FORMER Special Assistant to the President, Sec. Bong Go, may not be aware that his official and now private outreach initiatives to nameless people have significant impact not only in terms of numbers of individuals and communities he helped but also in the deep sense of gratefulness that he might not have even heard at all.
Take it from UP Prof. Clarita Carlos. I am a great fan of this intellectual giant as her postings on Facebook are real gems that one can get gratis et amore. Sometimes last month, however, she went ballistic when her driver had a stroke and have to be rushed to the Veterans Hospital since he was a soldier retiree. Professor Claire was desperate and furious as the hospital, it turned out, seemingly lacks the necessary facilities needed by the patient. About three days after her last post, the professor appeared to have sobered down and in no time was back to her FB exchanges with her research team with her usual sagacity in varied subjects.
Meantime from my own little nook in Davao, I would post stories about SAP Bong Go’s engagements as a one-man delivery service of his intimate friends to bring assistance to victims of fire, floods and other calamities. I personally know Bong as a very reserve person who is always by the side of the Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and up to the time he became President. He is indispensable to the President before, during and even after his stint as SAP. Bong is his data bank, his answering service, his appointment secretary, etcetera, etcetera. His body clock adapts with that of the President and wherever he goes Bong will be there too.
It used to be that President Duterte would personally attend to the needs of victims of calamities, armed conflicts and those who need medical assistance. The enormity of the task of the President, however, had diminished his presence. Thus, the poor SAP Bong Go has become his chief implementer of what I’d describe as the President’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.
Unknown to many, Bong Go is no stranger to what the tasks of CSR demands. In Davao City, then Mayor Duterte set up the “Lingap” project. The intention of the project is to help needy patients avail of the necessary medical attention in government or even private hospitals. Duterte also put up a special clinic for children who are afflicted by cancer. It was the office of Bong Go that was task to assist the beneficiary-patients.
When “Lingap” first started, it was meant only for Davao City residents but not a few patients from other provinces who were brought to Davao hospitals and had ran out of funds were extended the necessary assistance. The cancer clinic, by the way, has become a fully equipped hospital. This now has patients from all over Mindanao and Visayas. Not only the child-patients are given accommodations, their parents are provided their own living quarters as well.
Flash floods had occurred in unusual times in Davao City and the devastation rendered one subdivision practically underwater when rampaging waters breached the Davao river bank. It was midnight. Bong Go, who is an ace water ski rider, rushed to the scene and singlehandedly saved those who were hopelessly and helplessly perched on the rooftops of houses.
I am not therefore surprised if the ex-SAP really worked hard for the establishment of many Malasakit Centers all over the country shortly before he quit to run for senator. While he is now a private citizen, he still has the President’s ear, so do not be astonished why Malasakit Centers keep cropping up in many nooks and corners of the country.
Bong Go still instinctively rush to scenes of calamities and handing over relief goods and other form of assistance his friends and supporters would gather for him, to dispense for victims and the needy.
But like his rank in the surveys of ‘senatoriables’, he has leveled up from 23, when he was perceived to be not in the running, to No. 8 in the recent survey conducted by DZRH. Moreover, he too has outdone his boss in speaking engagements. And the crowd loves him despite the absence of expletives. This time he is not the photo-bomber he used to be described by media. Bong is now the central figure.
Why? Let me quote, verbatim, Prof. Clarita Carlos in her FB post: “Wow! What a generous soul! I know…because he had also extended help to my driver who had a stroke last month…hope his tribe increases! Thank you, Bong Go!”