What It Means to Have People Buzz Over Some Filipino Guy Being the Center of Mainstream Media Attention

You feel that you kinda "fit in."  That you're the "in thing" at least for one hot night. 

Manny Pacquiao is 1/2 of what is expected to be the the "richest fight" in history, though he's only going to get 40% of the purse when he finally fights Floyd Mayweather on May 2. 

I've written about the "meaning" of Manny Pacquiao.

After a childhood of looking to black Americans in the media as a rough model for "how to be" (something heavily referenced on the new ABC show Fresh Off the Boat), it has been thoroughly vindicating seeing someone who looks like he might be someone you actually know be a center of mainstream media attention.  It's one thing that he's one of us AND talented, it's another thing that he's one of us, talented, AND acknowledged by mainstream media.

For Filipinos, he's been everything.  Every night that Manny has had a fight since around 2004 has been a rallying/gathering point for many Filipino-Filipino-Americans all across our diaspora.  His fights have been their own holiday/reason enough for a party, regardless of religion, political views, etc. 

I've watched his fights at friends' family's houses, friends of friends houses, streamed it online, etc.  I've monitored Facebook and social media after those fights.  I've seen the gamut of reactions from a gamut of people, young, old, big, small.  I've seen friends and aunties get almost cocky and boasty after Pacquiao's delivered a knockout blow.  I've seen the exhultations, exhilerations, and failures. 

He hasn't lost much, but the last one he did to Juan Manuel Marquez, some aunties were actually crying at the fact that he got knocked out. I myself delivered my own expletive-filled and borderline reactionary racist rant after the fight, with Mexican friends and Mexican wife around.  I'm glad that no one was uploaded any video of that reaction.

If it weren't for his vicious left hook, Manny "looks" like he could be the one of the drunk uncles kicking back at a family party.  He could be the Filipino guy with his family you see at church (if only he was Catholic).  I can tell you that unless you were the relatives of Ernie Reyes Jr. or Dante Basco, you'd probably never felt as related to someone in the media as you have Manny Pacquiao.

He's a figure who "feels" close to everywhere I go, everything I regularly do as a Filipino or Filipino-American residing in Los Angeles.  He "feels" like someone who is where I am, does what I do, and is still recognized for one thing he does pretty well.

Seeing him be a big figure in general feels like a big accomplishment than itself.  I personally feel that race and ethnicity don't even matter (even though this is why he has such a following.)  What I mean by this is that race and ethnicity don't matter in that he gets the mainstream media attention just like an attractive white lady can get the mainstream media attention, albeit I'd hazard that he worked harder than the average attractive white lady to get that attention.

The shelf life for any superstar athlete in the media is somewhat fleeting (though less so in the age of social media), and Manny has managed to keep the steam building for almost 10 years now.  I was amazed that Paris Hilton knew who he was.  Then came the praise from other pop figures from Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, and well, even Beyonce herself.  The idea that he is known and acknowledged make us also feel known and acknowledged.

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