Filipino boxing champ and, now, candidate for a Senate seat in this year’s elections in the Philippines Manny Pacquiao has drawn ire from various quarters after issuing what has been described as “barbaric” views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Pacquiao cited his “religious background” as grounds for not supporting this lifestyle in an interview with election coverage channel Bilang Pilipino.
Top Hollywood celebrity blogger Perez Hilton quickly picked up the story and featured transcripts of the video translated in English. This one pretty much summarises Pacquiao’s key message: “Woman was made for man, man was made for woman. It’s common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish, male or female.” Hilton also quotes Pacquiao going further with this bizarre train of thought: “If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animal.” On that, Hilton issues this indictment:
UGH.Look, if your religious beliefs prevent you from accepting same-sex marriage, that’s on you. That’s YOUR idea of propriety.But there’s absolutely no call to demonize and denigrate gay people by comparing them to animals just because their love is something YOU’RE unable to accept.The sad thing here is that Pacquiao is world famous and a national hero as a boxer, so we can only guess he’ll win his election to the Senate pretty easily — and then spread this awful attitude around within his country.
The video also drew howls of protest from Netizens subscribed to the Bilang Pilipino Facebook page where the video is also posted. People from various backgrounds — even whilst taking opposite positions on the issue — were unanimous in condemning Pacquiao’s regard for homosexuals as being “worse than animal” [sic].
Page subscriber Jonraye Robert Yacob commented “I am also against same sex marriage, BUT the way Manny explained his opinion via this interview is VERY WRONG.”
Unfortunately, views like this do not diminish top celebrities like Pacquiao in the eyes of his tens of millions of fans in the Philippines. For that matter his fans likely do not care what he thinks, both as a boxer and as a legislator. Indeed, a profound confusion persists amongst Filipino voters over what the job of a legislator really is. Thanks to a tradition of patronage politics that is greased by hundreds of millions of pesos in pork barrel funds doled out by the Office of the President of the Philippines to individual solons presumably to fund their respective pet “projects”, the notion of legislators as “law makers” has become muddled with the way they’ve been pitched to voters as “heroes” holding wads of cash to throw about.
As such, the idea that Pacquiao is a total failure in his job as a legislator simply does not resonate amongst Filipino voters. It is therefore likely that Pacquiao will go on to win a seat in the Philippine Senate in this year’s elections nonetheless — despite holding on to what the Philippines’ “civil society” regard as primitivist views on sexual orientation. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Pacquiao mirrors the character of the society that is an accessory to his ascent to political power. He is, after all, an elected official and, as such, a product of the Filipino people.
In that sense, perhaps this most recent episode should be a prompt for Filipinos to evaluate their own collective character and reflect on the confronting realities of why their society routinely produces politicians like Manny Pacquiao.