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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, June 15, 2012
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“After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser,” said Benjamin Franklin, whose wise sayings and wit teach us how to handle vicissitudes of life.

This wisdom is apt for Manny Pacquiao whose defeat by Timothy Bradley had caused such a stir that tons of paper had been written on, and hours of radio and television time had been spent to search for answers to the question, “what happened?”

Nobody knows really, not even Pacquiao or Bradley or their teams, except the three judges that many had called “blind” or who needed a good eye examination.

No matter the detailed dissections, however can really find an answer because even the judges are not talking unless probably when the Nevada State Commission pries loose the secrets, but considering the huge amount of money, I think nothing will resolve the issue until November 2012 when the answer will be irrelevant, maybe.

Before the start of the game, I noticed two missing “rituals” that Pacquiao followed in his previous fights. He used to take off the Holy Rosary and kiss it, went to his corner, knelt, made the sign of the Cross and prayed. When he finished he also made the sign of the cross.

This time he was not wearing the Holy Rosary, but a head band of a business product. I don’t know if you have seen or not, but after he knelt he did not make the sign of the Cross, prayed and stood up making the sign, but almost a reflex than his usual.

At that instant, I had the gut feeling he would lose.

He fought well and now we can’t understand why he lost. Footage shown to us in between rounds showed Pacquiao hitting Bradley hard and the group that joined us to see the fight thought he would knock down the guy by the 7th round, but Bradley stood like a rock.

What gave me the feeling that this defeat is a chastisement is borne by many incidents I know where people, families and their children had succeeded beyond expectation. They were close to God and His Blessed Mother, ordinary and model Catholics, and even men and women of the cloth who served the Church and were devoted in the observance of their faith.

Success clouded their priorities and eventually they fell victims to inducements from “preachers” who are adept in convincing the unwary to leave the Church. But not content and to prove their new loyalty, the converts would throw the holy images into the fire or the garbage cans. In one case I personally know, they burned the holy articles.

Slowly success and health flowed out of these people and in some occasions, there was demonic possession. But perhaps in consideration of this person’s previous devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Mother of Perpetual Help, God did not want this person to die of cancer without reconciliation.

I personally know this because the message of an agonizing soul was relayed to me by an inexplicable sign and I took the courage to ask the spouse, already in despair at the dying moment of a beloved person and went to get Redemptorist Fr. Lucey for help.

I will not narrate the hair-raising moment of that reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, but if you have seen the film “Exorcist” you will be able to imagine what it was, though in a less violent scene. The family returned to the faith and recovered from their bankruptcy.

I think that Pacquiao was confused when he entered the ring. Physically he was perfect. He trained well and long but he was a changed man, probably unable to comprehend the swirling of events in his mind.

He showed he is a Catholic and even attended a Mass that morning, but he was also speaking like a minister of another religious group, later identified as the Jesus is Lord Movement of Eddie Villanueva, the politician preacher whose following is known in this country. After the fight and a Mass, he joined the JIL Sunday worship. He is veering away.

Pacquiao now studies the Bible from a non-Catholic pastor and has joined a Bible study group whose religious affiliation I am not aware ofbut this has created in him a sudden surge of different religiosity. A US TV commentator noticed he was no longer expressive of his Catholic beliefs.

Was Pacquiao chastised? I don’t know and I don’t judge. But he must have read St. Peter’s second letter (3:17): As you have been warned, be careful lest those people who have gone astray deceive you in turn and drag you along, making you stumble and finally fall away.”

I won’t intrude into his beliefs but write an observation with dread that this might be a notice for Pacquiao to take heed.*

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