Why Manny in the PBA is symbolic of what's wrong with our country

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In this Oct. 19, 2014 photo released by Team Pacquiao, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, the playing-coach of KIA Sorento basketball team, is cheered by teammates following his team's 80-66 win against Blackwater Elite in the 40th season of the PBA at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. (AP Photo/Team Pacquiao, Mike Young) NO SALES
In this Oct. 19, 2014 photo released by Team Pacquiao, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, the playing-coach of KIA Sorento basketball team, is cheered by teammates following his team's 80-66 win against Blackwater Elite in the 40th season of the PBA at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. (AP Photo/Team Pacquiao, Mike Young) NO SALES

So the National Fist is now a player in the country's top hoops league. Some might celebrate it, but not me. In my humble opinion, Manny Pacquiao as professional hoops player is a bad idea, and a reflection of the twisted mindset that pervades our society.

Of course, I am a Manny Pacquiao fan, just like most Filipinos. As a boxer, his title-winning odyssey through eight different weight classes was enthralling, and makes all Filipinos justifiably proud.

There is another thing about Pacquiao that I appreciate. He is one of the only people in the country holding professional pool tournaments with big purses. Just last month he held a singles 10 ball event followed by a doubles tournament, in General Santos City that attracted the best players in the world. Another one will take place in December.

I tip my hat to Pacquiao for helping out a sport that is in the doldrums. He should continue this work.

But joining Kia in the PBA? I think he should have never made this move, but sadly, it's indicative of the warped priorities and mentality prevalent in Philippine culture. Let me enumerate the reasons why Manny shouldn't be lacing it up in the PBA and why it's sadly reflective of the flaws in our society.

It sends a poor message that connections and star power are the key to success, not skill or hard work.

The Philippines is not a meritocracy. Unlevel playing fields exist in business, education, government, and now, sport.

There are hundreds, thousands even, of hardworking young basketball players who have been doing drills, busting their butts in practice, and giving their all in games.

All over the Philippines there are also tons of dedicated coaches who stay up all night watching film, take time to draw up plays, counsel their wards, and hone their craft.

These players slave for years to have a shot at the Big Show, the PBA. Only the very best, the cream of the crop, make it.

Until Manny came along.

What Pacquiao has done is basically using his fame, wealth, connections, and star value to jump the line and get ahead of all of these players and coaches who have dedicated their lives to the game. I wonder what all those players undrafted by the PBA feel about him making it while they miss out.

In the Philippines we have government officials giving jobs to relatives and cronies regardless of their competence or experience. Too often a job goes to someone based on “palakasan” rather than qualifications. For me, Manny's foray into professional basketball is no different.

It shows a lack of long-term thinking.

Filipinos have many admirable qualities, but planning ahead isn't one of them. We are reminded of that every rush hour, especially when it rains.

Sure, seeing Manny Pacquiao dribbling around the giants of the PBA will be neat. But for only a while. Once he starts getting his shots swatted away and begins turning over the ball, it will get real old, real fast.

But of course Kia cannot seem to see that far ahead.

A better solution would be to have a PBA all-star game with some celebrities or maybe old-timers. Then Pacquiao could have played once, shown some moves, and be done with playing in the PBA. Instead we have the conference-long farce we must endure now.

It perpetuates an unhealthy obsession with celebrity.

In the Philippines we can't seem to get enough of our showbiz heroes and celebrity icons. For sure the same thing happens in other countries, but the Philippines may be more celebrity-addled than most.

In my opinion we love to put our celebs on impossibly high pedestals, only for them to inevitably tumble down.

This also works both ways. Our adulation can make these celebrities swell-headed. They believe their own hype and think they can do anything.

Pacman is a brilliant boxer. That led him to run for congress, where his anti-Reproductive Health Bill stance rankled many (including myself), and his unremarkable attendance record has been noted.

Once again he bites off more than he can chew, with a PBA campaign that is doomed to fail. But maybe we set him up for it by lionizing him.

It's consistent with our habit of taking something nice and sort of ruining it.

Filipinos cannot seem to take care of public property and common areas. In no time, any new public edifice, park, project, sign, waiting shed, you name it, looks shabby, or at worst, is outright vandalized.

For me this is taking place with the PBA, thanks to Manny's participation as player-coach.

The PBA is red-hot. The league, which is celebrating its fourth decade, has overcome difficulties in the past to become extremely popular, sustainable, lucrative, and exciting. I give the PBA huge credit for Gilas Pilipinas' runner-up finish in last year's FIBA Asia tournament and this year's overachieving in Spain.

The league doesn't need publicity stunts to be more popular. And yet it has agreed to one with Manny Pacquiao. In my opinion the league has been cheapened or sullied somewhat.

After FIBA Asia and the World Cup I could say the PBA is one of Asia's top hoops leagues, if not THE premier basketball club competition in Asia. But the association isn't acting that way in allowing a rich, well-connected amateur to stroll in and play even though he is spectacularly unqualified.

It bespeaks of a me-first attitude that ignores the rest of the community.

Filipinos like to throw their trash all over the place. For the one dumping, it's easy and convenient. But he refuses to consider the effect it has on the environment shared by all.

For me, Pacquiao's foray into the PBA is of the same vein. Apparently it's always been Manny's dream to be a pro baller. This is what he has wanted ever since. So know that he has a path to the PBA, he is taking it.

But is he considering how it affects everything else? The credibility of the league? How other players and coaches will see it? Apparently no. What matters most is his dream, everything else takes a back seat.

My colleague Jude Roque warned Manny not to take this plunge into pro hoops. The caution went unheeded, and here we are.

Kia has some great cars. The new Sorento is gorgeous, the Optima and Carens look terrific, and I even admire their Picanto and Rio subcompacts.

But cheer for their PBA team? Since they allowed Manny to be a part of their squad, not a chance.

 

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.

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