Two significant events will happen on November 23.
It will be D-day for 8-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao as he tries to re-stock himself for a possible clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr in his last few remaining fights.
Pacquiao returns to the scene where he picked up the pieces after his shock defeat to nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.
Fighting in Macau for the second time in as many years, Pacquiao will be a heavy favorite against the New Yorker with Argentinian roots Chis Algieri.
As in the past, all media attention will again be focused on him. Pacquiao, over the last decade, has become a great equalizer when in comes to television viewing – at least for those who cannot afford to pay live cable TV feed. Regardless, he becomes a unifying figure when he fights for his own glory – and country.
One only wishes coverage over his fight will not drown the one inglorious crime in all history of journalism in the world.
On the same day five years ago and practically the same hour he fights Algieri in Macau, some 32 members of the local media here in Region 12 and 26 others were wailing, crying and begging for their lives.
Their cries were forever muted – silenced – with a prolonged staccato of automatic fire.
At least 14 of those journalists had covered Pacquiao.
They were victims of the Ampatuans whose patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr, Pacquiao used to play ‘mahjong’ with when the Filipino boxing icon was still a confessed high roller.
That blood-soaked date in Philippine history – November 23 – came days after Pacquiao recorded his last knockout victory against Miguel Cotto.
Pacquiao paid visit to the wake of the General Santos City-based journalists and media workers who lost their lives and console with their families when he returned triumphantly. He also handed out cash assistance even if some of the victims were sympathetic to the other camp in local politics. By that time, Pacquiao had already filed his certificate of candidacy. He was then running for a seat in the Philippine House of Representative.
A lot has changed since then. Pacquiao is now a congressman, albeit almost part time only. He is well on his way to further political heights and could one day become senator.
But there are things that have not changed.
Among them, justice continues to elude the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.
On the day the whole nation watches him as journalist pay homage to their departed colleagues, will Pacquiao pay the victims of his former ally and friend tribute and dedicate his fight for them?
Pacquiao has confessed he is a changed man. Will that extend to the way he dedicates his fight?
After all, the media and the press have also greatly created the image he is now cultivating for himself.