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The Heart of a Commander

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Whether as PNP general or local chief of the summer capital, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin “Benjie” Magalong leads with integrity and calm command, helping the city navigate through the challenges of the pandemic and life in the ‘new normal.’

BY ANGELICA MONTORO

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PHIOTOGRAPHY BY RENJIE TOLENTINO

Baguio—the highland city and the country’s summer capital—welcomes you with the scent of pine and a trailing cold breeze, which follows you as you make your way through the winding roads that lead you past the iconic Lion Head along Kennon Road. A key tourist attraction, the monument signifies strength, integrity, courage, and fidelity—the very same values that the people of Baguio wish to see embodied in their leaders. And fortunately, for their local chief and leader, they have retired Philppine National Police (PNP) general, Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

“AS A LEADER, YOU HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF UNPOPULAR DECISIONS. AND MOST OF THE TIME, UNPOPULAR DECISIONS ARE THE RIGHT DECISIONS. KUNG LAGI MO NALANG INIISIP ‘YUNG POLITICAL CAREER OR YOUR AMBITION, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.”

DESTINED FOR LEADERSHIP Mayor Magalong is a well-respected military officer with a sterling track record, who is well loved by his people for his strong principles. Though he has met many controversies in the past, he has never shied away from the media when asked to share his side of the truth. “Unchartered waters” is what this military man calls politics. And it was, indeed, unfamiliar territory in the beginning. While his military career was dedicated to protecting the republic, serving on the other side as a politician in local governance was new and it had never crossed Magalong’s mind until a group of townspeople urged him to run for office. Senator Ping Lacson and Rep. Ronnie Acob also had a hand in convincing him to pursue a position in his locality.

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