Manny Pacquiao Wins Seat in the Congress of the Philippines

Joe OneillCorrespondent IIMay 11, 2010

KIAMBA, PHILIPPINES - MAY 10:  World welterweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is seeking a seat in the Philippine Congress with his party with the Nacionalista Party, fills in his ballot on May 10, 2010 at a local school in the southern town of Kiamba, Sarangani Province. The country goes to the polls today to elect the 15th President of the Philippines to succeed outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images

If you don't like Manny Pacquiao, then you haven't got a pulse.

I don't care if you don't like him as a boxer, but as a human being he's one of a kind.

At a time when most young men with millions of dollars are squandering their money on big houses, gaudy jewelry, loose women, and flashy cars, Manny Pacquiao is entering politics?

That's right!

Pacquiao won a seat in the Philippines Congress representing the province of Sarangani on the island of Mindanao. Early tallies are that he secured 90,000 votes out of a possible 125,000.

In other words, he dominated the voting like he dominates most opponents.

"This is the biggest achievement of Manny's life. More than any boxing match," said Pacquiao's adviser, Michael Koncz.

Pacquiao was defeated soundly and decisively in his previous attempt at public office, an unorganized and poorly run 2007 congressional campaign in the province of South Cotabato. He lost that election to the Antonino-Custodio political clan that runs General Santos City.

For this congressional campaign, Pacquiao shrewdly selected a province in the south, Sarangani, which is also the hometown of his wife, Jinkee. He worked tirelessly to ensure he would win this campaign to help the impoverished people of his native Philippines.

It was as tense and frustrating day.

Over 17,000 candidates across the Philippines were at the mercy of long lines at the first fully automated voting machines in the country's history. Hopefully, this technological innovation will go a long way to subdue the problem of fraud, voter buying, and intimidation in past elections.

Pacquiao was busy at his General Santos City mansion, anxiously watching poll results and talking with his campaign staff. He was trying to get a pulse on the people, many of whom exist on less than $2.00 per day, and where they were leaning.

"It's 80-20 [percent] in my favor," Pacquiao, 31, announced at 4 pm, to the shouts and hollers of his campaign supporters.

His adversary, Chiongbian, whose billionaire family has been in control for at least 30 years, was thought to be unbeatable. The Chiongbian family owns most of the businesses and utilities in the area.

Many experts thought it was impossible to replace a Chiongbian, long a powerful name within the district.

However, Pacquiao is the nation's national hero, and his charitable contributions are legendary. After each fight, Pacquiao walks the city streets handing out food and money to the poor. He has sponsored schools and clinics and made every effort possible to lift his people out of the grasp of poverty.

On Monday, he made one more huge leap by finally winning a congressional seat. This could be the first step on the way to, one day, becoming president of the Philippine islands.

It's refreshing; no, that's too light of a word.

It gives me faith in the human race that an athlete of Pacquiao's stature would be so concerned with public office and helping his people. I don't know what kind of politician he'll make, but the effort itself is awe inspiring.

I wish him the best of luck.