Manic Manny?

These past days I was conducting series of lectures in General Santos City and the nearby Sarangani Province. We discussed effective management and good governance, national and political situationer, and integrity and anticorruption issues among others. Interestingly, we held mock elections as part of understanding the upcoming 2010 elections. The mock elections focused -- obviously -- on the multi-awarded World Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao, who ran and lost in General Santos, and now planning to run in Sarangani.

The General Santos audiences were a mixture of professionals and multisectoral groups, who analyzed why Manny lost in the city. Among many reasons, the most common analysis they cited -- proudly -- was that because the people in General Santos City were (and continue to be) intelligent voters! They love Manny the World Boxer, but they are more discerning to say that the Boxer can be an effective Congressman. Not money, not prestige, not even popularity -- but sheer intelligence. This is how many in General Santos City feel and decide when it comes to electing their leaders (of course there is also the minority who really support Manny).

So the analysis went to why Manny chose Sarangani, realizing that he can never win in General Santos. Manny also did not choose Manila, Laguna or even Davao where he can easily establish residency (he has mansions in these places). Is he thinking that he can easily make it in Sarangani? Is he thinking that the people in Sarangani are not the breed of intelligent voters? There were pros and cons, emotional discussions on either side of the camp.

In one Sarangani seminar, we had a mock election on who they will vote as the lone Representative of the province. The audience consisted of provincial and municipal officials -- mostly Administrative Officers and Heads of Offices. There were 40 of them.

Of the 40 who voted, 15 officials (38%) said they will vote for Roy Chiongbian, who is touted to replace his father in Congress. Only 8 officials (20%) voted for Manny Pacquiao. Interestingly, there were 17 officials (43%) who were undecided!

The reasons given for voting undecided --- they are not really sure if Manny Pacquiao knows how to legislate; not sure if Manny Pacquiao has the competence to enter into politics and governance; not sure of who will really run in 2010; and they will still have to study their candidates.

While it is really too early to conclude, the Sarangani mock election showed that the people (at least those who participated) were thinking people -- the mark of intelligent voters! The big margin of undecided voters is a revelation.

But there is one question that fortunately unified the participants -- they all wonder why Manny needs to run and join politics (again a mark of intelligence)
. Manny already has all the pesos (money), prestige and popularity, and so he now goes for power! Is Manny becoming manic in going for power? Even if he already has all that he has? Is Manny frantic in looking for places where he can win? Is he manically satisfying the insatiable urge for getting more, at all cost?

There's a lot to learn from the intelligent voters of General Santos City. If Manny Pacquiao loses in Sarangani, the province must be endowed with intelligent voters. If he wins, the people must belong to a different breed of intelligence.

Or by any good chance, by a heavenly intervention, Manny Pacquiao suddenly realizes that the boxing ring is totally different from the political ring, and that he lacks the necessary skills and competencies needed for technocracy, and by so realizing he decides to reconsider his political plans and instead endeavor to prepare himself in the future, I should say Manny Pacquiao is not just an excellent sportsman! He should be an intelligent man!

May God bless the people of Sarangani!