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Monday, July 29, 2013

The New Fallback Career

That's what politics has become in these parts.

And no one drives this point home more decisively than Manny Pacquiao.

Punching his way to the presidency?
(Courtesy of

My Sunday night was jolted when my online news feed was bombarded with headlines and reactions reporting on the famous boxer's apparently not-yet-publicized longstanding desire to be the President of this country.

Unscientifically, I can divide the reactions into two camps: the Give Chance To Others and the Did Marquez Smack Him That Hard groups.

The first one argues that the intelligent ones - like Marcos and GMA - have been given their time in the spotlight, and they ask if intelligence demands that one surrenders our moral compass. They also say that the boxing icon has proven to be generous privately, so imagine what he can do in an official capacity. And lastly, how unfair it is to pigeonhole him as being "only" a boxer, as most people have more to them than meets the eye.

The latter group replies that he's had his chance as a legislator, to prove his mettle. The legislative record shows Pacquiao has had the most absences in Congress, and was quite vocal about opposing the RH Law, despite it being supported by a majority of citizens in this country. He's also started his own political dynasty and has no qualms admitting he consults religious leaders when deciding on secular matters. A small portion of this group opines that his decisive loss by Marquez's hand sealed his fate as far as boxing is concerned, and he now has to find a new field to be victorious in once again.

Frankly, it shouldn't be that surprising that he went the political route. It is a reflection of one of the biggest changes in our political landscape these past years, that of parlaying popularity in other fields into political currency. To be more accurate, when one's star is fading in a previous career, it's time to dive in the warm waters of politics.

Admit it: how many times have those of us in our late thirties/early forties wax nostalgic when we hear so-and-so is now the councilor or board member of a province we've never been to, and think "wasn't s/he the 'it' girl/boy of the 80's/90's or figured in some scandal?"

It certainly doesn't help that we have set questionably low standards for who we think deserves to lead us and represent us on the national stage. The entry of literal clowns into places like the Senate has the backing of our Constitution, and it infuriates me no end when people argue from the standpoint of the least common denominator and say anyone should be free to run for this country's top post.

Is it a crime to aspire for greatness? To expect a leader to be a little better than most of us? To be a role model worthy of emulation? To highlight substance over form?

It's been often said that one needs only a pure heart, willing to serve, to run for public office. My response has always been, you can do that without having any government position. Manny himself has been known to give handouts.

Is he now throwing his hat in the political ring because his boxing career is now in its twilight years? Will he be going for an occasional bout or two if he wins as President, the way he did as a legislator? Why should I vote him for President, when he thinks public service is a part time job? (To be fair, we have sitting senators who have shown Manny that he doesn't have to give up his "previous career" as they continue appearing in films and variety shows.)

In the meantime, I'll have to have a discussion with my high school counselor. She never informed me that, when all else fails, there's always politics to fallback to.

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