Presidential bets star in fight ads
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Nope, the swooshes on Manny Pacquiao’s shorts were still those of the Oregon-based shoemaker Nike and not the check sign of Manuel Villar, presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
But don’t be sorry if you were confused because Villar and other politicians competed with corporate giants Smart Communications Inc. and San Miguel Corp., and adhesives and animal feeds for valuable ad space on what was so far the highest-rated TV broadcast of the year.
Villar did not let down Pacquiao, his biggest endorser, as he placed the biggest number of ads among non-corporations in the latter’s fight with Joshua Clottey. Villar placed a significant number of political commercials during the undercard.
Draw for Villar, Aquino
But Villar and rival Benigno Aquino III were even during the broadcast of the main event on free television—from the singing of the national anthems (of the fighters and of the host country) to the declaration of the Filipino boxing icon as the winner by unanimous decision.
By the Inquirer’s count, Aquino of the Liberal Party (LP) and Villar each had five campaign ads during the free TV’s 15 commercial breaks.
Aquino’s ad saw him in a monologue recounting the Filipinos’ affection for his departed parents—ex-Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and President Corazon Aquino.
Villar’s handlers chose to run a campaign ditty sang by street urchins romanticizing his rags-to-riches story.
Francis Pangilinan, LP campaign manager, said: “We know we can never match the war chest of our opponent but we need to ensure that we are able to place our ads in key time slots and programs to ensure optimal use of our funds.”
An official of Villar’s campaign team, who requested anonymity, said the NP standard-bearer’s ads were meant as a gesture of support for Pacquiao who has agreed to campaign for the billionaire.
The El Shaddai-backed Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party-list group had three ads during the main event.
Buhay is represented in the House of Representatives by Irwin Tieng, whose family owns the Solar group of companies, which has the Philippine broadcast rights to Pacquiao’s fights.
Its ad featured a photograph and voice of El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde who encouraged voters to shade the oval beside Buhay on the list of party-list groups on the ballot.
Three other political ads were broadcast during the 12-round bout in Arlington, Texas, but none of them were for presidential candidates.
LP senatorial candidate Ralph Recto had one ad placement in the main event. He ran several ads featuring him and wife Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos and their children in the boxing undercard.
Erwin, a son of Ephraim Genuino, chair of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., also ran an ad in the main event. Erwin is running for a congressional seat in the second district of Makati City against the daughter of outgoing Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Abigail.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also featured in a thinly veiled political ad sponsored by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes in the main event. It showcased the legacy of her nine-year administration. Ms Arroyo is running for a congressional seat in her home province, Pampanga.
Olivar on radio
A few minutes after Pacquiao won, deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar was on radio to congratulate Pacquiao who he said was able to prove yet again the “Filipino’s talent and determination set us apart from the rest of the world.”
In a statement he read over dzBB radio, Olivar said the country was “united in prayer” and support for the people’s champ, and hoped this “same unity will see us through yet another chapter in our nation’s history” when the people go to the polls in May to choose their next leaders.
Since Ms Arroyo came to power in 2001, Pacquiao had been in 24 fights.
In a statement, Villar said Pacquiao’s win over Clottey, a Ghanaian, was yet another proof that with “perseverance (anyone) can overcome any obstacle,” echoing his own rags-to-riches campaign strategy.
Pacquiao is running for Congress in the lone district of Sarangani province under the Villar ticket.
The boxer was a staunch ally of Ms Arroyo before defecting to the NP camp.
Joseph Estrada said he rooted for Pacquiao but the deposed president, who is seeking a return to Malacañang, said he would deliver the knockout punch on Pacquiao’s presidential candidate as soon as the boxer moved to the political arena.
Pacquiao earlier promised to campaign for Villar when he returns to the country after his fight.
Estrada downplayed the impact of a Pacquiao endorsement of Villar, saying the boxer himself failed to win in the 2007 congressional race. “He campaigned for himself and what happened?” Estrada asked.
Estrada went on citing the case of Ali Atienza, who got the support of Pacquiao in the 2007 mayoral race in Manila but still lost. “(Villar) might end up like him (Atienza),” he warned.
The former President said he was glued on his TV set at his San Juan residence, much like millions of Filipinos who saw the fight at venues like barangay halls, basketball courts, restaurants and movie houses.
“There was nothing exciting in the fight. There was no knockout. The opponent didn’t want to fight. He was all defense,” Estrada said.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro praised Pacquiao for his resounding victory over Clottey.
“Manny Pacquiao should inspire Filipinos that they can achieve excellence on a global level, and do great things if they truly set their hearts and minds into doing it,” Teodoro said in a statement.
His running mate, Edu Manzano, was “too sick” to watch the fight televised from Texas. “Edu is sick, he lost his voice. He’s been sleeping the whole day,” Manzano’s media coordinator, Cesar Cortes, said.
The Philippines needs a good coach just like Pacquiao does, Sen. Richard Gordon said after watching Pacquiao’s win.
Gordon said: “The country has the right to be euphoric. We have very few victories in the country and Pacquiao has come to symbolize our frustrations and hopes.”
But he said Filipinos should learn from Pacquiao’s victory earned through hard work and discipline.
“We also need a good coach, a good leader like Freddie Roach who has integrity and a good track record,” Gordon said.
Gordon canceled his scheduled campaign activities Sunday to watch the fight. He flew from Camarines Sur to join 433 other fans who watched the 12-round fight at Kamayan Restaurant on Padre Faura Avenue in Manila.
Not a priority
Pacquiao barely registered in Nicanor Perlas’ list of priorities on Sunday, as he spent his morning making long distance phone calls to staff and volunteers in Cebu, Iloilo and other places in the Visayas.
He didn’t even know about Pacquiao’s unanimous 12th-round victory over Clottey until the Inquirer called him up seeking a reaction.
“Usually, it’s my son (Christopher Michael) who sends me a text message telling me about the result. He was probably disappointed it wasn’t a knockout,” he said.
Politicians made sure that voters would remember them on May 10 when they sponsored the live telecast of the fight in village gymnasiums and covered courts in the provinces.
They paid for screening of the fight for voters in their areas.
In the City of San Fernando, pay-per-view hits dropped by 30 percent compared with the December 2009 fight of Pacquiao, according to Satellite Cable Network (SCN), the provider in the Pampanga capital.
“Maybe [because] of Pacquiao’s 8 to 1 advantage [over Clottey],” SCN president Allan Dungao said.
In Pangasinan, most of those who watched the fight at the atrium of CSI Mall in Dagupan City said they were disappointed that Pacquiao failed to win via knockout.
For a few hours, Mindanao was without a power outage as the National Power Corp. kept its promise that there would be no rotating brownouts during the fight.
But the uninterrupted power supply was short-lived. As the clock struck 3 p.m., it was back to brownouts. Reports from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Christine Avendaño, Nikko Dizon, Christian V. Esguerra, Fe Zamora, Edson C. Tandoc Jr., and DJ Yap in Manila; Tonette Orejas and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon