POSTSCRIPT / December 27, 2009 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pacquiao can use doping issue to retire undefeated

‘TEKA MUNA’: From my corner, I see the escalating blood test issue between our Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a pretty, but pardonable, promotional ploy for their big-bucks showdown in Las Vegas on March 13.

It was unusual for Mayweather, who claims to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the face of the earth, to step back in “teka muna” fashion and mutter that he would take on Pacquiao only if the latter agreed to blood tests for performance-enhancing drugs.

The black American pug (40-0; 25 KOs) who never lost a fight since turning pro after winning an Olympic bronze in 1996 makes a big show of not being scared of anybody under any circumstances in the ring. Now he is suddenly afraid?

But it could be that this doping issue is heaven-sent. Pacquiao can use it to back out and retire as undefeated world champion in six weight divisions.

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SHOW GOES ON: Pacquiao (50-3; 38 KOs) swears by the rosary around his neck that he has never touched steroids and does not even know how they look.

Doubting Thomases can ask his doting mother Aling Dionisia, or his press release writer who has the would-be congressman from Sarangani saying he would sue Mayweather et al. for defamation.

But not to worry. This side show could be part of the pre-fight fireworks calculated to work up the fans and bettors. My guess is that the show in Las Vegas, where only urine (not blood) pre-fight doping tests are required, will go on.

The Nevada mafia salivating for mega-bucks will not allow anybody or anything to scuttle the big bang that will net each protagonist at least $40 million with the rest of the syndicate raking in the usual millions.

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‘MANO-A-MANO’: Insisting that Pacquiao is clean, promoter Bob Arum said that the bout could be salvaged if Mayweather dropped the demand that testing be done by the US Anti-Doping Agency whose procedures require random testing up to the day of fight.

He said Pacquiao has an aversion to being bled close to an event, believing it weakens him. He is willing to submit to testing, as usual, if done under the auspices of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

After Pacquiao’s victory over Miguel Cotto last Nov. 14 in Las Vegas, the father of Mayweather insinuated that the Filipino boxer must have been using PEDs since his physical toughness had improved beyond belief.

Mayweather Sr. told a Yahoo! reporter: “You know there is something going on with him. It just don’t add up. Take a look at them old pictures, man. That’s a different dude. And he got knocked out when he was 30 pounds lighter, but now he can stand there and take Cotto’s best shots? Come on.”

Pacquiao said: “I have no idea what steroids look like and my fear in God has kept me safe and victorious through all these years. I say to Floyd Mayweather Jr., don’t be a coward and face me in the ring mano-a-mano and shut your big mouth, so we can show the world who is the true king of the ring.”

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MOST HOSPITABLE: We pride ourselves in being hospitable. In grade school they used to tell us that if the Dutch are known for their cleanliness, Filipinos are known worldwide for their being hospitable to a fault.

But look what 3,100 expatriates worldwide said when asked in a HSBC Bank survey which they think is the most hospitable host country.

The survey results just published by Forbes magazine showed that while the top ten choices included three members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines was not one of them.

In descending order, the top ten countries considered by expats as most hospitable are Bahrain, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain and the United States.

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FINDING A HOME: Bahrain ranked No. 1 in the integrated score after rating high in making it easy for expats to set up a new life for their families.

The small Persian Gulf country has seen its share of trouble but still received top marks for giving expats easy access to modern health care, decent and affordable housing, and a network of social groups open to foreign executives.

Forbes said that it is possible that Bahrain’s top rank is a fluke as only 31 expats working there participated in the survey, whereas there were, for instance, more than 450 respondents from the United Kingdom.

Bahrain was rated the best country for joining local community groups and coordinating health care. It ranked in the top five in locating a home, setting up finances, and finding good schools, although respondents found it less easy to make local friends and learn native languages.

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FAMILY FACTOR: The Expat Explorer survey of HSBC was conducted last February to April among respondents from the US, Europe and elsewhere who have lived in more than two dozen countries and on four continents.

They ranked their new homes based on 23 factors, including food, entertainment, health care, transportation and education. From these factors, HSBC picked eight for an integrated score that measures how easily foreigners and their families settle in a new country.

Suzanne Garber, COO of the Americas Region for International SOS, says that family life is the leading indicator of whether or not an expat assignment will be successful. Many foreign families feel unsettled and have trouble handling basic tasks like refilling prescriptions, driving around or dealing with the police.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 27, 2009)

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