CEBU CITY, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – In the Philippines, you are either pro-Manny Pacquiao or anti-Manny Pacquiao, and the conflict has turned to shoes.
Since Nike announced that it was severing its ties with the Filipino champion boxer after his disparaging comments comparing gay men and women to (worse than) animals, Pacquiao fans, bishops, politicians, LGBT advocates and practically people on the street have engaged in what is being called the Nike War.
In Cebu, the Queen City of the South, pro- Pacquiao actvists burned their Nike shoes in protest of the company’s move to fire Pacquiao. In Manila, mall shops selling sports shoes and paraphernalia have reported a sharp increase in Nike sales, apparently from shoppers who agree with Nike’s decision to drop Pacquiao.
Even the Church has entered the fray, with a Filipino Evangelical bishop criticizing Nike for dropping Pacquiao, saying the megasports brand failed to consider all the heroic accomplishments of the congressman from Sarangani, including his ministry to the poor people. The bishop is calling for Filipinos to boycott Nike.
In the political arena, and unrelated to the Nike controversy, a senatorial candidate has asked the Philippines’ electoral body, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to disqualify Pacquiao from the senatorial race because his upcoming April 9 fight with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas would result in unfair advantage for the boxer in as far as media exposure is concerned. COMELEC rules provide for equal air time for all candidates.
Meanwhile, ADIDAS is reportedly recruiting sales reps to promote their shoes to take advantage of the ongoing Nike controversy in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, they take not only their boxers, but also their shoes , very seriously.