United City FC striker Bienvenido Marañon is taking his first big step toward becoming a Filipino citizen.
This was after the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives unanimously approved yesterday House Bill 7427 that seeks to grant a Filipino citizenship to the Spanish striker, spin.ph reported.
The bill, authored by Manila Rep. Manny Lopez and filed on August 19, is looking to make Marañon a naturalized player to he can suit up for the Philippine Azkals in international competition.
“In his five-year football career in the Philippines, Marañon has shown exceptional skills complemented by commendable work ethic. He is known as one of the most prolific scorers in Southeast Asia,” Lopez said.
“If granted the opportunity to play for the Philippines, Marañon will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to the national football team, the Azkals, and bring pride and honor to our country. This will also be an opportunity on the part of Congress to contribute to the Philippines’ success in the global football arena.”
Marañon, 34, has been a staple for Filipino club Ceres-Negros since he arrived back in 2015, steering the club to great lengths as it reached the ASEAN Zonal Final of the AFC Cup in 2017 and 2018.
He is also the all-time top goal scorer in the AFC Cup with 35 goals to boot.
Marañon’s impact has been undeniable, helping Ceres-Negros claim the Philippines Football League crown from 2017 to 2019, while also continuing to show his prowess for United City FC this past 2020 PFL season, leading it to the championship as well as winning the Golden Boot award.
“I would like to become a Filipino because I love the country and I love the people,” he said in his testimonial. “I feel too much love from them and I would like to give them the love I’ve received. I would love to play for the Azkals national team ‘cause I feel like I’ve been a Filipino since arrived here. I want to help them reach the World Cup, play in the Asia Cup, and win the Suzuki Cup.”
Marañon, who was born in El Puerto, Spain, played for third and fourth-division clubs in his home country before testing the waters abroad. That led him to Ceres-Negros.
“Since I arrived here six years ago, I feel too much love from the people that I want to be a part of them and let my family grow here in the Philippines, build a house, and try to have my kids have a better life and a better future through football here. I want to build an academy for the kids and try to give them a better life,” he said.
With the bill advancing in the committee level, Marañon will now have to wait for the rest of the congressmen to vote on his motion.
Sen. Miguel Zubiri also filed Senate Bill No. 1391 on March 3, but the status remains pending.*