THERE WAS a fair share of slam dunks and air balls for basketball personalities who ran in the recent National Elections last May 13. Who among them were able to parlay fame on the hardwood floor into votes?
Let’s start from up North in the province of Pampanga where fiery Rain Or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao won as Representative of the Second District. Prior to that, Coach Guiao served three years as a Provincial Board Member and then as Vice Governor of the province for nine years under three different Governors – Mark Lapid, Ed Panlilio and Lilia Pineda.
In the town of Hagonoy, Bulacan former Air 21 guard Christopher Baluyot won a second term in the municipal council. The San Sebastian College alumni played one season with the Express in 2007-2008.
Moving to the Northern tip of Metro Manila, one-time teammates at Sunkist Jack Santiago and Mar Morelos bagged city council seats. Santiago got reelected in Navotas City while Morelos returned to the Valenzuela City council after a three-year absence.
After the maximum nine years as Vice Mayor of Pasig City, Yoyong Martirez goes back to the City Council where he first served three terms from 1995 to 2004. He retired from playing in 1984 as one of the PBA all-time leaders in steals and assists.
In neighboring Antipolo City, Rep. Robbie Puno, who authored the bill that eventually became law granting Filipino citizenship to national cager Marcus Douthit, earned his third and final term as the city’s First District Representative. Prior to being elected in 2007, he served as the pro league’s Marketing Director.
Current Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren is back as a Quezon City Third District after an unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives in 2010. Hence, the Express will have two councilors on the bench in Pumaren and his top assistant Santiago.
In Paranaque City, television commentator Jason Webb is emerging as the top vote getter in the First District race for the city council. Webb, who played for Tanduay and Santa Lucia, first ran and won in 2010 following in the footsteps of his father Freddie, a legendary player, coach, Representative and Senator.
The city seems to like basketball personalities since former Coca-Cola head coach Binky Favis is firmly at the third spot in the city’s Second District. Coach Favis’ feat is remarkable considering he failed in his initial attempt at local politics in 2010.
Finally, in faraway Jolo, Sulu one-time Rain Or Shine forward Jam Alfad nailed a seat in the municipal council. Alfad and Baluyot were college teammates at San Sebastian.
Of course for every success story there is an equivalent tale of failure. Fancy dribbling and accurate shooting was not enough to convince the electorate.
While Webb and Coach Favis were on the winning track, seven-year veteran PBA Joey Marquez was not in his attempt to be Paranaque City’s Second District Representative. The city’s mayor for nine years ending in 2004, he has not returned to public office having lost bids for Representative in 2004 and Mayor in 2010.
Another player who failed to get back into office is Tito Varela, who ran for Vice Mayor in Caloocan City, a post he held from 2001 to 2010. The former referee and Crispa guard lost in the 2010 congressional race.
1980 Rookie of the Year Willy Generalao is just outside of the municipal council winners’ circle in Cainta, Rizal. At ninth place, he still has a chance to grab the eighth and final slot.
While his elder brother ER was winning as Governor, Gherome Ejercito was not able to translate this into votes in his attempt to become a Laguna Provincial Board Member for the First District. Over in the town of Los Banos, Bryan Gahol missed out on a spot in the municipal council.
1992 Most Valuable Player Ato Agustin lost in his try to wrest the Vice Mayor position in the City of San Fernando. Agustin was an incumbent city councilor.
Rodney Santos was known for his slashing moves to the basket but that was not enough to convince the people of Meycauayan, Bulacan to reward him with a council seat.
Finally, the island of Cebu may be a rich source of PBA talent but the ex-pros did miserably. Calvin Tuadles, who played for Shell from 1989 to 1992, lost in the city council race in Danao City.
Shooter Boy Cabahug faced a tough task to unseat two incumbents in the three-man race for two Sixth District spots in the provincial board. Cabahug served several terms as a Mandaue City Councilor starting in 1998, his final PBA season with Santa Lucia.
Aside from these basketball stars, a lot of celebrities from show business and entertainment have had varying levels of success in their stab at politics this year. Hopefully, this is a sign of a maturing voting population wherein they look beyond the glitter of the candidate’s celebrity status, focusing more on platforms and stands on issues.