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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 15, 2016
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

The Manny and Kobe parallels

Ninfa Leonardia Somehow, I can see a parallel between the careers of our own Manny Pacquiao, and the National Basketball Association's Kobe Bryant, both of whom announced their retirement from their sport recently. Last week, Pacquiao announced to the world in interviews after his classic fight with American Tim Bradley, that he was leaving boxing. Also last week, the famous NBA athlete, Kobe Bryant announced his retirement and said that the game between Lakers and the Jazz was to be his swan song.

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Didn't Pacquiao also announce that the Bradley encounter was to be the final one in his 20 years of boxing? It seems Bryant also played basketball for as many years. And, as Manny stuck to promoter Bob Arum and Freddie Roach along his way to fame, Kobe also stuck to the Los Angeles Lakers that he considered his home team, and played his last at the Staples Center, home of the Lakers. Kobe Bryant has been awarded as most valuable player so many times, and Pacquiao has earned eight different titles in his heyday.

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Yesterday, I watched a replay of his game against the Toronto Raptors in a very exciting exchange that showed the Raptors winning in his first half, leading by as many as 15 points at times. And then the magical hand of Kobe Bryant began tossing the ball from anywhere through long shots, close shots, under the net shots, causing consternation among the Raptors. As the game went on, the crowd could no longer sit down, they were all – especially the hometown crowd – on their feet, cheering and shouting. With 22 seconds left, Kobe managed to clinch the game with 81 points in all, to his name! The final scores were 122-104 – and if Kobe had not been there, would the Lakers have shot only 44?

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Another way in which they are similar is that both have monickers – Manny is known as “The Pacman” and Kobe “The Black Mamba”. The Mamba is a python in Africa known for its deadly venom. In an interview later, I saw Kobe's eyes welling with tears as he confirmed his exit from the sport. Perhaps he was thinking of the rapturous, raucus and exultant cheers of his admirers and fellow athletes as he exited the court. Just as Pacquiao must have kept to himself his longing for the sport that had not only brought him honor and riches, but also pride to his country.

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From boxing and basketball, we return to the more grisly and cruel sport that is politics. Candidate Rodrigo Duterte has challenged an opponent, Vice President Jejomar Binay to a debate, just between the two of them. So far, we have not heard about the latter's response. Will he accept? This was reportedly due to Binay's act of calling Duterte a “berdugo (executioner)” of people. Duterte shot back, calling him a “berdugo of people's money”. Will Binay, bite? I very much doubt it, as clever as he is. I don't think he can match Duterte's one liners and sarcasm. But who knows? Pride might change his mind.

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The news nowadays continues to focus on charges and penalties for government officials who had made free with government money during their terms of office, and I believe this will warn incoming ones of the hazards of taking advantage of one's position. The country will have a lot to owe Madame Conchita Carpio Morales, who has not allowed threats or intimidations to sway her from her duty. When one compares her to past officials occupying that position, one can only thank President PNoy for having the instincts that made him choose her.

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One of the latest to be penalized is the former mayor of Bukan, Bartolome Sacia who, together with the town treasurer, has been meted the penalty of 10 to 18 years imprisonment by the Sandiganbayan, were fined P5 million each, and perpetually disqualified from public office. This was because they issued a check for medical supplies without supporting vouchers, no advice from the accountant, and also no proof of delivery. That, for P5 million only! What a price to pay.

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Have you noticed that there are only 25 more days left before we go to the polls and cast our votes for the people we want to lead us? In these remaining days, let us think about the personalities of those we will be voting for, and determine whether they are of the kind who may also land in the dishonorable list of officials who will not only be charged, but also condemned and meted penalties, by the Ombudsman the Sandiganbayan, and the regular courts. Taking chances with those who are already facing dreadful charges will be a big risk – as we might end up with officials who may get convicted and spend their terms in prison!*

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