Boxing in Particular: Manny Pacquiao's Ambitious Climb

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Boxing in Particular: Manny Pacquiao's Ambitious Climb
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The ingenious Don Quixote of La Mancha once live in a make-believe world wherein chivalric romance and knightly ventures come side by side with cruel deception and cold-hearted truth.

The gentleman from La Mancha dreamt on pursuing courageous yet impossible deeds. He engages against unbeatable foes as a result of little food and lack of sleep.

With his humble being he ventured a noble mission. He tilted at windmills.

In this special edition of Boxing In Particular, we'll take a closer look at how things are shaping up regarding WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao's battle amid the political arena in his native Philippines.

So without further ado, here it is.

Quoting from the May 2010 issue of the famed Ring Magazine, Pacquiao expressed his desire to help his fellow Filipinos. He said that he wants to "bring in more economic opportunities" and in that noble and quixotic mission he banks on his personal fame.

"Because I am fortunate enough to be famous, perhaps as a congressman I can attract bigger businesses to our area and provide more revenues" Pacquiao told reporters.

Needless to say, the Philippines which have been home to nearly 100 million Filipinos is struck with socio-political problems such as poverty and corruption.

In a survey released by the research firm Social Weather Station (SWS) last January, about 46 percent of the people considered themselves poor that compensates to nearly 8.5 million households. Meanwhile, self-rated food poverty—meaning people who consider themselves lacking in food to eat, registered at 39 percent roughly around 7.1 million families.

Pacquiao is no stranger to poverty, he grew up on the outskirts of General Santos city selling cigarettes and donuts to support his family.

During that time, his father left them, forcing Pacquiao to lead the way for his mother and five other younger brothers and sisters.

To sum it all up, Pacquiao earned his own salt, got his fair-share of life's ups and downs and meteorically ascended out of stinking poverty.

On the other hand, the Philippines, a country that once stood as one of Asia's leading economies, had suffered huge setbacks as of late. The withering status of the Filipino people can be considered as one of the major factors in explaining the overall extent of Pacquiao's Godly status in the hearts and minds of Filipinos.

The never-ending praise, the recognition, the laurels and the commendations. It's normal in the Philippines. It's a vindication of the Filipino people's need for a hero, for an inspiration and perhaps a manifestation of the Filipino dream.

However, Philippine politics is not as sweet as the sweet science and Pacquiao knew it. Despite his reign on the upper echelons of boxing, in spite of his dominance over bigger and heftier foes such as the De la Hoyas, the Cottos and the Clotties. He failed to dispose an enemy who appeared to be smaller and less hefty than him.

In 2007, Pacquiao without any experience in politics attempted to defy all odds armed with just mere courage and hope he ran for a congressional seat in his birthplace General Santos city.

After the smoke cleared out and after spending a reported $4 million on his campaign, he saw destruction but this time at his own expense. Pacquiao, who resembles the Filipino dream, who signifies each and every member of the working class, who vowed to perform a noble task, who is synonymous to winning, just lose to a much worthy incumbent.

Apparently, the Filipinos knew best. They don't want their idol to self-destruct and eventually be swallowed by the corrupted political system in the country.

However, all this time destiny has it, that three years later, fast-forward to 2010, Pacquiao despite the appeals of Filipinos worldwide will again suit up for yet another ambitious climb.

Once again, the pound-for-pound king ran for a congressional seat but unlike his 2007 bid wherein he ran in his hometown General Santos city, Pacquiao choose to run in a different township—in the province of Saranggani.

But just like in the 2007 elections where Pacquiao was considered the underdog—a role which he last played on the fateful night, December 2008, against the Golden Boy of boxing, Pacquiao is again disfavored to succeed in his political voyage.

This time Pacquiao is up against a long-standing political dynasty.

The Chongbian dynasty has been the face of Saranggani politics for decades.

Roy Chongbian, Pacquiao's seemingly invincible opponent come May 10 is the heir of local shipping magnate William Chongbian. To the eyes of political observers, Chongbian is someone who can match up against Pacquiao pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar and peso-for-peso.

Some political analysts even discounted the possibility of a Pacquiao win but team Pacquiao remains optimistic that this would be the boxer's coming out party in politics.

Even before the election period began, Pacquiao and Chongbian had already engaged themselves in a tussle of technical issues.

Chongbian's camp filed a petition for Pacquiao's disqualification claiming that the boxing icon is not a bona fide resident of Saranggani province. Although the Commission on Elections settled the issue in favor Pacquiao, it's not something that concerns the Chongbian family.

Pacquiao may have won round one but the battle is just starting to heat up.

During Chongbian's press conference signaling the start of the local campaign period, the business honcho expressed his confidence that the people of Saranggani will vote for someone who has the ability to perform legislative duties.

Pacquiao also conducted a kick-off rally to start his campaign. Together with Nacionalista Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar and his Vice Presidential running-mate Sen. Loren Legarda, Pacquiao defended himself from allegations regarding his legitimacy to run in Saranggani.

"I'm a true Sarangani native, I know the feelings of Sarangani residents. I don't worry about the allegations, since my papers are complete" Pacquiao told GMA news.

Pacquiao believes that his popularity will carry his campaign but the Filipino people's feelings aren't in line with his.

In a survey last year conducted by Pulse Asia, Pacquiao's political endorsement is deemed to be a "Kiss of Death."

The research firm noted that 58-79 percent of voters won't vote for a candidate whom Pacquiao endorses.

Problems such as this come and go but it's a different case for Pacquiao. Just recently, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in an election-awareness forum advised voters to vote based on conscience and to look at the background and morality of the candidate.

The panelists did not mention any names but the clues obviously pointed directly at Pacquiao who was rumored to be dating Filipina actress Krista Ranillo last year.

CBCP media director Bishop Pedro Quitorio even left a hanging question asking voters "Why will you select a person who is immoral to lead the nation?"

Pacquiao and a few others were labeled as "womanizers" a citation which won't help Pacquiao's ailing congressional bid.

Pacquiao chose not to strike back to all the attacks against him—an exact replica of how Joshua Clottey fared against the boxing icon in their March 13 showdown at the 80,000 seater Cowboy Stadium in Texas.

With less than a month to go before the much anticipated elections, it seems that Pacquiao's quest to intertwine with politics will again end up in disarray. As the election plot unfolds each day, it's getting clearer, evidence is everywhere.

It won't be pretty.

For all we know, both the ingenious Don Quixote and our beloved boxing hero have two things in common. First, they're both pursuing a noble task which is great. Second, they're both living in a world of illusions which is insane.

Both of them indulge in fantasy.

Don Quixote dreamt of defeating the abusive and protecting the weak.

Manny Pacquiao dreamt of unseating a dynasty and serving the people.

Both are noble, both are priceless but then again both are tilting at windmills.

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