That Pacq-ing book…

I got this book with the intention of passing it on to one of my uncles. My uncle is a devout fanatic of Congressman Pacquiao and I thought he’d get a kick out of the book (he did). I got a kick out of the book too.

The book, as told from Pacquiao’s perspective, chronicles his humble beginnings as a street urchin in the boondocks of Tango, his start as pugilist in the Philippines, his meteoric rise to godlike status in the international boxing world and concludes with a rather lengthy chapter on his political career. Besides the autobiographical passages, the book is interspersed with reportage from sports journalists and some first-person accounts from Jinkee, Manny’s Wife. Though some of the more controversial stories (like the botched Golden Boy/Top Rank contract negotiations) are mentioned, they’re merely treated as side stories and glossed past.

Once I got past the niggling “I-can’t-believe-he-wrote-this” feeling, it’s a rather entertaining (sometimes in the wrong way) read. The cast of supporting characters and behind-the-scenes vignettes are very compelling to someone like me who’s been following Pacman’s career since his Dela Hoya Match. The first-person blow-by-blow accounts of the fights are very brief but are still interesting as they expose insight as to how Pacman thinks inside the ring.

My little problem with the book is that I feel that the language is sort of flowery, long winded and at times preachy. A Timothy James is credited along with Manny Pacquiao on the title page, and I think he’s part of the problem. I think that James was translating what Pacquiao said, and may have embellished at times. Some of the non-quoted passages sound very familiar – A hodge-podge of HBO fight commentary and snippets from the HBO 24/7 pre-event specials

I felt that the book changed tone at the last chapter detailing Pacquiao’s political career. In contrast to previous chapters which were full of the warrior’s spirit, respect for opponents and praying for the health of his fallen foes, I felt this chapter was full of bluster and at times, arrogance. There was a sort of messianic vibe about the common Pac-man going about to rid his constituents from where he came from of corruption. The vibe soon dies a few paragraphs later where Pacman casually says something about “getting into his bullet-proof, bomb-proof Hummer.” [snicker] The conclusion of this chapter where he wins as Congressman of Sarangani, in my opinion, borderline slander, of the losing candidate, Chiongbian. Not only does Pacquiao gloat about his landslide victory but he also peppers the narrative with words like “corrupt businessman looking to line their own pockets”. You won already! No need to rub salt on Chiongbian’s wounds!

What’d I think about the book? I feel it’s what a Jerry Bruckheimer published book would read like. There’s a little “suspension of disbelief” and “leave your brain at the door” element to really enjoy the book. If you can believe that Manny really wrote the book, it’s a really entertaining read and a great gift for any fan of the “Pambansang Kamao”.

This book made me want to get my hands on that Freddie Roach biography. I’d also like to see a Tagalog version of this book that may have more masculine and direct language than the english (assumed) translation.

No doubt about it, Pacman’s a great fighter. The book is yet another testament to his guts and determination to get to a point where the world discovers his natural talent.

Let me wrap up with something from the last two paragraphs of the book.

“Now, I’m asked if my congressional seat is just one more stepping stone to someday becoming president of the Philippines. I won’t shut that door. I know I’ll never forget the moment Bob (Arum) burst into my room to tell me, ‘You won, Mr. Congressman!” He also did a nice little dance, which isn’t Bob’s way.

I guess this news stunned even him. Maybe one day, Bob will burst through my door and say, ‘Congratulations, Mr. President!'”

I admit I cringed when I read this. Only time will tell whether the reader should have approached this passage with delight… or dread.