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Opinion
Matthew Brooker

Manny Pacquiao Isn’t the Hero the Philippines Needs

A celebrity presidency would extend the strongman-savior syndrome holding the country back. Look instead to the Aquino model.

The presidency is one title bout Manny Pacquiao should lose.

The presidency is one title bout Manny Pacquiao should lose.

Photographer: Christian Petersen/Getty

Manny Pacquiao is running to be president of the Philippines. In a country obsessed with celebrity culture, the candidacy of its most famous son feels as inevitable as night following day. That’s reason enough for caution.

Pacquiao, or “Pac-Man,” is rightly regarded as a hero. A lightning-quick boxer of exceptional aggression and bravery, he is the only man to have held titles at eight different weight divisions, and ranks among the greatest of all time in his sport. The 42-year-old also has a compelling life story, having grown up in extreme poverty in the southern Philippines. Pacquiao presents himself as a champion of the poor and has been feted regularly for his philanthropy. What’s not to like?