MARK Andaya is looking to reach new heights in his first foray into the political arena.
Running for a council seat in the fifth district of Manila, the former PBA player is looking to stand out from the other candidates as he vowed to bring a different approach to public service if he succeeds in next month’s elections.
The 35-year-old former Letran Knights center, running under the ticket of former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, is busy campaigning in the district that covers the areas of Malate, Ermita, Paco, Intramuros (where Letran is located), Port Area, Baseco, and San Andres Bukid.
The Singalong native known as ‘Big Mac’ shared he had long thought about going into politics ever since his college days in Letran, where he was the main big man of the Knights in the mid-2000s.
“Dati kasi, nung college pa ako, nakita-kita ko na mahilig akong tumulong sa tao sa lugar ko. I think it’s about time na I give back ‘yung mga napaghirapan ko dati nung nagsisimula pa lang ako,” said Andaya.
As soon as his PBA contract with Kia expired last year, Andaya had already been preparing for the shift to public service, setting aside his basketball career to try his hand at politics.
“Hindi ko kayang pagsabayin,” Andaya said. “Nagpaalam ako kay Boss Manny [Pacquiao, playing coach of Kia] last year. Nagpaalam ako na tatakbo ako. I’m not saying I’m retiring [pero] stop muna ako.”
Andaya, however, stressed that despite his intention to be a public servant, this will be the first and only time he will run for a government post.
“First and only ko lang ‘to. If I win, ibig sabihin, gusto ng tao, salamat. Huwag natin sirain ‘yung tiwala ng tao. If I lose, ayaw ng tao, huwag pilitin. Hindi ako katulad ng iba na pilit ng pilit na tumakbo,” he explained.
Highlighting Andaya's platform is an active sports program which he plans to launch in his district in hopes of producing the next best thing, not just in basketball but in other sports. Part of the plans are regular sports clinics which he vowed to offer free to the public.
“Gusto kong mag-develop at [may] mag-shine sa kanila. Ang plataporma ko is more on sports development, buhayin ang sports sa Maynila,” said Andaya.
“‘Yung iba kasi (sports clinics), may bayad. Ako naman, dahil may bayad, hindi ako sumama sa mga ganun. Ang gagawin ko, may continuous program sa lahat ng sports tapos walang solicitation. Libre na ‘yung mga damit, jersey, at ‘yung mga gamit,” he added.
Andaya also emphasized that he’s not running for office just for the sake of having a position in government. He takes his cue from Pacquiao, a congressman for Sarangani province who is also eyeing a seat in the Senate.
“I didn’t come here to join politics. I came to serve the people. I don’t want to be a trapo or a politician. Gusto kong makatulong sa kinalakihan ko,” said Andaya.
“Sabi niya (Pacquiao) sa akin, basta ang intention ko ay makatulong and to serve the people ng totoo, tama, at honest, i-pursue mo. Matagal na kami magkasama ni Boss Manny, nakita naman niya sa akin na mabait akong tao at matulungin. And right now, he is supporting me,” he added.
Winning a seat in the city council is his goal now, but Andaya said he would not mind if he loses in the next month's polls.
“I’ll just continue with life,” he said. “Kung ayaw ng tao, huwag pilitin. I’ll be kung ano ako dati na private Mark Andaya na may negosyo at tutulong pakonti-konti sa kabataan. Pero iba pa rin ‘yung gagawa ka ng programa sa pangkalahatan.”
"I’ll still help pero it will be really, really nice to win. The main objective is to win. So far naman, maganda naman ang acceptance ng tao sa akin,” added Andaya.