MANILA, Philippines —
As the titles, honors and money started pouring in, so did distractions.
Politicians, minor actors and an assortment of hangers-on formed his huge entourage.
“You only need a Ferris wheel and his training camp would have been a circus,” Tolentino said.
In a nation where celebrities, money and politics equal a winning formula, Pacquiao played his card by running for Congress in 2007, but lost.
The most popular face in town, he turned to crooning his own songs. His picture endorsed countless products. He’s a regular on TV, and hosts his own show. He’s made a movie. Another passion is cock fighting, a traditional past time in the Philippines.
He was Pacquiao Inc.
Showbiz “takes a lot of time, a lot of energy. You have to prepare for these shows,” said boxing commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz. “(Pacquiao) loses focus because he has so many things to worry about and attend to.”
Pacquiao was elected to Congress from his southern Sarangani province in 2010, and has announced he will run for re-election next year. Taking a cue from his political allies, he appears to be building a political organization, with his wife, Jinkee, running for vice governor, and younger brother, Rogelio, for congress in neighboring South Cotabato province.
In the meantime, he promised to clean up his act: no more gambling, drinking and womanizing, and took up preaching the Bible. Some called it a public relations stunt for a budding politician, but Pacquiao insisted it was for real.
“To those who think that way, let us leave them be. I will pray for them. Even Jesus Christ, even after he performed miracles, no one believed him, what more for a sinner like me,” he said, adding he did not want to be a pastor but share how “the Lord changed my life.”