THEY say there’s politics in sports in the same manner there are sports(men) in politics.
The local campaign for the coming national elections officially begins on Good Friday, but since it’s a holiday, the ball won’t formally start rolling until Monday.
But a quick look at some of the personalities running for local office – and national as well – would reveal quite a number of them are involved in sports.
On top of the list is no other than boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, a two-term congressman of Sarangani province who’s seeking a Senate seat. Although currently in the U.S. training for his April 9 fight against Timothy Bradley, the 37-year-old Filipino ring icon is expected to go on the campaign trail full-blast once he returns to the country on April 14.
Pacquiao, the richest athlete in the country – and among the millionaire sportsmen around the world - has builthis program around his goal to alleviate poverty in the Philippines. As he said, it takes one to know one.
“Hindi niya kayang talikuran ang mga mahihirap na tao, kasi ang inyong lingkod ay galing rin sa hirap,” said the eight-time world division champion. “Kaya kahit nakatalikod ako at may narinig akong mahirap, kahit hindi ko siya tingnan, tinutusok ang puso ko dahil doon ako galing.”
Another well-known sports figure running for the Senate is re-electionist Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III. Although known as a comedian, TV host, and songwriter, he is actually a great bowler who represented the country not once but twice in the World Cup (1978 in Bogota, Colombia and 1984 Sydney, Australia) and has recorded three perfect games in tournament play.
Sotto also happens to be a very good golfer, who has three hole in one feats under his belt.
On the local front, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao will be running for a second term as congressman of the first district of Pampanga. The veteran mentor was vice-governor of the province before running for a seat in the House of Representative, while his late father, Bren Guiao, once served as governor of Pampanga during the term of President Aquino.
Globalport owner Mikee Romero is also seeking a congressional seat as the top nominee of the party list 1Pacman (Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals).
A former basketball godfather and president of the national associations of shooting and cycling, Romero trains his sights on improving the sports sector in the country, foremost of which is the creation of a Department of Sports that directly falls under the discretion of the President.
“It would be a big legacy for me as a sportsman if I can put up the Department of Sports,” he said. “By doing it, magiging automatic cabinet member whoever will be appointed to the position. And automatically, problems in local sports will be elevated directly to the president.”
Incidentally, 1Pacman party list’s second nominee is Mahindra team manager Eric Pineda.
Former national archer Enrique ‘Kit’ Cojuangco is the current vice governor of Tarlac, but is reportedly being groomed as replacement for his late father Henry Cojuangco, as representative of the first district of the province.
Over in the 1st district of Manila, former Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) president Manny Lopez will again try to snare a seat in congress. He is the son of former congressman and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Mel Lopez.
Former PSC chair Harry Angping is also gunning for a congressional seat in Manila’s 3rd district, while former Asian taekwondo gold medal winner Ali Atienza is eyeing the vice-mayoralty seat in the city.
One-time De La Salle center Francis Zamora challenges incumbent San Juan mayor Guia Gomez in a projected heated battle between two political heavyweights in the city. Zamora, son of longtime San Juan Rep. Ronnie Zamora, is the present San Juan vice mayor.
Running under the party of Zamora as councilor is retired PBA player Paul Artadi.
Like the Zamoras in San Juan and Cojuangcos in Tarlac, the Meneseses are also looking to preserve the family’s political clout in Bulacan as former PBA great and one-time league MVP Vergel Meneses is running for Bulacan, Bulacan vice mayor in his first attempt in politics.
The current coach of Jose Rizal University is the running mate of his cousin, incumbent mayor Patrick Meneses. Vergel’s mother served as longtime mayor of the province.
Other sports personalities seeking public office in the May 9 elections include Mark Andaya and Turo Valenzona (Manila councilors), Mar Morelos and Tyson Sy (councilors, Valenzuela), Chris Baluyot (councilor, Bulacan), and Boy Cabahug (councilor, Cebu).
Star Hotshots coach Jayson Webb is reportedly no longer seeking reelection as Paranaque councilor, and instead will be giving way to his brother Hubert.
Spin.ph welcomes other sportsmen that were overlooked in its running list of personalities running for public office.