MANILA, Philippines?Two days before joining Filipino athletes as their flag bearer in the Olympic parade in Beijing, boxing icon Manny Pacquiao Wednesday reaped yet another award, this time from the House of Representatives.
The 240-member chamber has recognized the four-division titleholder as a ?people?s champ? in a resolution sponsored by no less than South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who defeated him in the 2007 election.
Pacquiao, 29, was recognized for his ?achievements and in appreciation of the honor and inspiration he has been bringing ... to the Filipino people,? the resolution said.
Pacquiao?s arrival at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, where the House is located, halted plenary proceedings, drawing employees and media people to an otherwise empty session hall.
They erupted in cheers when Pacquiao and Custodio, prodded by another lawmaker on the floor, embraced each other at the rostrum shortly before the boxer received a plaque from Speaker Prospero Nograles.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last month designated Pacquiao as her special envoy to the Beijing Games and as the country?s flag bearer, even though the pro-boxer is not on the Philippine Olympic team.
Last year, Pacquiao challenged Custodio for the congressional seat in his province, a move both fans and boxing aficionados feared would only distract a prizefighter at the peak of his career.
Custodio eventually defeated Pacquiao by a landslide, but the boxer went on to win three more bouts, a streak highlighted by his knockout of Chicago?s David Diaz for the World Boxing Council lightweight belt in June.
Pacquiao is now widely recognized as the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound. Christian V. Esguerra