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Manny still 'waiting for sign’ to run for president

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Manny still 'waiting for signâ to run for president
Manny’s wife Jinkee joins the picture-taking shortly before the boxing champ left for the US for his fight against Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21 in Las Vegas.
STAR / File

Despite being widely believed to be eyeing the highest post in the country, Sen. Manny Pacquiao is still “waiting for a sign” to run for president in the 2022 national elections.

That’s according to family friend Annabelle Rama, based on a conversation she had with the boxing idol at his Forbes Park mansion on Saturday, just before he flew to the US for his fight with Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21 in Las Vegas.

In an interview with The STAR, the veteran talent manager recalled parts of her roughly two-hour talk with her fellow Bisaya about his political plans over dinner of munggo and alugbati: “Sabi ko, Manny, tatakbo ka ba talaga (as president), Dong? Sabi niya, ‘Actually, di pa talaga ako sure. Pinag-iisipan ko pa rin.’

“Pero kasi yung presidente, destiny yan, sabi niya. ‘Pag binigay sa akin sa itaas, tatanggapin ko ng maayos. Pero ‘pag wala talagang sign for me to be in a higher position, di naman ako nagmamadali, sabi niya sa akin. Pwede naman ako tumakbo ulit ng senator o ano ba. Inaantay-antay ko lang kasi di ko talaga alam, Tita, as of now. Di pa ako makapag-decide, sabi niya.”

Annabelle said that the 42-year-old Manny didn’t say what kind of sign he was waiting for. “Ewan ko kung anong sign kasi sabi niya sa akin, ‘Nag-pe-prepare na rin ako’ kasi mamaya bigla nalang sasabihin na siya pala. Minsan may sign yan ‘Day ibibigay ng Diyos eh, kung dapat ba o hindi, ganun naman yun, di ba?”

Sen. Manny Pacquiao (center) welcomes Annabelle Rama (right) and her niece, Charissa Rama, into the spacious master bedroom.

The Gutierrez family matriarch also recalled asking Manny’s wife Jinkee if she was ready to be the country’s First Lady.

“Sabi ko kay Jinkee, ‘Day, ready ka ba maging First Lady?’ Tumawa lang, ‘Tita naman, sana magdilang anghel ka,’ sabi sa akin. ‘Siempre, (di) naman masamang mangarap,’ sabi niya, ‘pero wala pa sa ulo ko yan.’”

Because they talked inside the main bedroom, where the boxing champ-turned-politico and his wife have his and her closets, Annabelle was surprised to discover that it is Jinkee who personally prepares Manny’s things before every trip.

“Sabi ko, Manny, ‘Swerte ka rin kay Jinkee,’ talagang ma-serbisyo si Jinkee sa kanya, bilib ako. Lahat ng time niya na kay Pacquiao. Dumating lang si Manny, natataranta na siya, ‘Ang pagkain ni Manny! Ang pagkain ni Manny!’ ganyan-ganyan. Well, pareho lang kami hahaha, kaya di kami kaya iwan ng asawa.”

Annabelle, whose Gutierrez brood never misses a Pacquiao boxing fight (except perhaps this year because of the pandemic), said she can vouch for Manny that he has so far stayed the same from when she first knew him from many years back.

“Hindi siya nagbabago sa ugali niya, ‘pag kaibigan-kaibigan unlike ibang tao dyan, tatakbo lang presidente wala ng kilala, di na ako kilala. Kita kami, kilay nalang pinapaandar sa akin ‘Day, oh my god, hahaha! Ano ba naman yung batiin ka lang, hindi naman ako hihingi ng favor. But I don’t want to mention names kasi alam naman niya kung sino siya,” said Annabelle, who refused to reveal the identity of the person she’s referring to.

Annabelle was also able to ask about the latest issue between President Rodrigo Duterte and Manny. Their “verbal tussle” has been making headlines these past few days. The President recently challenged Manny, a political party mate and longtime ally, to back up his claims that corruption under the present administration is allegedly three times worse than its predecessors.

“Magkaaway ba kayo Dong? Sabi niya, ‘Dili uy, kaibigan kami niyan eh… Di ko naman siya kinakalaban, parang tinulungan ko lang siya kasi marami akong nakikita, narinig na ‘di maganda sa ilalim (niya), baka di niya alam?’” said Annabelle, known as one of the celebrity supporters of Duterte during the 2016 presidential elections.

She first met then Davao City Mayor Duterte in January 2015, when he condoled with her family at the wake of her late brother and known barangay chairman in Cebu, George Rama. Annabelle got introduced to Manny because her brother was good friends with him.

“Included yan si Manny sa prayers ko na ang decision niya ay tama, i-guide siya sana (kasi) nag-a-attend ako ng Mass sa TV every day. Pati si Digong maging healthy, successful and ‘wag na siya intrigahin, ganyan-ganyan, at si (former Pres.) Erap (Estrada)... Mga idol ko kasama ko sa mga pinag-pi-pray ko,” added Annabelle, who was joined by her aspiring beauty queen niece from her late brother, Charissa Rama, during the visit.

Manny might still be “undecided” about the 2022 political race, but Annabelle observed that he was all set to step anew into the boxing ring. “Relax siya, ‘Day, prepared siya sa boxing.”

MANNY PACQUIAO

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