All the athletes, sports personalities vying in 2022 elections

May 8, 2022
PHOTO: (Pacquiao) AP, (Yap) PBA Images, (Sotto) Lance Agcaoili, (Hontiveros) Jerome Ascano

SPORTS and politics certainly mix, if the number of athletes and sports figures running for office in every election is anything to go by.

The 2022 polls are slightly different this time around, in that we have an athlete running for the highest post in the land. And from vice president all the way down, athletes, former athletes, and executives from different sports duke it out for a chance to enter (or in many cases, re-enter) the political stage.

Here’s our list! Sound off in the comments below if we’ve missed any name.


Manny Pacquiao

His sports record: Arguably the greatest Philippine sports figure of all time, Manny Pacquiao’s boxing career spanned 26 years with 12 major titles under his belt. He is the only fighter in history to clinch titles in eight different weight divisions. He has stood his ground against greats like Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar Dela Hoya, and even Floyd Mayweather Jr., before finally hanging up the gloves after his loss against Yordenis Ugas last August 2021. He is no stranger to the political arena, first serving two terms as Sarangani congressman before winning a Senate seat in 2016.


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Who he’s up against: In the final Pulse Asia pre-election survey, Pacquiao got 7 percent of the vote, a far third behind survey frontrunners Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (56 percent) and Leni Robredo (23 percent).


Tito Sotto

His sports record: As he was building his showbiz career with Vic Sotto and Joey De Leon, Tito Sotto also became an accomplished bowler. As part of the national team, he hit the lanes of the AMF Bowling World Cup in 1978 and 1985. He also clinched three gold medals in the SEA Games, as well as a bronze in the Asian Games.


Who he's up against: Sotto is the second-placer in the final pre-election survey of Pulse Asia, with 18 percent of the survey vote compared to Sara Duterte's 55 percent.


Monsour Del Rosario

His sports record: A member of the taekwondo national team throughout the ‘80s, Monsour del Rosario was an eight-time national lightweight champion. He competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and scored bronze medals in the 1986 Asian Games, as well as back-to-back taekwondo golds in the 1987 and 1989 Southeast Asian Games. He served as congressman of Makati from 2016 to 2019.


Who he’s up against: Against a wide field of senatorial candidates, the taekwondo jin and former actor is struggling at 22nd to 29th place in the latest Pulse Asia survey for senatoriables.

Manny Piñol

His sports record: Before venturing into politics, Piñol was a sports analyst on television, as well as the sports columnist of Tempo. He became mayor of M'Lang, Cotabato, in 1995, and during the Duterte administration, served in the cabinet as agriculture secretary.

Who he's up against: Piñol is languishing in 30th to 38th place in the Pulse Asia Survey.

Juan Miguel Zubiri

His sports record: The longtime legislator earned a gold medal in the 1989 world arnis championships, and has remained a stalwart supporter of the sport ever since. He is currently serving as the chairman of the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation.

Who he’s up against: For the senatoriables, the latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey has Zubiri entering the Magic Twelve. Antique representative Loren Legarda and broadcast personality Raffy Tulfo are statistically tied for the top spot.



Eric Buhain (Batangas)

His sports record: Despite childhood illness, Buhain grew up to become one of the Philippines’ most accomplished swimmers. A gold medal in the 1985 SEAG cemented his reputation in the sport of aquatics, and he was later chosen to become the country’s flagbearer in the 1988 Summer Olympics. Four straight SEA Games and twelve more gold medals later, he decided to retire from the sport, but would later become heavily involved in sports administration via the Philippine Sports Commission and the Games and Amusements Board.


Who he’s up against: In Batangas’ first district, he hopes to succeed his wife in congress. Incidentally, he’s competing against his wife’s sister for the position.

Richard Gomez (Leyte)

His sports record: “Goma”, as he is popularly known, played volleyball during his high school days in Arellano University, before finding a new love in fencing. Even as he built his career as a matinee idol, Gomez joined multiple SEA Games competitions, and won gold in men’s epee in the 2005 edition. Last year, he won reelection as president of the Philippine Fencing Association.

Who he’s up against: Serving as mayor of Ormoc since 2016, Gomez is leading in pre-election surveys for the congressional post of Leyte’s 4th district, and has received the backing of six mayors in the district. His opponent is former Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

Manny Lopez (Manila)

His sports record: The longtime sports executive became president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines, vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, and secretary general of the Philippine Handball Federation.


Who he’s up against: Initially aiming for a mayoral seat, Lopez decided to run for a third and final term as congressman of Manila’s first district. He will be facing off against Ernest “Ernix” Dionisio Jr.

Franz Pumaren (Quezon City)

His sports record: With an illustrious start in the national team (he was part of the squad that beat the USA in the 1985 William Jones Cup), Pumaren played in the PBA for 13 seasons, beginning with Magnolia (that later changed its name to San Miguel Beer) before retiring in 1998 after a year with Mobiline. He later became a successful collegiate coach, mentoring the De La Salle Green Archers and the Adamson Falcons.


Who he’s up against: In the third district of vote-rich Quezon City, Pumaren is going up against incumbent Allan Benedict Reyes, as well as Jessie Dignadice and Juanito Navarro.


Matthew Manotoc (Ilocos Norte)

His sports record: Matthew is the son of the legendary Crispa coach Tommy Manotoc, and as an agent who graduated with a degree in sports management, handles the careers of many pro PBA players.

Who he’s up against: The scion of the Marcos clan will face off against Rodolfo Fariñas, adding another chapter in the long-running political battle between the two families.


Albee Benitez (Bacolod City)

His sports record: American-born businessman Benitez was a member of the water skiing team in the 1987 Southeast Asian Games, wrote the late Ricky Lo in a column. He was also a former official of the Philippine Badminton Association.

Who he’s up against: Pundits forecast a tight race between him and incumbent mayor Evelio Leonardia.


Vergel Meneses (Bulakan)

His sports record: Meneses suited up in the PBA for 15 years, where he earned the colorful nickname the “Aerial Voyager”. He retired in 2006 after racking up a string of nods: an MVP award in 1995, three Best Player of the Conference citations, four-time All-Star MVP and a place of honor in the PBA’s 25 Greatest list.


Who he’s up against: Meneses is up for reelection as mayor of Bulakan, facing off against his vice mayor Patrick Neil Meneses, as well as Michael Ramos and independent candidate Jay-Ryan Trinidad.


Alvin Patrimonio (Cainta)

His sports record: Alvin Patrimonio played for 10 impressive seasons in the PBA, clinching four MVP plums as well as a reputation for superhuman grit — aided, in no small part, by his record of 596 games played consecutively. It’s a streak that’s only been beaten by Ginebra’s LA Tenorio.


Who he’s up against: Contesting Patrimonio for the Cainta mayoral seat is Ellen Nieto, wife of the incumbent Kit Nieto, who are no stranger to the basketball world themselves. The outgoing mayor is the uncle of the Nieto twins, who just played their rookie year in the PBA.

Francis Zamora (San Juan City)

His sports record: Hailed by The LaSallian for his “tough rebounding and hustle plays”, Zamora was captain ball of the Green Archer team that clinched back-to-back championships back in ‘98 and ‘99.

Who he’s up against: Zamora is running for a second term, and faces Partido ng Masang Pilipino’s Felix Usman. As we’ll see later, Zamora has also assembled other basketball stars to join him in his San Juan election ticket.


Bambol Tolentino (Tagaytay City)

His sports record: As president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino was hailed by the Philippine Sportswriters Association and as an Executive of the Year, after Team Philippines’ historic Tokyo 2020 campaign.

Who he’s up against: Tolentino is running unopposed in Tagaytay City.


Elmer Cabahug (Mandaue)

His sports record: In ten years in the league, Elmer “Boy” Cabahug was a sharpshooter on the paint with 1,955 career field goals, as well as an All-Star MVP nod and two All-Filipino championships. He hung up his jersey in 1998 and joined his clan in politics that same year. But he kept his ties to basketball via a coaching stint in his alma mater, the University of Visayas.

Where he’s running: Cabahug has his eye on the vice-mayoral seat in Mandaue.



Philip Cezar (San Juan)

His sports record: The PBA’s Tapal King had 17 distinguished seasons in the PBA, ten of which were spent with the Crispa Redmanizers. His blocks (1,370 of them, all told) were fearful enough to earn his nickname, but his more than 12,00 points and almost 6,000 boards were proof that he was a legend on both ends of the court.

Where he’s running: Cezar served as vice mayor of San Juan from 1992 to 2001. 21 years later, he’s seeing if he can do it again. He’s running under the banner of the opposition coalition, facing off against Francis Zamora’s running mate Warren Villa.

Binky Favis (Parañaque)

His sports record: The former UST Growling Tiger became a coach in the PBL and the PBA. He clinched four championships as assistant coach for Coca-Cola and Ginebra, and later became head coach of Coca-Cola.

Where he’s running: The Parañaque City councilor is now taking a shot at the vice mayor position.


Dodot Jaworski (Pasig)

His sports record: The son of PBA legend Sonny Jaworski, he was drafted by his father straight out of Ateneo in the ‘95 draft, but had an unmemorable three years in the league.

Where he’s running: Dodot is running mate of re-electionist mayor Vico Sotto in Pasig City.


Buboy Fernandez (Polangui)

His sports record: Manny Pacquiao’s kababata has served as his faithful trainer throughout his long career.

Where he’s running: Fernandez is gunning for a second term as vice mayor of Polangui, Albay.


Ato Agustin (San Fernando)

His sports record: Another member of the PBA’s 25 Greatest list, Agustin helped fuel a San Miguel resurgence in the early ‘90s, and has distinguished himself in the record books as being the only second-round draft pick to emerge as MVP. He made a name for himself with the Beermen, and even became part of the coaching staff of the franchise — a post he holds to this day.

Where he’s running: Agustin is eyeing a councilor seat in San Fernando, in his home province of Pampanga.

Don Allado (San Juan)

His sports record: A teammate of Francis Zamora in La Salle, Allado was known as the King Archer. He later went on to a lengthy sixteen-year career in the PBA.


Where he’s running: He’s part of the four “basketball player” councilors under Francis Zamora’s San Juan slate.

Paul Artadi (San Juan)

His sports record: Acquired by Purefoods as a second-round draft pick, Artadi spent twelve years in the PBA. Just like in their University of the East days, Artadi served as a reliable lieutenant to James Yap, who is now also running with him in San Juan.


Where he’s running: He’s part of the four “basketball player” councilors under Francis Zamora’s San Juan slate.

Gary David (Dinalupihan)

His sports record: David became known for his fearsome shooting in the late 2000s, suiting up for both FedEx and Powerade, as well as the Gilas team that broke the Korean Curse in 2013. The journeyman player then took his act to a variety of different teams until he was waived by Mahindra in 2016.

Where he’s running: David hopes to clinch the councilor post in his hometown of Dinalupihan, Bataan.

Bai Elorde (Parañaque)

His sports record: Bai is part of the third generation of the famous Elorde clan. He got his name from his grandfather, the famous Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, and Bai followed in his footsteps, winning the WBO Asia Pacific featherweight and WBO Oriental lightweight championships.

Where he’s running: He’s vying for a councilor seat in Parañaque, site of the Elorde Sports Center, which was founded in 1983.


Rey Evangelista (Ormoc)

His sports record: In his fourteen years in the PBA, Rey Evangelista suited up for just one team: Purefoods. Anchoring the team’s defensive end, he went on to win four championships before calling it a career in 2008.

Where he’s running: The PBA great has joined Richard Gomez’s ticket in Leyte, running for a council seat in Ormoc.


Dondon Hontiveros (Cebu)

His sports record: Years before he became its councilor, Dondon Hontiveros played for the city’s team in the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association. In 2000, he kicked off his seventeen-year career in the PBA with a stint in Tanduay. Hontiveros capped off his career with a stint in Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League, before retiring in 2019 to enter politics.

Where he’s running: Hontiveros is seeking a second term as Cebu city councilor.

Charo Soriano (Tuguegarao)

Her sports record: The former Ateneo star played from 2003 to 2008, and later became an assistant coach for the Lady Eagles. She co-owns the Perlas Spikers, which had to take a leave of absence from the Premiere Volleyball League this year. Soriano is also a board member of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation.

Where she’s running: She’s running for a seat in the Tuguegarao City Council, where her father Jefferson is currently the incumbent mayor.


Tito Varela (Caloocan)

His sports record: The former security guard was invited to try out for the UE Red Warriors, paving the way for two UAAP championships and a draft pick into the PBA in 1975. He was a teammate of Philip Cezar in the Crispa Redmanizers, and also played for Tanduay and 7Up. He later became a PBA referee.

Where he’s running: He served as the longtime vice mayor of Caloocan from 2001 to 2013, but is now gunning for a council seat in the city’s second district.

Ervic Vijandre (San Juan)

His sports record: Vijandre had a stint in the PBA D-League, and was almost fielded by Rain or Shine after being drafted back in 2013. He is perhaps more popular for his acting career.

Where he’s running: He’s part of the four “basketball player” councilors under Francis Zamora’s San Juan slate.

James Yap Calvin Abueva


James Yap (San Juan)

His sports record: The PBA legend is the only active basketball player pursuing office in the 2022 elections. He took a leave of absence from his team Rain or Shine to focus on his campaign, but prior to the election he was one of the PBA’s most prolific scorers — not to mention one of the league’s most popular players.

Where he’s running: He’s part of the four “basketball player” councilors under Francis Zamora’s San Juan slate.


Bobby Pacquiao

His sports record: The younger brother of Manny Pacquiao scored a string of WBC victories in the mid-2000s, defeating former world champions Carlos Hernandez and Kevin Kelley. He retired from boxing in 2008, and did some stints in basketball leagues set up by his older brother.

His partylist: Alberto “Bobby” Pacquiao’s partylist OFW is seeking reelection in the 2022 polls, and he’ll likely keep his post in Congress if they win.


Michele Gumabao

Her sports record: Gumabao is currently an opposite spiker for the Creamline Cool Smashers, though, like James Yap, she took a leave from her club to focus on her campaign. She helped lead the team to three championships, but was missing in action when Creamline ruled the 2022 PVL Open Conference.


Her partylist: She is the second nominee for the Mothers for Change partylist.

Mikee Romero

His sports record: Romero is the owner of NorthPort Batang Pier, and is also a member of the Philippine national polo team. He was also previously the chairman of the shooting federation.

His partylist: Mikee Romero is a nominee of the 1PacMan Partylist.

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PHOTO: (Pacquiao) AP, (Yap) PBA Images, (Sotto) Lance Agcaoili, (Hontiveros) Jerome Ascano
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