Monday, May 11, 2009

More on Nanay Dionesia

For the Nanay Dionesia watchers/lovers but missed reading this article in yesterday's Inquirer, here is a reprint:

Nanay Dionesia embodies masses woes, triumphs
By Constantino Tejero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:27:00 05/10/2009

MANILA, Philippines—Dionesia Dapigran Pacquiao, affectionately called “Nanay Dionesia” by Filipinos as if she were the mother of the nation, has a strong tolerance for pain. But there is one pain she herself admits she could hardly endure.

World boxing champ Manny Pacquiao’s 60-year-old mother was said to have fainted away ahead of his nemesis Ricky Hatton by the second round last week in Las Vegas. And this without even having seen him fight live in the ring or on TV, as she was, like before, in the company of her prayer brigade saying the Holy Rosary.

It could be a joke, but it reveals a lot. A salient point shows how farcical a character she has become to many, but at the core of the joke is a more human one: How a mother could suffer for her child. In every fight, she is actually suffering with her son, blow by blow, as she feels his pain almost physically—so she has refused to see him trade punches live ever since.

In fact, she did not like him to become a boxer, as it would break her heart “just thinking how he could get hurt in the ring.” She wanted him to become a priest.

(In this, she could be a reflection of that mother of all mothers, Mary, birthing the Divine and contemplating the Crucifixion.)

Braver than champ

Yet she could be braver than the champ himself. Like Manny, she suffers from tonsillitis, but every time there is an inflammation she would just thrust her fingers into her mouth to squeeze the pus off her tonsils.

When her newly rich family in General Santos City, South Cotabato, was threatened with kidnapping-for-ransom by the Abu Sayyaf, she declared she was unafraid of the bandits and was prepared to fight them tooth-and-nail to protect her brood.

Aling Dionesia is an abandoned wife of two husbands. She raised her six children by her lonesome, selling kakanin in the neighborhood for subsistence, waking them up at dawn to pray together.

“I tried hard to be a good role model for my children,” she once said in an interview. “I worked hard and took care of them, to show that I do love them very much.”

Her son’s popularity and newfound wealth (estimated by the billions of pesos) are reflected in her public persona, as her antics grace the TV screen every time he has a fight.

Most people know her from those rambunctious interviews, chiefly about what she would ask as balato from her son: New house, shopping binge, luxury vehicles, plus driver and security escort; even the construction of a peripheral fence of her house, including its repainting from a drab white to a lively pink.

Essential person

Blinded by her refracting precious stones, people forget that this once-simple and hardy woman from Barangay Tango, Glan, Sarangani, is an embodiment of the travails and triumphs of the Filipino masses, like her son.

From Nanay Dionesia, many now fondly call her Mommy Dionesia (as if such moniker changes the essential person within). To top it all, she is threatening to become a gay icon—a test of her versatility as public figure, if she is to join the league of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Madonna.

In the party to celebrate her son’s conquest of Hatton, Aling Dionesia appeared in what was touted as the Audrey Hepburn makeover: Simple makeup, simple hairdo, simple black dress.
She looked dignified enough, but her quest for fashion respectability was easily betrayed by the glistering stones on her fingers and the diamond-encrusted watch on her wrist, as she waved her hand à la beauty queen, saying, “I am now a celebrity, not only in the Philippines but all over the world.”

Of course, she was only trying to amuse her audience. She is known to make fun even of herself, with flamboyant gestures and wild declarations, overdressing and ballroom-dancing with aplomb.

But such antics can be misleading, glossing over harder facts. That she suffers in the prayer room as much as her son does in the ring. That she is a mother, in fact.

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