Manny Pacquiao is probably the world's most beloved fighter, covering all combat sports. When he fights, a nation all but shuts down to watch him ply his trade. In the Philippines, he is beyond anything we can imagine as a sports celebrity in the United States. Here, we have many sporting stars, in many major, constantly televised sports. In the Philippines, Pacquiao is far above all.
But his "day job" as a Congressman has stirred up some serious emotion. Pacquiao has sided with the church against a government bill designed to educate the population about safe sex, and provide contraception for the poor.
"God said go forth and multiply," he said, after a meeting with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. "He did not say go and have just one or two children."
The boxer said that he would never have been born to become the world's best pound-for-pound fighter had his parents used birth control.
Pacquiao's stance on the reproductive health (RH) bill has come under fire since his wife Jinkee has used birth control in the past.
Asked by reporters to confirm if his wife indeed turned to contraceptives to control the size of their family, Pacquiao said, "Noon iyon. Pero ngayon hindi na [That was in the past, but now she no longer does that]."
In the long run, I would expect Pacquiao finds the world of politics to be even more brutal and tough to handle than he does his boxing career. This is a situation where he's moving from being an entertainer and a beloved celebrity into having an impact on peoples' every day lives. That's not easy.
Conrado de Quiros of the Philippine National Inquirer weighs in, and it's a glimpse of what Pacquiao's political life could look like:
You look at Pacquiao, you’ll see Rocky and hear "Eye of the Tiger." You look at pretty much everybody else and you’ll hear only Simon and Garfunkel’s "The Boxer," particularly the part that says: "In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade/ And he carries the reminders/ Of every glove that laid him down or cut him/ ’Till he cried out in his anger and his shame/ I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains."
... What the right hand giveth, the left hand taketh away. You can vow all you want to fight poverty, but you fight an effort to give parents a crack at having only as many kids as they can give a life or future to, you won’t beat poverty, you’ll just beat up the poor. Or you’re just going to rearrange their faces into that of Cotto and Margarito. That’s not great. That sucks.
This is what it's going to be like for Congressman Manny Pacquiao, who is being treated as Congressman Manny Pacquiao, not the legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao. Politicians just aren't as easy to love as boxers, and reproductive health bills won't be discouraged quite so easily as Shane Mosley.