Manny Pacquiao and the LGBT Community

With Great Influence Comes Great Responsibility

As a Filipino-American who loves and respects Manny Pacquiao, I couldn’t help share my thoughts concerning the recent news about Philippines’ pride, World Boxing Champion, Manny Pacquiao who is now the focus of a global buzz and scrutiny regarding a highly controversial statement he released on Instagram regarding the LGBT community:

Manny Pacquiao Instagram LGBT Post

I have always respected Manny for his patriotism and love of his fans and I also understand his passion and conviction for his faith.  As a Brand Strategist, when I saw this video response from one of the most respected and most influential Filipino Celebrity Show Host, Boy Abunda and saw comments by other celebrities, I knew that this is just the beginning of a very messy situation which is potentially damaging to the Manny Pacquiao name and brand.

Here is one of the Philippines most respected celebrities, Boy Abunda’s response to Manny’s statement.  It’s mostly spoken in our native Tagalog but I’ve included the essence of what he shared in English below:

“Manny, who are you? Who are you to judge? Who gave you the power to call us worse than animals? We are talking about common sense. You are running for sentator? This is my question: Do you think I, our countrymen here in the studio, in their homes would vote for… [someone] who sees me as worse than an animal? Manny, the answer is, in your own words, ‘common sense.’

There is global media frenzy within hours and Manny immediately issued this apology, remaining steadfast on his statement, while reminding people that he loves everyone just the same:

Manny Pacquiao LGBT Instagram Apology

This couldn’t  have come at a worse time.  I am part of a team that is putting together an event to honor our National Hero at a red carpet event in Los Angeles before his final match in Las Vegas on April 9, 2016.  He’s also running for political office as a Philippines Senator, and this is the worst kind of negative publicity for him.

Now Celebrity Blogger Perez Hilton has also issued this statement on his blog.

What?! Why do people have to compare homosexuality to animals?! WHY??”

Look, if your religious beliefs prevent you from accepting same-sex marriage, that’s on you. That’s YOUR idea of propriety.

“But there’s absolutely no call to demonize and denigrate gay people by comparing them to animals just because their love is something YOU’RE unable to accept,” Perez said.

This is truly a sad day for the Philippines and Filipinos all around the world.  While I agree that Manny is definitely entitled to his own opinion, there is a very delicate line to cross between your values and your brand once you transcend that and become an icon, a legend, a hero to millions and he also has sentiments of support coming from all over the world:

Manny Pacquiao LGBT FB Comments

I am short of words to express how I’m feeling right now.  There’s so much sadness, shock, anger, disbelief all around traditional and social media.  I respect that we all have our views, and now that any of us is essentially our own microcosm of our own media domain, we are entitled to express whatever we want and however we want.  However, I also believe that once we get to a level of fame, we also need to have the awareness to use that fame responsibly and thoughtfully.

I am not sure if Manny has a Public Relations group that will help him weather this storm and I do pray that he does have one who will help the world make sense of what just happened.

I know eventually time heals all wounds… Unlike the Steve Harvey mistake at the Miss Universe 2015 Pageant, this could be more damaging than that mistake as Steve’s was perceived to be an accident, while this one was intentional and a larger more diverse group of people are hurt by this.  There is visible division even among fellow Filipinos.  We have to realize that in this day and age where all of us are literally capable of being our own individual media outlets through social media and viral marketing, we have to be mindful more than ever.

I will continue to pray for Manny Pacquiao and his family.  I will continue to be a fan and I remain grateful for everything he has done to inspire millions around the world to continue dreaming and keep standing for what they believe in.  I also send love to all my friends from the LGBT community.  I grew up with so many of you and have worked in the movie and fashion industry where I met my most prized relationships.

I pray that the negative charge may soon pass.  May we all find love, peace and understanding that comes from one Divine Providence… At the end of it all, there is only LOVE…

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