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Bong Lao: A veteran public servant

Years of government service can really season an elected or appointed public official especially if he or she had a proven track record to serving the public.

Councilor Bong Lao is one such example, starting as a barangay kagawad in Lapasan in 1982 and ending his tenure in the area in 1994. 

At the time there was no Facebook or social media sites where people can rant to their hearts' content. Lao had to go around Barangay Lapasan, a huge area to consult with his constituents. 

He eventually became a barangay captain for three terms until 2007. Lao is in the same mold as Rep. Rolando "Klarex" Uy of Cagayan de Oro City's 1st district and Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Alam Lim, who's running for the city's second district under the Team OKKA of Mayor Oscar Moreno.

From what I've known about him, Lao is an independent thinker who will not hesitate to speak out against anything he deems wrong with a program or policy even if it's a party position.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said as much during last week's press conference when he launched Team OKKA after filing their certificates of candidacy.

“Magkalahi amo idea sa usa ka (We have a different idea in one) project or program and that’s what I like on Bong. He believes in what he said and he would stand by it," Moreno said. 

Right now Lao chairs the City Council committee on public utilities and energy. Previously he authored an ordinance against illegal gambling and the illegal sale of petroleum products in all stores in the city. 

Another achievement is being a co-author of the ordinance creating the Barangay Tanod Development Council. This gives flesh to the Local Government Code by mandating tanods as active partners in maintaining peace and order in the community. 

Under this ordinance, tanods can also act as traffic enforcers when deputized.

In our conversation Bong admitted the problem in his district is infomal settlers and findings means to solve and his solutions most probably end up in other committees meaning he asked helped from other councilors to help.

Lao is a descendant of Iyo Teting Vicente Lao of Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental, my home town. Iyo Teting is a towering figure with chinito eyes and white hair.

Based on my own recollection, Iyo Teting worked every morning on his garden outside their house as I headed to Tagoloan Central Pilot School in my youth.

Bong must be like his grandfather as he is always working. Iyo Teting is also strict as no one can pick up a mango or fruit in his garden without permission. 

Lao's father is a military man named Nong Nesting, Iyo Teting's oldest son. I could not remember much of him but if I buy ginamos (pickled fish) at their store, I can take a look at the very good looking man in uniform. 

I am not here to sell Bong Lao because his name speaks volumes in terms of accomplishments both in the halls of the Cagayan de Oro City Council and in Barangay Lapasan .

And he still has a lot more things to do if and when he is reelected to the City Council.

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