonzo nature of Villar's Nacionalista slate
, which includes Bongbong Marcos, whose dictator dad imprisoned Junior's running mate, Satur Ocampo, as well as all-around lunatic Miriam Defensor Santiago and Mr. Resiklo, Bong Revilla
. Which Nacionalista Party candidate will dominate this week's Metro Manila Film Festival? Wapakman
or Ang Panday