so, Manny Pacquiao is running after all.

After months of dilly-dallying, the “People’s Champ” told reporters that he is now ready to step into the political arena. He will be running for Congress in the first district of Cotabato against Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio. Pacquiao’s lawyer is set to file his candidacy on March 29, and he is expected to end the “ancient” Antonino dynasty in Mindanao.

But unlike Pacquiao’s bouts which every Filipino has faithfully followed, the announcement of his congressional bid (perhaps his biggest fight yet) was welcomed with coldness. Sports analysts are one in saying that his boxing career, which is at its peak at present, would certainly be compromised since his time will be divided between boxing and politics. If the flaks he received for his congressional bid from the people during the “Battle of Cebu” fight last month are not enough, the question on his residency should once and for all vanish his political ambition that was perhaps conceived by his politician-backers. Pacquiao transferred his voter’s registration from General Santos to Manila only to return to General Santos in a span of one year.

If there is something positive about all these negative reactions, it is that Pacquiao is helping people realize that popularity should not be the sole factor in selecting people to public office, says a provincial newspaper.

This writer is not belittling anybody’s intention and capacity to serve the people. Pacquiao has been reaching out to his kababayan in General Santos City, a noble gesture indeed, but he could better serve them through his civic works and without entering politics. Public office, especially legislation requires a high level of education, technical know-how, and leadership which are beyond Pacquiao’s reach.

Sugal ng buhay

But perhaps the same caution should be given to the Antonino clan, which has held Cotabato like a fiefdom for several generations now. To be sure, their political dynasty runs against the values of a true and intelligent leadership.

Pacquiao should perhaps emulate boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde who turned down politics at the expense of his career. During the height of his popularity in the 60’s, Elorde was reported to have plans to run in the 1965 elections under the Nacionalista Party to oppose then Liberal incumbent Rep. Ramon Durano in the first district of Cebu. But the boxing icon eventually dropped his plans of entering politics. Pacquiao still have time to think things over. He is better off as an athlete, as a hero that glues Filipino pride and spirit.

* * *

Congratulations to my batch mates in the College of Science. My deepest gratitude to the Department of Math and Physics, to my thesis buddy, Ate Jen, and to my thesis adviser, Doc Sev.


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