By Nick Giongco
Manny Pacquiao remained on cloud nine even after delivering his speech on Monday afternoon (early Tuesday in Manila) at Oxford University in England.
“Truly an unforgettable experience,” Pacquiao said after facing the distinguished members of the esteemed university at the Frewin Court where many of world history’s most iconic figures took center stage as well.
In a speech titled “Dreams Do Come True,” Pacquiao narrated his humble beginnings and the hardships he faced before becoming one of world sports’ leading legends.
“I have fought some of the best fighters in history. And yet I have to admit, as I stand before you, I am intimidated when I think of the kind of main event headliners who faced you over the years: Sir Winston Churchill, American Presidents (Ronald) Reagan (Richard) Nixon and (Jimmy) Carter, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Sir Elton John,” said Pacquiao, who is boxing’s only eight-division world champion.
“When I received your gracious invitation, I asked myself, ‘what could I talk about that could possibly interest you? What could Manny Pacquiao say that would be of any impact, much more utility, to the men and women who enjoy the highest standards of instruction at Oxford?’
“The answer came fast: I know what I should speak about, something very few among you can claim to know about: my education, certainly non-traditional, non-formal, largely unstructured. I will call it my education in the Open University of Life.”
Pacquiao would then mesmerize his select audience with tales of despair and depression during his visits to typhoon-ravaged and war-torn locales such as Tacloban after Haiyan(Yolanda) and Marawi City after the military takeover.
“If you ignore the odds against you…and as you are taught here at this magnificent institution – never, ever quit. Think of David and Goliath. Look at me. I am not very big and I never had five smooth stones to throw at any obstacle, but determination is a power tool. I won a lot fights,” he said.
Obviously slighted by criticisms about his lack of education, Pacquiao insists that he has something other politicians cannot boast of having.
“I do not fault anyone who views me as singularly ill-equipped for this role. Instead, I ask: Is there anyone more knowledgeable than this humble civil servant about the hardships incident to the way of life of majority of our people? Who among my colleagues has faced poverty face-to-face from birth? Whose life’s work has it been to battle illiteracy?”
“In crafting effective laws, there is no better guide than the pulse of the masses. I may not have financial acuity. I may not be historically fluent. I may not even be socially adept. But I am philosophically rooted in my personal adversities, which morally bind me to the general struggle of our people.”
Pacquiao, booked to return to the ring on January 19 next year in Las Vegas, called on everyone in attendance to keep the faith.
“Miracles do happen. Dreams do come true…You, with your education, determination, and faith you can change the world,” he concluded.
Before returning to Manila, Pacquiao will pay homage to another revered academic institution: Cambridge.