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I was at my friend's house last Saturday night witnessing the Philippine star boxer, Will "Manny" Pacquiao defeat his opponent, thereby winning another title. AsianWeek dubbed Pacquiao the "Thrilla from Manila." As I began a conversation with my dad about the fight and how Pacquiao pulled a KO on Diaz, my dad informed me that prior to the fight, Pacquiao promised to donate all of his prize money to the victims of the recent natural disasters in the Philippines. No, not a percentage of his wins, but all of his wins. My dad said Pacquiao's already a millionaire, and he recognizes that there are others he can help.
Pacquiao has no doubt, taken the world of boxing, and more importantly, the Philippines, by storm. In fact, I was told that everything stops in the Philippines when Pacquiao has a fight. As I complained to my dad and his friend about Philippine President Arroyo's absence in the Philippines (she's been in the U.S.) during the recent floods, I noted, that perhaps if Pacquiao ran for office, he would win. Once again, my dad informed me that Pacquiao did in fact entertain the idea of running for public office as a means of improving the socioeconomic conditions in the Philippines, but he was advised that he would make greater change by working in the private sector and becoming a philanthropist. Based on the impact Pacquiao has made to address social concerns in his motherland, in contrast to the continued corruption and apathy of the Philippine government, there seems to be a significant amount of truth backing up the latter comment.
Nevertheless, we don't have to look very far to see how people in the private sector had addressed social justice issues where our government seems to fall short. Bill and Melinda Gates are a clear example with their foundation doing everything from helping disadvantaged students achieve their educational aspirations, to addressing global health concerns. Oprah Winfrey and her Angel Network have also provided aid to needy individuals and communities.
Despite historic examples of corruption, bureaucratic red tape, partisan issues, and other hinderances in government, I continue to believe that we can also make change happen through the public sector. Regardless of the outcome, the country has witnessed the significance of the youth vote as more young people, particularly those who have been relatively politically apathetic, are beginning to get involved as a result of being inspired by certain candidates. Thus, while we might not come out at the Pacquiao, Gates, or Oprah, making change through public service is still an option.