Manny Pacquiao may be the world’s boxing king, wily and strong inside the ring–outside of the squared arena, however, he has weaknesses. The man just wants to please everybody, to a fault. He can be gullible. And in the corporate world where he now dwells both as a hot commodity and businessman, he is a kid in a big man’s world.
ABS-CBN is the most trying hard media entity in the Philippines. It used to be the number one broadcast network until its arrogance and bullying tactics allowed the smaller outfit, GMA, to overtake it in the ratings. Attribute it to the network’s “competitive” bent, but ABS-CBN has no qualms using underhanded tactics–like pirating of talents–just to gain ascendancy over its competitors.
When ABS-CBN and Pacquiao got embroiled in a controversy over contract issues lately, one should not be surprised that the boxer was placed at the losing end. Pacquiao is currently training for his fight with Britain’s Ricky Hatton in May, but he is being hounded by criticisms and insults hurled by those who are either ignorant of the details of the controversy or are blinded to their loyalty to ABS-CBN.
At the center of the controversy is Dyan Castillejo, whose dogged pursuit of the Pacquiao coverage earned her the ire of many of her colleagues. She wiggles into the middle of every Pacquiao activity, and is able to do so only because of Pacquiao’s inherent goodness and refusal to hurt the sensitivity of other people.
By the words of Manny and his lawyer Jeng Gacal, it was Castillejo who tried to lure the champ into linking up with ABS-CBN for the Philippine coverage of his fight with Hatton even if he has a live contract with Solar Sports, a small broadcast firm. Castillejo, of course, presumably acted merely as messenger to her bosses.
There’s no doubt ABS-CBN knows how to use a person’s weakness to the firm’s advantage. Pacquiao, by talking with ABS-CBN people without his legal counsel, was expectedly at the losing end of the bargain. He gobbled the suggestions and intrigues fed into him, like the claim that Solar Sports did not pay him well. Gacal said Manny was also promised support for his congressional bid in 2010.
We know what happened. ABS-CBN prematurely (by Manny’s claim) announced that it snagged the right to cover the Pacquiao-Hatton, informing the public about Pacquiao’s transfer with much fanfare. Solar Sports reacted by threatening to sue Pacquiao and ABS-CBN. Solar’s partner in the coverage of Paquiao fights in the country, GMA, entered into the fray (Manny is an exclusive star of GMA for the showbiz side of his manifold talent).
When Pacquiao eventually realized his naivete and upheld his contract with Solar Sports, which was the right thing to do, ABS-CBN went on the offensive by making it appear it was the boxer who initiated talks with the network to discuss his transfer. ABS-CBN top gun Gabby Lopez talked about ethics, as if it could rein in the profit motive that is the guiding force of capitalism.
I pity Pacquiao for the battering he is now receiving. I agree he also has his own faults, but these are not as big as the ones committed by ABS-CBN on this issue. I just hope the distraction won’t lead to Pacquiao’s defeat to Hatton come May.