Who is ever to doubt that Manny Pacquiao does not enjoy universal name recall and popularity in the Philippines? And who are those who can argue against "universal name recall and popularity" as the indispensable be-all and end-all element to a road map that leads to Malacañang? After all this is the Philippines, right? Or is that not the way partisan politics revolve globally?
And to a motley few handfuls (at least for now?), name recall and mass popularity would be all, through media-driven mass suffrage, that will ferry Manny to the presidency of the Philippines. Everything else seems mere icing!
There can be no longer any doubt. The Manny Pacquiao for President project has been talked about for over a decade. In fact, such political machination has been on the launch since. Boosters and bootlickers, sycophants and suckers, hangers-on, and politicians with predatory calculations form the Pacquiao phalanx.
Will Filipino basketball fans swell to shore up their dream? That seems to be the calculations. We shall see.
Regardless of aired lofty objectives for the greater glory of the country’s most popular and very populist of sports, what do you think Manny Pacquiao’s very own basketball league was ever concocted for?
In the summer of 2017 he inaugurated the “Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.” Unadulterated spirit for the sake of sports, a vehicle for hailing new hoopster heroes, as claimed. But “MPBL” is unmistakably “Manny Pacquiao,” which is nakedly a further boost extending and cementing his name’s recall, if not sports beneficence.
About a dozen years ago, this basketball conference began in General Santos City as a local provincial league in Mindanao, in search of hardcourt talent from the barangay level, seeking fame, recognition and pay. How lofty! It was then known as the “Manny Pacquiao Basketball League.”
Fairly recently, Pacquiao was competing for news attention once again. This time with announcements of having launched a new phase in his fame-studded life. This time a movie career, with Manny as the star actor portraying real life but near forgotten heroes. And not just local but Hollywood, yet.
Speaking of political calculus, let us recall that in the summer of 2015, there was already an attempt at a biopic on the hardscrabble, better than Horatio Alger, life of Manny. It may have paid off. It was all about Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, from being dirt poor and the struggle to overcome abject poverty through commitment and discipline; to small victories and onto international sports prominence; parlaying such to a political career and on to multi-billionaire financial status. The flick was dubbed “Kid Kulafu.” (Manny’s earliest ring monicker.) “Kid Kulafu,” the movie, may have been just "icing" in Manny’s life story of an already world-known champion boxer then, but "King Kulafu" the boxer is now Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Back to the attempt at launching an acting career. Again, this latest activity of Senator Pacquiao was viewed by the preponderant many as tainted with personal political motivations. First it was announced that he was to star in a historical movie production “Malvar” about General Miguel C. Malvar of Batangas. He was a general during the Philippine Revolution and in the following Philippine-American War.
Not any sooner, the Pacquiao publicity department also allowed a "revelation" of yet another movie production. This time, still a historical screenplay but to be made by a Hollywood outfit. This was to depict the life of World War II guerilla hero, Col. Macario Peralta, Jr. (The Freedom Fighters). He was commander of the resistance in Panay Island during the Japanese occupation, subsequently elected as senator and served as Secretary of National Defense under the Macapagal administration.
Senator Pacquiao was to play the movie-version lives of both General Malvar and Col. Peralta. Unfortunately, it now appears that Manny’s movie career launch was off to a bad start. Surviving descendants and close kin of both the Malvar and Peralta families have aired their objections to Senator Pacquiao personally portraying their departed heroes.
The “Malvar” production, however, must be noted as being pushed by a Malvar grandson (Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas) under a production company bearing his initials “JMV.” No other Malvar kin supports JMV! In the midst of this minor tempest in a Philippine political teapot, Senator Pacquiao has stated that his playing the heroic roles is a “non-issue.” He added: “Historical movies must be produced so that Filipinos will not forget national heroes who spilled their blood to pay for the freedom and liberty that current generations now enjoy.”
It is not known as of the moment if the intended productions will still continue without Senator Pacquiao in the title role. Pacquiao has not spoken of withdrawing while “Malvar” is said to have commenced "shooting." Already there are photographs showing him garbed in revolutionary "rayadillo" uniform. There are unconfirmed rumors that in both movie productions, Senator Pacquiao may also be playing another role, that of a “financial angel.”
Make no mistake about it. Manny Pacquiao is without doubt a great story. Sports historians consider him as “the greatest professional boxer of all time.” And why not? Truly the pride of the Philippines and of Filipinos. “He is the only 8-division world champion... having won 12 world titles... and the first boxer to win... in 5 different classes... winning world titles in the flyweight, featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions.” It is a sports record that may never be equaled.
And of course, exclusively by being such a star athlete he has been elected in 2016 to a seat in the otherwise, supposedly august national "upper house," the Philippine Senate. After all Pacquiao does not really speak of any other commendable attribute. And that, indeed, speaks more of the electorate than of boxer-candidate Manny Pacquiao! Does it not?
It would be quite a challenge for President-wannabe Pacquiao’s handlers to repackage him precisely overcoming known and existing deficits: intellectual deficiency, tax delinquency and unrivalled absences from work as a Senator.
Would being a "movie hero," a fast-fading world boxing champion and a famously non-performing legislator, albeit still with excellent "name recall and popularity," be sufficient draw for the general electorate to be cajoled, nay hoodwinked, into yet another political calamity?
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.