Inspiration from a seasoned politician

Published January 26, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Rikki Mathay



Being a candidate for councilor in Quezon City’s 6th district, and combing through the barangays made me see why the city has been dubbed the “City of the Stars” as I have been campaigning with celebrities from all industries vying for a coveted position in city hall.

Yes, I admit that I was first reluctant to run for office despite my political background as I have been used to being a “silent” public servant through the NGOs which I have been serving over half my life. But one of the people who inspired me to take a leap of faith in this different realm of public service is the aspiring congressman in my district, the legendary Bingbong Crisologo.

Not only has Rep. Bingbong made a mark as the QC congressman with the most number of years in office (having served for 12 years as representative of District 1 after serving two terms as city councilor), but he is one of the few political icons whose life inspired a blockbuster movie. With actor Rudy Fernandez playing the main role in 1991, “Bingbong: The Vincent Crisologo Story” gave the public a glimpse of the private side of this once controversial Ilocano politician.

What was personally inspiring for me was not even his impressive list of achievements in the House of Representatives, but the story of the young man who made a name in the “City of the Stars” — roughly 300 kilometers from his birthplace in Ilocos.

Born as Vincent Crisologo on May 31, 1947 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Floro Crisologo , Ilocos Sur’s congressman, and Carmen Pichay, later elected as the region’s governor, it seemed a natural order of succession for Bingbong to pursue his own political career in the north. But shortly after a lone gunman shot his father during Sunday mass, Bingbong’s life began taking an unexpected turn.

To make his early life more controversial, Bingbong was convicted of arson in 1970 and was sentenced with a penalty of double life imprisonment.

“At that point, I felt hopeless. I thought my life was over. I was just married to the love of my life, Rita, and she visited me every single day in prison and with that at least, I knew back then that I was still blessed. In prison, I rediscovered the Lord and as dire as my situation was, I eventually found my faith just growing stronger by the day.”

This renewed faith led Bingbong to become a preacher in the New Bilibid Prison where he spent eight years, mostly spreading the Word of God and with it, hope and repentance among prisoners who attended his bible studies.

“On the eve of a New Year, I prayed and I asked the Lord for a sign. If I was pardoned before the stroke of midnight, it meant I was destined to serve Him outside the prison walls,” he said.

I had goosebumps when I learned Bingbong was released — against all odds — at 11:55 p.m. of Dec. 31, 1980.

After his release, he founded Loved Flock Catholic-Charismatic Community, where he was more popularly known as Brother Bingbong. After years of spearheading the Loved Flock, where he extended assistance to members with various needs, from financial to run-of-the mill requests, another calling came knocking.

“I realized that with everyone I had been helping through my mere personal connections, if I had a position in government, then I can have the capability to help more,” Bingbong said.

After making District 1 into one of the most progressive districts in QC, with Bingbong initiating free funeral services, scholarship grants including transportation and cash allowances, and devoting his budget to the allocation of free medical services for his constituents, to name a few, he is now up for yet another battle, as congressman in District 6 where he had moved residence.

“When I ran for mayor last 2019, I saw how District 6 is the least developed area in QC, and our city happens to be one of the richest cities in the Philippines with a P30 billion annual budget. Can you imagine that there are still small creeks that we cross and nearly impassable roads that are not even cemented? My dream is to replicate what I have done in District 1 here at District 6.

“I also want to create congressional district offices in every barangay to bring our public service straight to the people without them having to worry about fares going to Batasan. I really feel like I am not yet done with my mission as my personal vow to the Lord when He gave me a new lease on life,” he said.

As I said in my previous article, I know that politics nowadays has turned into a warzone. But meeting a seasoned general like Bingbong, who went to several “battles” which would have left most people feel downtrodden, and with nothing left to prove as a politician, and yet at the age of 74, he still wants to work for a greater purpose, is an inspirational story of faith and purpose the younger generation of public servants can draw strength from.