QUEZON CITY – On Friday afternoon, former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go returned to spread holiday cheer with the young cancer patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Diliman, Quezon City.
Go was warmly received in the hospital by PCMC officials including Executive Director Julius A. Lecciones, Deputy Executive Director for Professional Services Vicente Patricio R. Gomez, Deputy Executive Director for Nursing Services Amelinda S. Magno, as well as other hospital personnel and patients.
In an interview, Go recalled that he visited PCMC on his birthday last June 14, 2018. The basketball team he played for, “Team Malacañang Kamao” that finished as first runner-up at the 2018 UNTV CUP Government Basketball Tournament, chose PCMC as the beneficiary to receive their prize. The donation was turned over to PCMC during that visit.
“Una akong pumunta dito noong nakaraang birthday ko po. Nanalo po kami sa isang basketball tournament at ‘yung premyo po ay pipili kami ng beneficiary at ang napili namin, Philippine Children’s Medical Center. Nakita ko po dito, marami po ang nangangailangan ng tulong. Naglagay rin po ng pondo si Pangulong Duterte dito para sa mga nephro at cancer patients,” Go said to interviewers.
According to Go, he visited the hospital for the second time this year because spending time with the young cancer patients and survivors eventually became an activity that is very near and dear to his heart.
Similar to President Rodrigo Duterte’s regular visits to House of Hope in Davao City where he takes time to bond with kids suffering from various illnesses, Bong Go has made it a point to find time for the kids he met in PCMC.
“Napalapit na sa akin ang mga batang ito. Paminsan niyayaya ko manood ng basketball. Kapag may kailangan sila, in-assure ko naman sila na pwede nila ako kapitan,” he added.
He said he wants to encourage the young patients to have faith, be brave, and stay happy. Go believes there is a good chance the young patients could survive and recover from their illnesses, even those suffering from dreaded diseases like cancer.
“Ngayon, nandito po ako para bumati sa kanila ng merry Christmas, mapasaya man lang sila kahit sandali,” Go said.
He took the opportunity to see John Paul Culiao, the young cancer patient he spent a lot of time with during his previous visit. Go said he made it a point to see John Paul whenever he can, saying “Parang anak o kapatid na ang turing ko kay John Paul.”
In his visit to PCMC the second time around, Go said a lot of the children asked him for gifts and toys, which he provided.
“Marami po ang humiling na bata dahil gusto nila magkaroon ng cellphone at mga laruan. ‘Yan naman po ay sa makakaya naming gawin na pagtulong sa kanila. Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga supporters at kaibigan na nagdonate para dito,” Go stated and stressed that this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of friends and supporters who share the same advocacy.
“Marami pong gusto magbigay tulong at magpasaya ng kapwa. Paminsan hindi lang nila alam kung paano. Para doon sa sumasama sa mga adbokasiya ko tulad ng pagtulong sa nasunugan o pagbigay saya sa mga batang may sakit, maraming salamat po,” he added.
In the spirit of Christmas, he encouraged other citizens to also choose an advocacy they plan to fight for and support. “Maraming paraan para tumulong. Tulad ni Pangulong Duterte, wala kaming ibang hangarin kundi tumulong sa kapwa.”
Meanwhile, Go announced that he will relay to government officials the request of some families of young cancer patients to confer with PCMC officials to inquire about their concerns and see how these can be addressed.
“Iba’t iba ang concerns ng ospital at ng mga pasyente. Maganda na makapag-usap ang pamunuan ng hospital kung paano pa makakatulong ang gobyerno sa mga mahihirap na may sakit,” Go said.
He added that he will also consult his former colleagues in government if it is possible to add more funding for the children’s hospital, particularly for the cancer ward he visited.
“Importante na mapadali ang pag-access sa tulong pinansyal at medikal mula sa gobyerno. Hindi na dapat pahirapan ang mga pasyente at pamilya nila. Ito ang palagi kong ipaglalaban,” he said.
Go, who is running for a Senate seat in the 2019 elections, chose as the top priority in his legislative agenda programs to improve the delivery of health services, including the establishment of Malasakit Centers in all provinces and urban centers of the country.
A Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop housing together all concerned government agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PAGCOR, PSCO, and Philhealth to make it easier and faster for indigent and disadvantaged patients to avail themselves of medical and financial assistance from the government.
After going around and spending time with the children confined in the hospital, Bong Go ended his visit to PCMC with his Christmas wish: “Sa mga bata, ipinagdarasal ko na gumaling kayo. ‘Yun lamang po ang hinihiling ko sa Panginoon.”