The Man Who Made His Last Sting Before Floating Like a Butterfly: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali

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It was Saturday morning here in Manila when I first saw a link posted on Bleacher Report’s Facebook page that Muhammad Ali is in his critical state. Later that day, I was on my laptop trying to find inspiration for something to write and I was thinking of a way express my true feelings to someone, until I switched on our TV and streamed on the channels then I saw a headline on Aljazeera that says “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali has already passed away.

The next day, I didn’t really know how to react towards the photo that Michael J. Fox posted on his Twitter account, in which he wore a boxing gear posing as if he is about to punch Ali, while Muhammad Ali was just standing defending himself by holding his head. Basically it shows two people battling Parkinson’s disease but unfortunately, the other just ended his fight.

 

I was not born yet when Muhammad Ali proclaimed that he is “The Greatest” and also when he said the immortal words “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee” in an interview while he is at the gym — training. And I was not born yet when he beat Sonny Liston and George Foreman in different occasion and even when he lost to Joe Frazier especially when he beat Frazier in ‘Thrilla in Manila’ held at the Araneta Coliseum on October 1, 1975.

As a kid growing up, I got to know Muhammad Ali as a fighter that a gamer can play in Fight Night on PS2 or Xbox. It didn’t matter to me if I win or lose with Muhammad Ali, because back then, my only goal was to make a good hurl of combos and give that knockout punch.

 

As I grew up, I got to know more about Muhammad Ali, as more than just a game character that you get to play in a video game or watch in a highlight reel on YouTube from his best fights against Liston, Foreman and Frazier. Because like Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther Kingmuhammad_ali_dr._king_ap_img; he was also an advocate of civil rights during the civil rights movement, in and out of the ring.

 

In his prime and the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, his sporting counterparts in each sporting league in North America were also fighting for their rights and not just climbing their way up.

 

Jackie Robinson is starting to pave the pave way for African-Americans to join professional sporting leagues, breaking baseball’s color barrier in April of 1947 when he was called by then Brooklyn Dodgers to play in the Major League. But this won’t be as steady as it seemed.

In those days, African-American a basketball player like Bill Russell had to play his best in both ends of the court and if it wasn’t for Boston Celtics legendary head coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics may not have built that Celtic dynasty from the1950s to the 1960s, and many others would soon follow in each sport and in each decade that came by.

 

It has been said that he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, because he does want to be involved in a war that America should not have fought. Since America was fighting the threat that is communism at that time. Sooner or later America ended up losing lives until it gave up in the early 1970s.

Ali paid the price for his refusal which cost him his world title and he was prohibited from fighting, until he got the green light to fight again then eventually reclaim the title that was deprived of him.

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The meeting of top African-American athletes in June 1967. Seated from the left most side; Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, “The Greatest”, Cleveland Browns’ running back Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was then Lew Alcindor an undergraduate and playing basketball for the UCLA Bruins.

Muhammad Ali is a larger-than-life figure. He is beyond sports.

He did not just inspire fighters that wanted to fight like him and become world heavyweight champion. Muhammad Ali is a life coach himself and we just don’t know it. Even if we do not hire his services, just like how Bruce Lee is often quoted for saying “Be water, my friend” or how others also quote Biblical verses.

Ali and his quotes serve as motivation in all aspects. More important is that it leads us to a certain perspective that we must understand the best way that we can.

 

The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

As an aspiring writer, I try my best to imagine, and create ideas for me to get that wings Muhammad Ali speak of.

I do not just want to write with what I’m really capable of doing right now, since I started writing for this WordPress account. I try my best with my best friend and former EIC to start up ideas, and be able to write short stories that I hope to finish for a certain season later this year.

More important is that we must imagine something that would really give meaning to our lives for us to fly with those wings.

 

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

True enough because Muhammad Ali as boxer has already maximized that. As a humanitarian he has done more than enough through for the marginalized anywhere in the world that made his stay worthwhile. Most important is the help that he provided in finding the cure for Parkinson’s disease.

As ordinary people, no matter what the line of work is, we must serve everyone to the best of our abilities so we can really make our stay on earth truly great.

 

“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

In connection with the previous quote, we must always have a different view of the world as we grow old so we can truly pay for our rent here on earth.

We should not just view the world differently at fifty simply because we aged and reached that particular age. We must always change our views or perspective. So we cannot waste the remaining years that we have before some of us reach fifty.

I’m twenty seven years away from fifty. I do not just want to waste my time and life by writing for this website. Because there will come a time, that I may have to stop and do something else. In which I have to discover for myself along the way.

 

“I know where I am going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

This quote from The Greatest just brought me back to the moment when I was deciding on what I really want to take up before I set foot on college. Also in deciding on what I really want to study in college. Then my issue of shifting or transition from being a psychology major to journalism major.

Other than that, this is also standing up for what you really know is right. It’s giving one’s self that freedom on what they really wanted to be. Or what really want to do with their life.

This is also reflective of how Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali when he decided to change his spiritual belief to Islam in the early sixties. Another is his decision not to join the army after he was drafted for Vietnam.

Lastly, the truth in that quote is that Ali’s war is in the ring, not in Vietnam. More important according him, Cassius Clay is his slave name and as a citizen of a free country like the United States, he had the freedom of changing his spiritual and political belief.

 

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

He did take a risk and again it’s his decision not to join the army after the draft.

He is more than courageous to trash talk before and after his fights, because his fighting style truly back up his trash talk.

He is the grand daddy of trash talking I must say.

The trash talks of UFC fighter Connor McGregor to undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (vice-versa) in any medium are nothing. Even Baron Geisler’s trash talk towards Kiko Matos here in the Philippines,  whether it is scripted or not are nothing to what Ali has said to anyone that he has fought throughout his career.

With all the trash talk that he has said, he did accomplish a lot in the ring.

 

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

I was not really going to include this because it’s overly used, like some song to become a soundtrack for a movie.

Ali truly lived up to these words because of his hand speed, agility, and footwork that many have tried to replicate particularly, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Unlike Mayweather Jr., Ali does not give a lot of hugs the way Mayweather Jr. does when he fought Manny Pacquiao until his last fight. More important is the punching power.

This quote is not only applicable in the context of sports particularly boxing and mixed martial arts. This quote can also be applicable to any team sport like basketball and volleyball. For teams to have that Muhammad Ali state of mind, of course not to the point where players also have to do the trash talking and punching towards their opponent in each game.

Outside sports, we can apply this towards love for both boys and girls. Who seemed to look like wallflowers then one day they become dressed so good, and so beautiful that you can’t recognize them.

That’s really floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

 

With that, may he inspire more people not only people who dream to become world champion in any sport but also in all aspects of life.

 

REST IN POWER

ali1

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MULA SA INIT NG AKING ULO

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Panahon na naman ng tag-init.

Kung babae ka panigurado inggit ka na naman sa mga kaibigan mong nagpupuntahan sa ibang bansa o probinsya at nakakapag island hopping sa kung saan-saan at pinagyayabang yong mga beach bodies nila para makahakot ng sankaterbang likes tapos ikaw hindi mo mapag yabang yong pinag hirapan mong beach body sa kabila ng pagiging member mo ng Gold’s Gym o kaya’y Fitness First. Malas mo na lang kung may stalker ka na kinu kunan na ng screen shot ang mga bikini photos mo. Malas niyo din kasi kung may siyota ka na macho, wala kayong mapakiusapan sa mga kaibigan niyo kung sino sa kanila ang pwedeng maging third wheel kahit sinabe niyo pa na sagot niyo ang ticket sa eroplano hanggang sa accommodation niya. Higit sa lahat, hindi ka rin makapag post nang  ‘SORRY ANG INIT’ kasi wala ka nga sa beach.

Kung lalaki ka malamang kasing tigang mo na yong palayan ng mga kamag anak mo sa probinsya dahil matagal ka nang hindi nakakainom ng beer. Dumi ng isip niyo ha.

Panahon din para pigilan ang sarili sa pag post ng comment at pagtawanan sila nang wala kang tina type sa device mo.

Huwag ka mainggit sa mga kaibigan o kakilala mo na nagpa pagala-gala o nagbabakasyon na ngayong panahon ng tag-init kasi hindi rin naman sila ang mismong gumagastos ng mga out-of-town na yon. Lalu na kung nabibilang sila sa isang pamilya na nakaka angat sa buhay. Magdalawang isip at maalarma ka kung nakasakay siya sa yacht tapos naka bikini pa.

At kung hampas lupa ka na nakatunganga lang sa bahay o kaya naman ay napilitan mag summer class dahil bumagsak ka sa ganitong subject, matutong makontento sa buhay at huwag mainggit dahil lang nandun sa lugar na ‘yon. Kasalanan mo din kasi kung bakit ka bumagsak at nagpalit ng course.

 

Sa kasalukuyan panahon na kung saan paunti-unti na nagbabago ang mga akademikong kalendaryo at sistema ng mga paaralan sa Pilipinas wala na rin talaga tayong karapatan mag reklamo at mag post sa mga social media account natin na kailangan niyong magbakasyon dahil silang mga pumapasok sa pamantasan na nagbago ng sistema tinitiis yong init dahil nagbayad sila ng malaking tuition sa pamantasan na ‘yon. At sa mga eskuwelahan na nagpalit ng mga akademikong kalendaryo nila, awang-awa ako sa mga mag-aaral ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman dahil may mga estudyante sila na malayo pa ang mga pinang gagalingan na lugar at kailangan tiisin at bunoin ang pang araw-araw na trapiko kung galing sila south sa area o parteng Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, at kung saan pa dahil na rin wala na silang mapag lagyan sa mga dormitoryo sa loob ng UP at may kamahalan din ang upa. Mala slang din nila dahil wala silang mga kamag anak na naka tira malapit lamang sa Diliman at ganon din walang maupahan na dorm dahil nga mahal.

Awang-awa din ako sa mga mag-aaral ng De La Salle University pati sa mga mag-aaral ng College of St. Benilde lalu sa mga estudyante na nagmumula pa sa hilagang bahagi ng Metro Manila tulad ng Sampaloc sa Maynila partikular sa kapatid ko. Pati na rin sa mga estudyante nilang umuuwi pa ng Quezon City dahil ayaw nila mag aral sa Ateneo, UP kahit UST dahil sa kaartehan na hindi maipaliwanag. Naaawa rin ako sa mga magulang na hindi afford o mag bayad ng umupa sa dorm upang mapadali ang pagpunta at pagpasok sa mga nasabing paaralan ngunit napag aral ang mga anak sa nasabing paaralan at naiinis ako sa mga estudyante at mga propesor na may lakas pa ng loob magmaneho at magparada ng mga sasakyan sa kahabaan ng Taft. LECHE!

Para sa mga mag-aaral ng Ateneo de Manila na nagmamaneho, SIGE DRIVE LANG. Akala niyo nabibigyan niyo nang solusyon yong mga pang sariling problem niyo sa trapik, HINDE. Tumingin nga kayo sa salamin at sabihin at mag-isip ng mabuti. MAHAL PA NAMAN DIN ANG MATRIKULA SA INYO.

Para naman sa mga mag-aaral ng University of Santo Tomas sa first sem niyo problema niyo baha tas pagdating ng second sem init ng panahon pero tiis lang din sa mga summer uniforms niyo. Mabuti hindi sapilitan ang pagsuot ng mga regular college uniform niyo.

Sa sobrang init din naman ng panahon kasalanan din natin kasi taga lang tayo ng taga, sibak lang ng sibak ng mga punong kahoy, wala nang mga puno na nagpapahina ng singaw ng hangin ika nga ng professor ko sa Environmental Science at yong mga pabrika sige lang sa pagpapakawala ng mga usok at mga kemikal sa Ilog Pasig. Mas nakakabadtrip pa nga ngayon ang summer kung tutuusin dahil sumabay pa ang panahon ng kampanya at may mga kalsadang napipilitan ipasara upang makapag pasagawa ng mga campaign rally ang mga kandidato sa local level at gumagawa ng paraan upang makapang uto ng mga taong hindi pa nakakapag desisyon kung sino ang kanilang iboboto sa araw ng halalan.

Mayor Erap at dating mayor Lim na kumakandidato ulit sa pagka mayor, salamat nga pala ng marami sa trapik noong Marso pati na rin ay Grace Poe.

 

May nauso pala na hashtag na #LaBoracay na pagdating ng May 1 lahat ng mga taong trip lang magbikini, magpakita ng abs at kung ano pa ay pumaparty na parang mga loko-loko sa Boracay tapos magiging sobrang kalat pagkatapos.

Grabe lang.

Kaya yong isa kong professor na lumaki sa Boracay dahil probinsya niya yon, nababadtrip nang umuwi dahil wala na yong Boracay na kinalakihan niya. Nakakalungkot lang. Ang saklap rin para sa akin dahil ang una at huling bisita ko ng Boracay kasama ng pamilya ko, Pasko pa tapos yon na din ang mga panahon na ang sama na nang dating ng Boracay. Nakakainis lang din na may kapal sila nang mukha at lakas nang loob para makapag post ng mga itsura nilang mga walwal at kung sino na ang kaakbay at kung ano na rin ang nahahawakan.

Pinagsi siksikan ang mga sarili sa Boracay para lang sa hashtag na #LaBoracay samantalang pwede naman sila pumunta sa ibang mga beach tulad ng Coron sa Palawan, Canigao sa Leyte, Pagudpod sa may bandang Ilocos, Nasugbu sa may Batangas at marami pang iba na pwedeng puntahan.

 

Yong mga tao naman dito sa Metro Manila, yong mga hindi nakatira sa mga subdivision makapag set up lang nang mga inflatable na swimming pool masaya na at kontento na para sa mga bata. Yong mga matatanda o kaya magulang, beer at yelo lang sapat na. Yong pulutan inihaw na bangus may kasama pang inihaw na baboy. NAKAKAGUTOM DI BA?

Para naman sa katulad ko, nakakaasar lang din dahil lahat ng mga magagandang superhero movies naglalabasan kung kailan wala akong sapat na ipon. PUSANG GALA NAMAN OH! Swerte ko lang din talaga noong kainitan pa ng Star Wars: The Force Awakens dahil nakapag ipon talaga ako nang pang nood.

Sobrang dami din ng mga superhero movie, nawawalan na rin ang iba ng interes sa mga contemporary films kahit mga biographic films gaya ko na kinain na din ng sistema. Ang sistema ng mga superhero movies. Pero di ko naman minamasama ang mga superhero movies na naglalabasan ngayon dahil karamihan naman talaga sa mga pelikulang ito ay inilaan sa mga panatiko ng mga comic books at mismong mga bata.

 

INIT LANG TO NG ULO KO. MAKALIGO NA NGA LANG PARA LUMALIG ANG ULO. PERO MAS MASARAP ANG PAKIRAMDAM KUNG SA BAGUIO AKO MALILIGO TAPOS HINDI AKO UUWI NANG MAYNILA at kung may pera lang din ako, boboto muna ako dito dahil rehistrado ako dito tsaka ako aakyat ng Baguio. Miss ko na rin ang scenery ng Camp John Hay pati yong Strawberry Fields nila.

For Name’s Sake!

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Courtesy of TV5’s YouTube channel, tv5theeveningnews.

Don’t you just hate it when the professor does not pronounce your name right on the first day of school? Or don’t you just hate it when your name is long that one part of your name only gets called by anyone you know? More important, don’t you just wish that you would have a common Filipino last name with a Hispanic touch like Blanco, Castillo, Castro, Chavez, Gonzales (sometimes with a letter Z), Guevara, Guerrero, Gutierrez, Flores, Fuentes, de la Cruz, Cruz, Reyes, Rivera, de los Reyes, Vergara or whatever last name that can be pronounced easily with a Hispanic descent.

 

Most of the time we just let people like teachers like professors go on with pronouncing our name LIKE THAT because we’re too tired of correcting and telling them how it is really pronounced since the beginning of our lifetime. Sometimes I want to write the phonetic spelling of my last name for people to really understand but again I’m too tired. These are moments in school where you just want to call upon the spirit of your ancestors just to spook the living daylights out of the person mispronouncing or misspelling your name. You’re just lucky to have professors who would have the courtesy to momentarily pause and ask if they are pronouncing your name correctly. This is why some females can’t wait to get married so that their maiden names would be replaced by their future husband’s name. Can you just imagine Miss Universe Philippines 2011, Shamcey Supsup’s thoughts at the back of her head when she got married?

When I was in third grade, I felt so low when my last name was cussed by some guy named Mendoza and I would always get his crap at the school bus regardless whether if we were going to school or going home from school. It really sucks to look back to those moments. I just hope he’s not in a relationship to a woman with a name that screeches when someone scratches a blackboard and when they get married I hope they don’t name their children with names that give an emphasis to the letter H like Dhaniel or Khatryn.

During the latter years of my high school, I’m just lucky to have friends and teachers who really know how to pronounce my last name. When I got into college I’m more than lucky to have professors who really know how to nail it on the first day of class giving you that empowering moment.

Sometimes if you have a friend with a foreign last name like a Filipino-American or Filipino-German friend. You would have a hard time pronouncing their last name that you would just call them by their nickname or first name.

 

When it comes to my first name Enrique, I really don’t know if I’m lucky to be named after businessman Enrique Zobel de Ayala because it sounds good but as my parents would tell me, I am not named after the patriarch of the Ayala group but according to my father. The name Enrique means man of the house in which I have yet to live by since I’m not yet a family man.

As for my last name Agcaoili, my ancestry is Ilocano but I barely visit Ilocos Norte and barely speak the dialect of my ancestors. One of the people I know who had a hard time with our last name is my father’s cousin and my uncle overseas because on the day of his son’s moving up day, the school’s photographer misspelled our family name by spelling AGIAOLI instead of AGCAOILI and as I type this, I begin to think how my uncle struggled to correct some of the people when he was growing up.

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Couresy of Glen Agcaoili

 

As for me, lucky for me back to the day of my high school graduation as I got my high school diploma I immediately checked if the school misspelled my last name and lucky for me they did not misspell my last name! I was ready to sue the school. My batch mate was also ready to sue the school if they misspelled his family name.

 

I have attended baptisms in which I have seen and heard of names that are amusing and cringe worthy.

In one baptism that I attended, I have seen a baby baptized by the name of CHRISTOPHER REEVE and I kid you not because I overheard the priest who blessed the kid joke to the parents saying, “Is this kid Superman?” In another baptism I have seen a baby baptized by the name of RIHANNA AVRIL. The mother must have been a fan of both Avril Lavigne and Rihanna.

I can’t remember the most bizarre name that any parent could give to their child. But if there’s one name, it’s from what I read in Lourd de Veyra’s book one of “This Is A Crazy Planets” in which he mentioned that he has a friend who named their child Axl in honor of the Guns N’ Roses vocalist, Axl Rose who is born by the name of William Bailey. Another that he mentioned in his book was a friend who named their child STALIN which is deemed unacceptable for a first name by the Catholic Church because even before the start of World War II, Joseph Stalin of the USSR (present day Russia) has killed more people than Hitler. A moment in their history that historians called, The Great Purge.

 

I have met and known people who have the most unconventional names that their nicknames are a far cry from their given name. I have also met someone with a name so colorful that you just have to control yourself from asking ‘why is your name like that?’

I know someone with a name so long that we just call her Nikki and her mom with a name so traditional we just call her Tita Mamu. Another person that I know with a nickname that is a far cry from his birth name is my uncle we call Tito Toti and his birth name is really Gonzalo and my cousin his son nicknamed Ian is also a far cry from his birth name Lemuel.

I have met people with names so traditional that you just keep your mouth shut because it might just be a family tradition to pass on someone the elder’s name. Like in our family, the elders passed on the name Oscar beginning with my late great grandfather to his youngest son then passed on the Oscar that ended with my father.

I have met someone with a name so old that I don’t know if his parents named him after Castro the revolutionary and Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s best friend or that other revolutionary who also donned a tobacco who jumped on EDSA then became president of the Philippines in 1992.

The funniest story that I know with regard to first names being passed on is a family in the Visayas or Mindanao region with a last name that goes by the family name of Nueve which they pass on the name Enrique from Enrique I to VIII and by the time another masculine child was about to be born, again they named it Enrique. So the child goes by the name Enrique Nueve IX which is redundant by having the Spanish translation of the number nine next to the Roman numeral namesake.

Some of those names are bound by tradition or fanaticism. I almost forgot about Eddie Gutierrez’s son named Elvis who keeps a low profile despite being the son of Monster Manager Annabelle Rama and brother of Ruffa, Richard and Raymond. It’s no secret in Philippine Entertainment and pop culture that Eddie Gutierrez is a big fan of Elvis Presley which is truly visible in his hairstyle from his younger days to portraying kingpin roles in the late ‘80s to the ‘90s and matapobre roles in soap operas.

The funny thing about names for me is keeping a pattern for the children that they name. One example is a letter pattern where one couple will only name their child with one letter from the alphabet like the letter A like Arthur then the next child will be named Arnold. Another example is the letter R like the Santiago brothers namely Rowell, Randy and Raymart Santiago. Another thing that I find funny in names is children’s name that is a combination of their parents’ names. I wish I could give an example but that would mean expulsion if she gets to read this.

 

Years from now, I don’t know if I will get married or not. I don’t even know who will be the lucky girl that’s going to marry me but if I do get married, I’m just going to invite a few friends and relatives. When it’s time for my wife to give birth, I would name my masculine child Rafael then if she gives birth to a baby girl, I would beg my wife to name that child Rafaella naming them after my favorite Ninja Turtle and the closest priest that I know that truly makes me feel at home in Letran.

 

So for the women who are madly in love right now with the man they fell for, I hope you are not just going to marry the man in the future because you love them and you don’t care if he’s rich or not. Think of what will be your last name and yourwould be child or children. As for parents who are about to have their children, make sure their name is worth writing in their birth certificate and please don’t make it hard for the nurse, city registrar or NSO officer to spell your child’s name. Help them out and don’t make them assume the spelling of the child’s name.