WASHINGTON D.C. - In a town where symbols mean a lot, the Philippine flag flew at the Hay Adams Hotel just across the White House, a home away from home for kings and presidents, and for today, people’s champ Manny Pacquiao.
|AFP Photo – Filipino boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao at the Capitol
in Washington, DC. Pacquiao met with American President Barack Obama
and US Senator Harry Reid during a White House visit.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered a privilege speech on the Senate floor extolling Pacquiao the politician and citizen of the world.
He acknowledged that Pacquiao’s last-minute endorsement in last year’s mid-term elections put him over the top against his Republican opponent.
The Senate leader said he doesn’t usually bother President Obama, but insisted he see Pacquiao.
Pacquiao and wife Jinky got a chance to meet President Obama and Vice President Biden over lunch at the White House, a private, closed-door meeting.
Pacquiao is the first reigning boxing champion to be invited to the White House.
When Muhammad Ali got the same privilege, he was no longer a champion.
With his successful visit to Washington D.C., Pacquiao appears to have arrived as a world-class politician.
“A lot of that is the enthusiasm Manny created. Sharon Angle, who was running against Senator Reid, elected to have at her final rally, John McCain. I don’t know what to think of John McCain but he’s no contest against Manny Pacquiao," said Top Rank's Bob Arum, Pacquiao's boxing promoter.
Reid said Pacquiao should remind Americans about the contributions of Filipinos to America, from fighting side by side in World War 2, to the millions of Filipino-Americans who help enrich America.