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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


By Dennis Guillermo | April 13, 2009

Ricky Hatton's trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., may claim he's a poet, but you already know Filipinos are telling him to kiss their "puwets" (in Tagalog, "puwet" means "rear" or "butt"). You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Like trying to teach faith to an atheist, it's hard to change the views of a hater - the type of people that love to label hardcore fans as "nuthuggers." Fair-weathered people will come and go as often as world championship belts get passed along, but just like a Chicago Bulls fan in the 90's, being a Manny Pacquiao fan is like cheering for a dynasty. As soon as he signed on the dotted line, Ricky Hatton became a marked man in the Philippines.

I've been writing and following Manny Pacquiao for quite some time now. As a Filipino, the Pacquiao phenomenon is nothing I have ever experienced in my whole 27 years of existence. I'm just happy I was born in the same era to witness it. If Stallone's Rocky was a true story, maybe that would be comparable. Then again, Philadelphia did build a monument for this fictional character…and people think Pacquiao fans are nuts? Most of us boxing fans have already heard or read about Manny Pacquiao's significance to the Philippines. We've seen the 24/7s, heard that Pacquiao stops wars and crime in his country whenever he fights and so on and so forth. This time, I will try to paint a picture, from the eyes of the majority of my fellow Filipinos, of what Ricky Hatton means to the Philippines.

Ricky Hatton may be the pride of Manchester, England, a land and a place that most Filipinos only hear about in movies and tales, but before all is said and done, and it has already begun, Manchester, England will be transformed into Manny-chester, England. Just look back at Manny's visit to the UK to promote his fight with Hatton. Since it was Hatton's hometown, given the reputation of Hatton's own loyal and rabid fans, it was expected that Pacquiao's fans would be easily outnumbered. However, as Borat would say, "naaaat!" Pacquiao fans would not be outdone as they showed up in masses. Wherever they want to take our hero, we will come!

Ricky Hatton may not have said or done any wrongdoing against Pacquiao or the Philippines, but on the 2nd of May, he will become the nation's Public Enemy #1. To Filipinos, Hatton is but another obstacle, another roadblock in their quest for success. If we're talking about a Filipino illegal immigrant living in the US, Hatton is simply the INS. If were talking about the jeepney drivers on the streets of Manila, Hatton is the reason why they might not make boundary (the amount of money the jeepney driver must pay the owner). To many Filipinos, Hatton is poverty, corruption, oppression and even a national calamity. If Bill Clinton was a Filipino, Hatton would be Monica Lewinsky. Any outsider might think it to be absurd or hyperbole, but no singular thing can impact the Filipino people around the world in a more devastating manner than a Manny Pacquiao loss. I can't even fathom or imagine it. All that I listed above are things the nation has been living and dealing with for as long as I can remember - except Lewinsky of course. But every time Manny Pacquiao fights and wins, it seems like the entire nation is oblivious to all negativity.

In other words, Hatton is the person standing in the way of another Philippine holiday. Pacquiao is the glitter and hope inside every struggling Filipino's eyes, while Hatton represnets the tears they fight to veer and the opposition that pushes their will against the ropes. At the end of the day, Filipinos will not really hate Hatton, so long as he loses to Pacquiao. They might even learn to love him, as long as he takes a whooping. Just ask David Diaz.

But all kidding aside, there is a small minority of Filipinos who believe that a Hatton victory may very well be a good thing. It's been known for quite some time that Pacquiao wishes to enter the dirty game of politics in the Philippines. It's something that the majority of his fans do not want him to do, as reflected by his loss the last time he ran for government office. So in that light, Hatton may be the key to keeping Pacquiao out of office. A loss to Hatton might mean a return to focus in the ring. Maybe…maybe not, but regardless, no Pacquiao follower will ever wish any misfortune for their man. With that said, Pacquiao was made for boxing. His biggest service to his people is the hope and happiness he gives them every time he climbs into the ring. Let's all just hope that if Pacquiao does want to retire, it's not because of politics.

Come May, the Hit Man will be Magellan, the European explorer who more than 400 years ago aspired to conquer the Philippine islands only to be halted by Lapu-Lapu, the Filipino datu who led the natives in slaying the Spaniards. Pacquiao is the national hero of us all, each and every time he fights. On the second day of May, Hatton will be the adversary whom the whole country will unite against behind their datu Pacquiao. After all, it's the "Battle of East and West." Best believe it…Ricky Hatton is the enemy!


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