How Popular Is Manny Pacquiao? Even the Tax Man Likes Him

Filipino Fighter Adds Taxes to His List of Endorsements

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Roger Pe
Roger Pe

The Philippine government's Bureau of Interval Revenue is on the ropes. Last year, the agency missed its collection target by 7.9% on slower economic growth. In the first two months of the year, tax collection fell short by 2%.

> So now the archipelago's tax agency doing what any number of local and international brands have done when they need a lift. It's brought in Manny Pacquiao. On March 25, the government agency announced it was using the popular Filipino boxer to speak in behalf of the government bureau and persuade Filipinos to pay their taxes and do it early to avoid penalty.

Why Mr. Pacquiao? His sincerity and magnetic influence across the entire nation is beyond comprehension. Everyt ime he fights, the entire country is at standstill.

Earlier this month, he went to the BIR headquarters to personally file his 2008 ITR and paid the tax due in the presence of BIR Commissioner Sixto Esquivias. Mr. Pacquiao's voluntary moves to pay his taxes early and pledge to be a visible example of a good taxpayer led to the production of the ad, which include Mr. Esquivias and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves.

When Mr. Pacquiao endorses a brand expect it to rise not only in recall charts but also in sales. To date, the boxer has appeared in numerous local and foreign TV spots for beer, pain killers, karaoke, telecom, burgers and more. The most notable is a Nike series that features Kobe Bryant, Maria Sharapova, Ronaldo, Roger Federer and Chinese hurdler hero Liu Xiang.

But what makes Mr. Pacquiao a heavyweight popular, loved not just by Filipinos but citizens of the world?

It's his humility. According to people close to him, especially his coach Freddy Roach, Mr. Pacquiao treats his opponents with respect and not once did he ever put anyone of them down. Mr. Pacquiao acknowledged Oscar de la Hoya as his idol and loved to tell stories that he tucked a poster of him near his bed when he was still a struggling fighter.

In his hometown, General Santos in southern Philippines, Mr. Pacquiao is the storied boy who rose from abject poverty, the poor boy who slept on cardboard and sold cigarettes on the streets just to be able to eat. He continues to be identified with the poor and speaks their language.

Today, aside from his boxing ring earnings, Mr. Pacquiao gets income from purses and share of pay-per-view fights. He gets more from TV rights, ads, product endorsements and paid-personal appearances.

When Ring Magazine's pound-for-pound best fighter goes up into the ring to face British Rick "The Hitman" Hatton in May, the whole country will be saying a prayer for Mr. Pacquiao, including the three TV stations that boxed their way in just to broadcast the match live to millions of Filipino homes.

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