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Pacquing a punch

Article - July 20, 2011
Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao turned to politics to better serve his fellow countrymen
The nation looks to Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao as a national hero, a sports god, and an inspiration because he went from nothing to becoming a congressman in the international arena and an ambassador for the Philippines.

He has been named “one of the most influential people today in the world,” and number one pound-for-pound boxing champion of the world. Nonetheless, one of Mr. Pacquiao’s main goals at the end of the day is helping the poor and his fellow Filipinos as congressman for the Sarangani region in Mindanao.

Mr. Pacquiao is very passionate about his work because of his own personal experience with poverty and aims to focus on development on a national level despite just being congressman for the Sarangani region.

“I entered politics because I want to help people,” he says. “I know what they are feeling and what they need our assistance with because I have been in that situation during my lifetime.”

Mr. Pacquiao is focusing on creating a provincial hospital and provincial university for the Sarangani population of over half a million, with his vision of teaching the people to work and how to benefit from earning an income. “We educate them on how to get the most from their talents, and help them learn the required skill sets for a particular job,” he says. “I’m also starting a free education program for children whose families cannot afford to send them to school, because if not, who will help them?”

He is working alongside President Aquino to improve and develop Sarangani, and so far, the President has been very helpful and is likely to support all of Mr. Pacquiao’s projects. Also the vice-chairman of the House Committee on Youth and Sports, Mr. Pacquiao plans to align the sports program to promote not only boxing, but all sports to help cultivate the Filipino youth.

To give the youth the opportunities for education and a bright future, Mr. Pacquiao suggests that the government sets aside funding for education and educational infrastructure like classrooms, so that the children have more space to learn. In addition to more funding, Mr. Pacquiao has suggested leveling up the quality of education in the country by continuing teachers’ education and assessment, so that educators will need to keep refreshing their qualifications.

As the congressman and boxer works with the government to improve education, he has also stressed how attracting private investors can play a major part in improving the country.

“I want people to understand I am a businessman, who has imported a billion dollar boxing industry to the Philippines,” he says. “As a congressman, one of my many goals is to create opportunities beyond boxing for my fellow Filipinos by helping to bring billions more in other industries and commerce.”

Mr. Pacquiao believes the Philippines can achieve economic development if the government would focus more on improving security and stability to keep people safe and encourage people to invest. He knows that the government is able to help people if they really want to, but the problem of corruption stands. “The future of our country depends on us being united to help to improve our country,” he says.

He recognizes that the image people have of the Philippines is not particularly good, but Mr. Pacquiao is optimistic and wants to challenge the negative perception of the country by engaging international media to promote the true richness of the Philippines. “The Philippines is a beautiful country and hopefully we can encourage more people to come and discover that.”