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SPORTSMEN IN THE PHILIPPINE SENATE


PhilBoxing.com




First it was football great Lorenzo Tanada, a mainstay of two Philippine teams in the now-defunct Far Eastern Games, precursor of the now Asian Games, who, upon retirement from the sport he loved, was to become a senator.

Basketball luminaries Ambrosio Padilla, Robert Jaworski and Freddie Webb followed in Tanada's footstep later to, likewise, become member of the Upper Chamber of Congress.

Now comes boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who, only last Thursday was proclaimed member of the Philippine Senate after winning one of he 12 seats at stake in the general elections held last May 9 garnering 16.5 million votes, ending up seventh.

Like his four predecessors, Pacquiao used his immense popularity earned from carrying the red-white and blue flag in invading the world's different sporting arenas in quest of honor and fame for the country.

Like Tanada, Padilla, Jaworski and Webb, Pacquiao etched the Philippines in the international sporting map besides bringing respect and adulation to the name Filipino among people on planet earth.

And like Tanada and Padilla, both deceased, but who earlier in their political careers became presidential timbers because of their eloquence and brilliance displayed in the august hall of the senate, and Jaworski and Webb, who both authored landmark legislation that affected the lives of their countrymen, especially athletes, Pacquiao vowed to accept the challenge and be of service to his people no longer atop the ring but as government worker.

"My victory is the victory of our people," the 37-year-old two-time Sarangani Province Congressman told this writer in an interview at his Makati residence the night following his proclamation. "I want to reiterate what I have been telling our people during he campaign that I will not let them down."

"I would like to assure them that I will do everything for God and country. Gaya ng mga nauna sa aking dati ring atleta, magsisilbi ako sa bayan sa pamamagitan ng serbisyo publiko ng walang bahid pagi-imbot. Walang halong kasakiman," the only man on earth to win world championships in eight weight classes stressed.

"Iisa lamang ang mensaheng ipinaablot ng mga nagtiwala sa akin: Filipinos want their government back in the hands of the ordinary people, the poor who understand what their problems are and how to solve them . They want leaders who would stand up for their aspirations and share their goals."

"Makaaasa silang ibibigay ko ang serbisyono ng gusto nila, gaya ng serbisyong ibinigay ko sa aking mga nasasakupan noong kongresista pa lamang ako. Pabahay sa mas nakararami. Trabaho. Lahat ng mga pangangailangan tulad ng ospital at gamot sa may karamdaman, eskuwelahan para sa mga bata, etc."

"Sabi ng ilan, kami daw mga atleta, lalo na yung mga galing sa hirap at walang edukasyon ay walang kakayahang manilbihan sa pamahalaan," he said. "The late Senators Padilla and Tanada had belied that. So did Senators Jaworski and Webb. And others who have and still in the government service in different capacities. Nandito ako para ituloy ang mga di pa nila natapos."

The father of five with wife Jinkee, the outgoing Sarangani Vice Governor, referring to other Filipino athletes and sportsmen who, at one time or another, served or still functioning as congressmen, governor, mayors and even councilors.

"It is for these reasons that I am accepting the challenge with utmost humility and gratitude. To show to the non-believers that we athletes have the capacity to put into words what they cannot express, to champion the causes closest to their hearts and serve our people in a higher and greater level," the newly-elected senator blurted out.

Padilla and Tanada, who both became lawyers after hanging their playing uniforms, carried the country's colors in the Far Eastern Games twice each in their favorite events. The former in the 1930 and 1934 editions of the soon-to-be Asiad were he helped the national basketball team win the last two of the Philippines' nine overall title conquests.

Padilla is best remembered though as the skipper of the PH five that ended up fifth in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games when basketball was first played. The Padilla-led squad won four and lost only once, to eventual champion United States, and cloud have brought home the silver medal had it not for the quirk of tournament format.

Tanada was stalwart of the national football teams that managed a pair of silver medal finishes in the 1923 and 1925 FEG.
Jaworski, a three-time Asian Gamer, was a member of the 1973 Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA-Asia) champion PH squad that also played in the 1974 World Championship. As a senator, he authored, to mention a few, , Rep. Act 9064 otherwise known as the "National Athletes, Coaches and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001, and the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame Law.

Webb, a member of the 1972 Munich Olympics basketball squad, sponsored Rep. Act 6047, the Law that created the Philippine Sports Commission in the Lower House.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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