Despite being absent from Tuesday's plenary session of the Philippines Congress, when lawmakers impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in a 212-46 vote, Sarangani Representative and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao still grabbed his share of the headlines with messages on his Twitter account.
It all started when Pacquiao posted on his Twitter account that he was watching the impeachment debates on TV, indicating he wasn’t at the House of Representatives that night.
Curious, Filipina blogger Noemi Dado replied to Pacquiao, asking why he was absent from such an important session. Other Filipino Twitter users chimed in, suggesting that perhaps it was because he was still training for his upcoming fight against Shane Mosley. But for some reason, Pacquiao decided to answer the question himself, in a somewhat bizarre way.
The boxing champ's message was:
‘e di mag reklamo ka doon sa lolo mo hahahaha thanks’ (eh you complain to your grandfather hahaha thanks)
This kind of reference to one's elders is common in Filipino culture. But although it’s meant as a witty retort, such ridiculing is generally seen as improper, if not outright rude.
Filipino Twitter users who saw the message bombarded him with criticism, complaining that this type of behaviour is unbecoming for a member of Congress and respected sporting personality. Pacquiao tried to steer the conversation back to the impeachment, noting his vote against it. But there was no turning back. On the Internet, public figures stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the online community, which follows a set of unwritten yet stringent rules on etiquette.
In the end, Pacquiao appears to have realized that the damage was done and that there was nothing left to do but throw in the towel and quit micro-blogging. Just hours after the tussle with Filipino Twitter users, he bid his farewells and deleted his own account.
Manny Pacquiao might still be the world's best pound-for-pound fighter around today. It’s a shame his talents don’t appear to extend much further than the boxing ring.