LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By: Jun Ledesma
The Bong Go fever
He was and still is dubbed as the (supreme) photo-bomber. But in the life of President Rodrigo Duterte he is more than what anybody could imagine he is. Heads of states as well as the ordinary hoi polloi who want to to talk to or seek the former mayor of Davao City and now President of the Philippines has to first talk to Christopher T. Go before getting to his boss.
Short wonder why he gets the enviable privilege to have selfies with heads of states. In first encounters they would always recall the name of Bong Go, the President’s all around man… private secretary, runner, sub-memory data bank, the gate keeper and everything.
Bong, as we all call him, fits his job to the T. The most intimate person to the President but nary a hint would one hear him take pride of that enviable post. His lips are almost perpetually zipped when it comes to matters involving the President, politics and his own role as Presidential Assistant (with a rank of secretary) and head of the Presidential Management Staff. The only time he bares himself is when he dons his basketball uniform. Bong is a mean basketball player.
But don’t mistake Bong’s extremely reserve mien for anything less than what he is. He is a graduate of Business Management from La Salle University. That should explain why he systematically imbibes and manages the voluminous data which he could dish out on the spot when Duterte asks one.
How he handles calls and SMS from more than 6,000 daily callers and texters is a wondrous mystery.
In less than two years on his present job he has travelled to all nooks and crannies of the country than any of the incumbent senators. And like his boss he has been in places where most of the senators fear to trek. He learned his lessons in politics the hard way and yes you can bet … he learned this hands on.
He is neither a movie star nor a son of a famous name. But his name Bong Go resonates with Digong Duterte. Maybe just the only thing he hasn’t learned is the litany of expletives that his boss is quite famous with.
But I have known Bong up close. Simple, extremely polite and, like his boss, he is a very compassionate man.
I have gone this length writing about Bong’s persona. I have to admit I was beaten into it by the rabid opposition and Rappler’s Pia Ranada who thought that placing the most intimate man to the President in the senate grand inquisition to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the frigate deal would earn them a slam dunk. Bong only spoke of the truth and he was unflinching. He became extra famous. From then on Bong became his own man. His boss, the President, is really proud of him and so are we.