Merry mix of politics and religion at Pacquiao’s 37th birthday

Edwin G. Espejo

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Merry mix of politics and religion at Pacquiao’s 37th birthday
Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao gives away a car, motorcycles, and TV sets at his birthday party attended by his presidential candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – It was an “austere” party compared to similar gatherings in the last 5 years, but the birthday celebration of Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao on Thursday, December 17, was nonetheless star-studded.

This time, though, his celebrity guests were mostly from the world of politics, including the boxing champ’s presidential candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay; and members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate, which Pacquiao is part of.
Pacquiao’s celebration was a merry mix of politics and religion, a fact that did not escape the Vice President.
Binay said it was his first time to attend a birthday celebration full of “religious fervor.” He was apparently referring to the nearly two hours of gospel and worship songs by renowned singer and composer Donald James “Don” Moen during the party.
Binay was among the politicians seated at Pacquiao’s table, along with UNA secretary general Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.


Unlike the boxer’s past birthday celebrations, politicians – not entertainment stars – took center stage. Nearly all the other UNA senatorial candidates were in town to greet Pacquiao on his 37th birthday.  
Instead of free-flowing wine and alcoholic beverages that marked his previous parties, orange juice, sodas, and water were served to the guests.
Since turning into a born-again Christian, Pacquiao has not been seen drinking his favorite San Miguel Light beer in public.  He has also given up gambling and has confessed and renounced his “womanizing” past.

In a video presentation at the celebration, Pacquiao thanked God for his blessings in and recounted his “deprived” childhood.
His is the classic and quintessential rags-to-riches story: Sleeping on cardboard sheets in alleys and dingy corners of Manila in search of fortune, Pacquiao eventually ended up as one of the richest athletes in the history of boxing; if one may add, in the world of sports.
To share his blessings, the 8-division world boxing champion gave away a brand new car on his birthday, which went to Pacquiao household regular Malou Masangkay. Five other guests each went home with Honda XRM motorcycle, and a few more won 40-inch TV sets.

Binay vs Duterte in champ’s camp?

During the party, Pacquiao and Binay heaped praises on one other – the boxer called the Vice President the “next president” while Binay called him the “next senator,” when they took the ornate stage accentuated by red carpet and Greek columns.

PRAISES. Vice President Jejomar Binay heaps praises on Manny Pacquiao during the latter's birthday party on December 17, 2015
But while Binay and Pacquiao renewed their political kinship and friendship, a mini-revolt is reportedly shaping up in the camp of the People’s Champ.
Earlier in the week, the local station of ABS-CBN reported that city councilors belonging to the Pacquiao’s People’s Champ Movement declared that they are throwing their support to the Mindanaoan presidential bet, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Councilors Rosalita Nuñez and Franklin Gacal Jr, both original and long-time local stalwarts of the PDP-Laban, said they have made their intentions known to Pacquiao long before.
Insiders said there were strong suggestions to invite the maverick Duterte to the party, who is also a friend of Pacquiao.
The People’s Champ Movement – reportedly including Pacquiao – was poised to cast its lot with the Davao mayor until Duterte “failed” to file a certificate of candidacy for president on October 16.

Duterte later filed his COC for president on November 27, as a substitute candidate to PDP-Laban bet Martin Diño. He reaffirmed this on December 8.
Pacquiao has said he remains committed to Binay but he will respect the decisions of his partymates on whom to support in 2016. –

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