Muhammad Ali and How Manila Ain’t Vanilla

Muhammad Ali and How Manila Ain't Vanilla [Vlog] | Avoiderdragon

On the very day of Muhammad Ali’s passing, I knew I had to come out with a vlog on his legacy and his influence on me. However, what came out wasn’t just a straight-up video of me talking about him. I connected the dots between him, The Thrilla in Manila, and local politics then and now since it involved Ferdinand Marcos. I figured that since Muhammad Ali wasn’t shy with talking about socio-political issues in his day, then I give it a bash myself.

Like I mentioned in the video, it’s a mixed bag. Whether you think this is disrespecting Muhammad Ali’s memory or not, I put up the vlog anyway because that’s just what felt right. I think the man himself would’ve appreciated that somehow. I ended it by talking about his influence in my life and showing my gratitude for his life and work. In some way, he was able to affect the existence of this two-bit hack who barely leaves his room.

May that warrior rest in peace.


NOTE: This is not exactly what I say in the video, but merely the script that guided me through recording. I had ad-libbed some bits to improve on certain parts.

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. This is a vlog about a few things, mostly centered around The Greatest himself, Muhammad Ali. I’m a big combat sports fan, so I couldn’t refrain from talking about this. His passing was announced just as I was finishing the script for this, but I already started earlier in the morning as I felt it was about time. His health had been deteriorating in recent years, but at least he was surrounded by family.

This vlog is unusual. I don’t know if there’s a real central topic to it, but please bear with me. I was watching the documentary “When We Were Kings” as I wrote the script, so my mind was all over the place. I had tons of ideas on what to say, and I knew that I couldn’t just talk in front of a camera here in my room about it. I had to go to a special place.

This is Araneta Coliseum. Over 40 years ago, the rubber match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took place here in what became known as The Thrilla in Manila. By the way, you foreigners—it’s Manila with one L, not two like Vanilla. If there’s one thing Manila is not, it’s vanilla.

He said that it would be a “killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila.” Well, that was a different era. Nowadays, if you talk about “getting a gorilla,” you’d get hate messages on social media.

It must have been quite a surreal time, having what became one of the greatest boxing matches in history take place here. In this very location. That’s pretty neat, if you ask me.

Disclaimer—I raise some political subjects in this vlog. It’s supposed to be about Muhammad Ali, so you may think I’m disrespecting his memory by doing so. Then again, the man himself wasn’t shy with political talk, so I’ll try to do right by him there.

Think about it. There’s a boxer in the Philippine Senate now, and the guy who made the Thrilla in Manila happen left a legacy that’s still hotly debated here in the country. Hell, his son tried to run for vice president; he lost, but by a narrow margin. What does that say?

Mind you, try to not take this too seriously; I’ll do my best to connect the dots, so bear with me. Anyway, back to Ali.

Ferdinand Marcos was quite adamant in having the fight here. At this point, he had been in power for almost a decade, and shit had been hitting the fan for quite a while back then; so much that the wind of said fan filled the air with a deplorable stench. They could definitely use a world-famous braggadocio talk mad trash about his opponent all over the media; it’d keep the citizens occupied.

Hey, if Mobutu Sese Seko could make the Rumble in the Jungle happen in Zaire (now the Congo) the year before, then Marcos could indeed make Ali and Frazier fight here. In the Philippines. Where it’s also hot and sticky.

Back then, they had 15 rounds of boxing. The thought of getting punched for 15 rounds already makes my brain hurt. Muhammad Ali did win via 14th round TKO, but his brain did hurt too eventually. I love boxing, but I love my brain more. I’ve been punched repeatedly in the face before, so I know what it’s like.

They had the fight at 10AM—almost noon—so that people at stateside could watch it at night. A boxing match in Manila during the day at 1975; I don’t know if air conditioning was that good yet back then. They said it was 49 degrees Celsius in the building. What the fuck? My room never gets that hot, and it’s pretty hot in here at times.

The fight was down to the wire; Ali actually came very close to quitting, but his trainer Angelo Dundee wouldn’t let him. Frazier didn’t want to quit, but his trainer Eddie Futch thought it was enough. They were both pretty dying in there. Well, that wasn’t an uncommon sight in Manila back then.

So it was hot and sticky—like how it is now—and it was 1975. Martial law had been enacted three years before and persisted until 1981. That was twelve years of, “ANYONE COULD BE A FUCKING REBEL! ARREST THEM!” Of course, that was 40 years ago and people have forgotten. Boy, have they forgotten…

Now we have a leftist pro-Marcos president (can’t say how many levels of “HUH!?” that combo is) and a former boxer as a senator. The national elections happened just last month—at which time I was actually in Hong Kong (vlog of that coming up soon)—and all of this stuff happened amid frustrations over corruption and crime in the country.

I don’t know. I’m a Pacquiao fan, but he couldn’t catch Mayweather like Rocky couldn’t catch a chicken, and he only attended 4 days of work as a congressman. Oh, and gays are worse than animals, he said. Right, make him a senator.

Kinda tragic, actually. Ali had intelligence and charisma. He had the makings of a political leader. He could actually do it, but Parkinson’s robbed him of his speech and grace while that goofball can sit out of sessions to play basketball or show his mug on TV somewhere. Both are fighting legends, but only one had the mettle to be a leader.

Back to Thrilla in Manila. One remnant of that momentous occasion was a mall named after him. Ali Mall. Or Alimall. Named in his honor, it still stands today, just behind Araneta Coliseum. It’s said to be the first major shopping mall in the country. Well, I don’t know if people these days still remember that it was named after the boxer. The people around here aren’t exactly known to be… good at history…

All of this is located in Cubao, which has pretty much become a central hub of sorts here in Metro Manila. The trains pass through here, so do the jeepneys and buses, it’s crowded and very busy. There are also a lot of places to… hang out in… and chill…

And EDSA Boulevard runs through here. The very road along which the People Power Revolution happened in February 25, 1986. It saw the toppling of the Marcos Regime, and I was born around 4 months later. Yeah, that must have been quite an impassioned time. We only have to look at a 500 peso bill to be reminded of it.

How the fuck am I able to connect Muhammad Ali to Filipino politics? Well, welcome to my channel. This is what you can expect from me, and more. Also, the Thrilla in Manila had an agenda to it; it’s kinda hard to deny that. I thought it was fairly apt to put two and two together. But enough of that now.

I started to really become a fight fan in the early to mid 2000s, and it was a great time to do so. The Internet was burgeoning, and websites like YouTube started popping up. All of a sudden, a wealth of combat sports history and martial arts education became accessible.

Personally, being a recluse, I could obsess over this stuff without exposing myself to what was once (and still kinda is) what scares me to death—the outside world.

Much of the fights I watched were those of Muhammad Ali. He was no wallflower; he really did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee in and out of the ring. He had timing in his DNA, not just in boxing but in life as well. He belonged in his era, and the world gained much from him. He was both cocky and planted at the same time. He belonged. He was there. He really lived. He was a man of that moment.

Soon enough, I ventured out to learn more about fighting and stuff, thrived at the start, then stumbled for 4-5 years, then kinda got back on the horse when I figured things out. I had problems, and I couldn’t get over myself at first. I’m fine now; at least I realized that I don’t have to take myself so seriously and feel sorry about myself. (That was just in the middle of last year.) Once I truly realized that, regrets and anxieties started sliding away like water off a duck’s back. Like Buddha under the bodhi tree, I realized a bit of how those people could do that. How Ali could do that.

I didn’t necessarily want to be like him; I don’t have the DNA for that. Hell, I don’t even favor his fighting style; I’m more of a Joe Frazier type, really. But I did take much from his love of verbal finesse. Why I’m here right now on video, expressing myself, is due to being inspired by people like Muhammad Ali.

There’s something to speaking to an audience, even over the Internet where only a few people will ever take time to watch, that feels right to me in a way. I think I was also born in the right era. As a socially-awkward and agoraphobic individual, I needed the Internet to find inspirations like Muhammad Ali to help me slowly break out of my own shell, and then find ways to express myself. Once I figured things out a bit, I needed an outlet. It’s not much, but it’s something.

At any other time, I’d only know of Muhammad Ali through stories and hearsay, and whatever comes up on television. But through the Internet, I got to learn a good bit about the man, the way he fought, the way he spoke, and the way he carried himself in life—with dignity and grace.

This vlog has been a mixed bag, but it’s a vlog and I already explained myself. At least I end this with sincere gratitude to Muhammad Ali. Really, I’m thankful for a guy I didn’t personally know, but I got to learn from through his prowess, both as a boxer and as a man. So thank you, Muhammad. May you rest well.

If this video helps just a bit in commemorating Muhammad Ali’s life and legacy, then all is good.

If you didn’t like this video, go ahead and click dislike; but if you liked it, please click like. Please subscribe to this channel for more vlogs in the near future; I got another one in the works right now. Also check out my other YouTube channel, where I talk about video games, movies, and so on whenever I can. Because, why not?

And that’s all for this vlog. Until next time, stay tore.

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