Who’s pulling Manny’s leg?
Life in the ring may have been spectacular for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, but his wholesale (that is, pakyaw) defeat in the hands in the 2007 elections should serve a lesson. He did not only lose a good fortune to opportunistic aides, he was also clobbered in his own hometown.
But it looks like the persistent fighter that he is, Manny has definitely set his sight in winning a congressional seat in his wife’s hometown. If the grapevines (that is, rumor mills) are to be believed, the political war chest of Pacquiao will involve some P400 million, an amount that’s roughly the equivalent of the pork barrel a legislator gets over a six-year period in Congress at P70 million per annum.
Like in Gen. Santos City, his original turf, he is pitted against a powerful clan. Make it two clans, in fact. At GSC, he tried executing a political uppercut to the chin, but the Antonino clan gave Manny a right hook to the jaw. It was not a knockout, but the scores showed unimpeachable disparity.
To the uninformed, the Antonino family has a proud political lineage. Patriarch Gaudencio An-tonino was a senator-reelectionist, and so was wife Magnolia Wellborn who substituted for her spouse who died a day before Election Day. Following their footsteps were son Adelbert, his wife Lualhati and their daughter, the feisty opposition Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who is in her final term, and another Antonino son, Rodolfo, a congressman of Nueva Ecija (4th District).
In Davao City, the late Antonino patriarch was known for his logging activities. His family used to be a major stockholder of the University of Mindanao (then Mindanao Colleges) and still owns prime city lots that include the property across Apo View Hotel (with a partly burned apartment) and the old struc-ture across Magsaysay Park known as Antwel (Antonino-Welborn) building.
In Sarangani, Manny will be running against Roy Chiongbian, son of former assemblyman and later congressman James Chiongbian and wife Priscilla, the first governor of Sarangani. Another Chiong-bian in active politics is Sarangani vice-governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, a nephew of Roy. The family of Roy are involved in international shipping (in contrast to patriarch James brother, William, who was to interisland shipping (remember the William Lines?) business.
But that’s not the only clan that Manny had to fight head-on; he will also collide with Sarangani Gov. Miguel ‘Migs’ Dominguez, the son of former presidential assistant for Mindanao and presidential adviser Paul Rene Dominguez. His mother is Rosvida Alcantara, heir to a multi-billion-peso business em-pire and part-owner of the famous Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City.
Briefly said, Pacquaio is running in Sarangani with four (4) handicaps, namely: (1) the joint power purse of a powerful alliance; (2) the candidates that are ‘natives’ to the province; (3) two powerful clans; and (4) political experience and track record. With all these disadvantages, who’s pulling Manny’s leg?
Roy will be running under the Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (SARRO) Party, the local party founded by his parents, while Manny is running in his own political party, the Peo-ple’s Champ Movement (PCM).