MANILA, Philippines – Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is willing to serve as a “poster boy” for the country’s tourism industry and in peace talks with Muslim separatist rebels in the south, where he is held in high regard.
Pacquiao expressed this willingness in a joint press conference with President Benigno Aquino III Saturday in Malacanang, following his arrival earlier in the day from the US where he won the super welterweight crown, his eighth in as many divisions, against Antonio Margarito last November 14 (Manila time).
But Aquino said the government did not want to ask too much from Pacquiao, saying, “We have too many tasks for Manny.”
Aquino led the welcome for Pacquiao who, in turn, gave the President a miniature replica of his boxing championship belt and a souvenir “Team Pacquiao” T-shirt.
Pacquiao, 31, said that he would help the country as a congressman after winning a historic eighth world title.
“I don’t want to say I will retire [from boxing.] There are still some fights in my future, but for now, let us forget boxing and focus on service… especially helping those in my district,” Pacquiao told reporters.
Pacquiao, who was elected congressman of the impoverished southern province of Sarangani in May, brushed aside questions he would someday run for president.
“I am not that ambitious. That is not in my thoughts now. My work as a congressman, that is my focus,” he replied.
Pacquiao is scheduled to give a concert later this Saturday at a Metro Manila mall before flying on Thursday to General Santos