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Manny Pacquiao Punches for the Poor at Start of Presidential Campaign

Will his Cinderella story culminate in the presidency?
by Arianne Merez
Feb 8, 2022
Photo/s: Screenshot

Wearing the colors of the Philippine flag, boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao launched his presidential campaign in his hometown General Santos City on Tuesday, the start of a three-month-long journey for the biggest fight of his life.

Pacquiao kicked off his campaign with a motorcade in the afternoon, waving to adoring fans in the city where he said his dream to get out of poverty to become one of the greatest sports icons in the world started.

"Ang pangarap ni Manny Pacquiao, gusto ko maging simula ng inspirasyon sa pagseserbisyo," he told his supporters at the Oval Plaza of his hometown.

"Sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na walang mahirap na inaagrabyado at inaapi...Sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na walang pamilya na walang sariling tahanan dahil yan po ay ginagawa ko na noon pa man hanggang ngayon," he said.

His running mate, conservative lawmaker Lito Atienza, was not able to physically attend the proclamation rally due to a leg injury but joined virtually via Zoom.

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"As I now retire from Congress, I am now given the big opportunity to help Manny Pacquiao realize his dream for you," Atienza said.

Running under the political party Probinsya Muna Development Initiative or PROMDI, the 43-year-old boxing legend is banking on his superstar status and his rags-to-riches story to catapult him to Malacañang victory.

In interviews leading up to Tuesday, he positioned himself as someone who knows what it's like to be poor.

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"Manny has a heart of gold...Si Manny is the man after God's own heart," the senator's wife Jinkee, who wore a shirt emblazoned with the text "Man of Destiny", said of her husband.

The senator's mother Dionisia was also present along with leading senatorial candidate Raffy Tulfo, and beauty queen Bianca Manalo who represented her boyfriend Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who is seeking reelection.

Folk singer Freddie Aguilar, a constant presence during the campaign events of President Rodrigo Duterte back in 2016, performed his own compositions for Pacquiao's kick-off event.

An eight-division boxing world champion, Pacquiao is no longer new to politics, having served as congressman and senator due to his appeal as a sports icon.

Pacquiao, who had allied himself with President Duterte during his senatorial stint, is tied at third with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso with a voter preference of 8% based on the December 2021 Pulse Asia presidential preference survey.

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Leading the race to Malacañang so far is Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, followed by his political nemesis Vice President Leni Robredo who defeated him in the 2016 elections.

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