Manny Pacquiao for President?

Yeah, I know. The idea has been floated before. This time, though, it’s straight from the horse’s mouth. The champ himself spoke to Agence France-Presse in Macau about considering such a move…

When pressed on whether he had thought about shooting for the top job, the softly-spoken 34-year-old replied “Yes”.

Drawing parallels between his pugilism and politics careers, the former world champion in eight weight divisions said: “When I started boxing, of course I was planning, you know and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I enter politics it’s the same thing.

“But, you know, it’s far away,” he said, adding: “It’s God’s will.”

Oh, boy. It’s God’s will. Nothing’s going to stop people from prodding him to run now. Such statements have an enormous effect on a religious people like the Filipinos.

manny-pacquiao

Why politics? Simple: it’s the refuge of choice here in the Philippines for celebrities who have become has-beens and/or are looking for an easy way to make lots of money. Considering that Manny Pacquiao is due for retirement from boxing soon on account of old age and fears and concerns for his health, his plans to further his political career in the future should really come as no surprise.

To be an engineer, doctor, or lawyer, you need a degree, and Filipino society places utmost importance on such. To be a politician, however, you just need to be popular. And it’s ironic that such a vocation which impacts a nation very visibly and very significantly is one where any popular Juan, Jose, or Pepe can come in and assume office.

Manny remains popular with the Filipino people because he is a quintessential icon of Filipino Pride – Pinoy Pride, diminutively. Every time he won a fight, Filipinos were quick to latch on to his individual victory as an achievement for Filipinos as a whole, plus to them it served as a “validation” that Filipinos are “great and important to the world”, so to speak.

But Manny Pacquiao hasn’t been on a winning streak lately. He’s lost his last two fights to Timothy Bradley and to veteran Juan Manuel Marquez. And it looks like his next fight in November of this year against Brandon Rios will not be any easier.

Commentators noted back in 2012 that the road to the presidency may not be as easy as Pacquiao thinks, though:

Ronnie Nathanielsz, a veteran sports analyst, said if Mr. Pacquiao is eyeing a position as high as the presidency, he will need to keep fighting to earn “the money he would need to fund a campaign for higher office… and to keep winning and keeping his name in the consciousness of Filipinos, who, by nature, love a winner.”

Having started his career at just 16, Mr. Pacquiao now has 17 years of boxing under his belt, and eight world titles – something that fans say will undoubtedly weigh in his mind as he decides what to focus his energies on. Though some say the boxer is still in his prime, they worry that their idol might be hit and injured more as he grows older, risking his cult-status within his country and the world.

“Pacquiao should retire while he is on top. He has saved a lot of money,” said Danilo Condevillamar, a taxi driver in Cebu.

Mr. Pacquiao, at times, has ducked direct questions about his long-term political future. Last year, he said he would eventually run for vice president, but officials have said he will be too young to run in an expected vice-presidential race in 2016. A member of his staff told The Wall Street Journal that Mr. Pacquiao would run for governor in Sarangani province in the next election in 2013.

It’s also far from clear whether Filipinos would elect him to a big national office, despite his massive popularity. Indeed, his political record isn’t as spectacular as his boxing one, having lost an earlier election in 2007, when he ran for office against a powerful local incumbent and was defeated by a substantial margin.

It’s also far from clear whether Filipinos would elect him to a big national office, despite his massive popularity. Indeed, his political record isn’t as spectacular as his boxing one, having lost an earlier election in 2007, when he ran for office against a powerful local incumbent and was defeated by a substantial margin.

“I don’t know how far his popularity would go” in a big national election, said Ramon Casiple, a political analyst and director at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in the Philippines. “He is still seen by many as a boxing hero.”

His appeal to voters, Mr. Casiple says, is his Robin Hood-like image, in which he “has the money and gives it to the people,” improving their lives with his own personal wealth. But for something like the presidency, with much bigger responsibilities, analysts say pork barrel politics are less likely to work.

Increasingly, the boxer has surrounded himself with seasoned politicians as advisers who could help him punch above his weight in pursuing a more serious political career. In interviews, he has spoken about a desire to help people and rein in corruption in the country.

“For now, he is a raw politician,” said Mr. Casiple. “But who knows, 2022 is really far away.”

Well, one thing that can be said with certainty is that we shouldn’t really be surprised if Filipinos vote for him as president if and when he does formalize his candidacy. After all, the Philippines is, and is seemingly doomed to remain, a nation of starstruck ignoramuses.

print

About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.