Manny Pacquiao's recent visit to President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III earned mixed reactions from both political and casual observers.
The world-renowned boxer turned Sarangani congressman supported Aquino's rival in the May elections, presidential candidate Manuel "Manny" Villar. Pacquiao ran under Villar's Nacionalista Party and publicly attacked Aquino by belittling his credentials as a senator.
"Laban nang laban wala namang napatunayan," was Pacquiao's spiel in one of Villar's many political ads aired on national television at the height of the campaign.
Kris Aquino defended her brother through her Twitter account by taking a swipe at Pacquiao: "In politics, 'Noy has won 3 straight terms sa Congress & won almost 15 million votes sa Senatorial in 2007. How sad na he [Pacquiao] didn't think na in politics–knock out nga sya."
The popular TV talk-show host was referring to Pacquiao's failed congress bid in 2007 when he ran for the 1st District of South Cotabato.
SHIFTING ALLIANCES. Pacquiao's "courtesy call" to Aquino in Times Street, Quezon City, took place a few days after Villar conceded Aquino's victory.
Some political observers have raised their eyebrows on Pacquiao's sudden change of heart.
Pundits recalled Pacquiao's apparent closeness with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, only to join Villar's party at the last minute.
When the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) won the championship title in the 2007-2008 season, Pacquiao openly expressed being an "ardent fan" of the Celtics.
The Celtics led by its superstars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen even invaded the Filipino ring warrior's locker room after knocking down David Diaz in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 2008.
A year later, however, Manny was singing praises to Los Angeles Lakers main man Kobe Bryant.
Interestingly, Kobe's Lakers were the same team defeated by the Celtics in the championship during the previous year. The Los Angeles Lakers would eventually make a return trip to the NBA Finals this time against the younger crew of the Orlando Magic. The Lakers easily won the series to claim the franchise's 16th title overall.
Bryant and Pacquiao are both endorsers of Nike and the two athletes met in the States during a pictorial. The NBA scoring machine at the time was scheduled to visit Manila as part of a promotional activity.
"Sabi ko sa kanya, mula ngayon, ako ay isa nang ganap na Lakers fan at hihintayin ko siya sa Pilipinas sa darating na araw para naman maipakita ko rin ang hospitality na naging sikat sa ating mga Pilipino," wrote Pacquiao on his "Kumbinasyon" sports column.
From Arroyo to Villar. From Villar to Aquino. From Boston Celtics to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The People's Champ looks quite prone to that dreaded yet ridiculed "balimbing" syndrome.
Politicians are notorious for jumping from one coalition to another, of course. Manny Pacquiao exchanging pleasantries with the incoming President is a scene that's sure to be replicated by others as the weeks unfold.
"Para sa akin, hindi importante kung anong partido, ang importante makadala ako ng mga project. Siyempre si Noynoy ang nanalo, dapat sinusuportahan ang administrasyon, kasi pag di tayo susuporta, di tayo uunlad," Pacquiao explained in an interview with ABS-CBN.
Manny Pacquiao is certainly learning the jabs and hooks needed to last in the political arena.