Baguio City Representative Mark Go dreams of an entrepreneurial and digitally savvy nation.
BY GAY ACE DOMINGO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY IVAN LLANETA
After years and years of building one’s career, most people would choose to ride into the sunset of
their life’s work, opting to retire or at least slow down their activities as they pass on their time-earned
wisdom and knowledge to the younger generation. This was not the case for Marquez “Mark” Go, the representative of the lone district of Baguio City.
Congressman Go was enjoying the fruits of his hard work, stemming from his fruitful professional career as a human resource practitioner and a businessman when he chose the road less taken—to leave his comfort zone in the private sector, where he had earned much of his own success, and enter the realm of public service. It is a decision that would cause many to raise their eyebrows. After all, why leave the
confines of the corporate world to enter the unfamiliar and complex territory of public service when he could easily be resting on his own laurels?
Yet the love for home and community beckoned and prevailed. Armed with only the will to serve and the commitment to make a difference in his beloved Baguio, Go left behind decades of accomplishment in the corporate world and business in order to wade into previously uncharted territory as a public servant.
Today, he serves his second term as the Congressional representative of the famed “City of Pines.”
Whereas he would once hop from one enterprise to another as he supervised his business affairs, Go
now follows a different schedule. The representative shuttles regularly from Baguio where he
meets his constituents, to Batasan, Quezon City, home of the House of Representatives as he attends to the several Congressional committees that he serves. He sits as the Chairperson of the Committee on
Higher and Technical Education and Vice Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment, while
he regularly participates as member of the following committees: Basic Education; Tourism; Trade and
Industry; Ways and Means; Public Works and Highways; North Luzon Growth Quadrangle; Government
Reorganization; Indigenous Cultural Communities, and Bases Conversion.
Given his impressive track record within the short time he has been a member of Congress, one would be surprised to learn that the representative is a political neophyte. Although a latecomer to the game, Congressman Go’s age and background, coupled with his relative political inexperience, have become his advantage. He embodies both the wisdom gained from teaching at the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio, working at Texas Instruments, and being an entrepreneur, and the fervor of an idealistic fellow desiring to make a change.
LOVE FOR BAGUIO
Congressman Go would only call Baguio his home shortly after his university graduation in 1975, after
a life-changing encounter with the city during his days as a student from UP Manila in the 1970s. “I
was not born in Baguio,” he says. “I cross-enrolled in UP Baguio one summer.”
The beauty of the place had an impact on the young Go. “When you come up to Baguio at that time, you
can already smell the pine scent of the city from Kennon Road. When you go to City Hall, you can see the
fog going down Abanao Street. That attracted me much… I fell in love with the place. I said ‘I am coming
back.’ That’s exactly what I did in 1975. And the rest is history. For 44 years now, I’ve made Baguio my
Baguio’s pristine sights and environment convinced Go to relocate to the northern city. However, Go has witnessed the city shift through the years from an urban dweller’s paradise to a crowded, overdeveloped metropolis. “We have issues in the city. We have problems on garbage, traffic, and other related matters,” Go observes. “So many occupied places that should not be. Having witnessed all these changes, I feel that I have an obligation to our city.”
This obligation entails efforts to restore Baguio City to its once famed pristine glory. Going beyond
mere cleanup drives that only scratch the surface and provide band-aid solutions, the hardworking
congressman has authored bills such as House Bill 1341 declaring Burnham Park as a National Heritage Park, and House Bill 1342 regarding the full rehabilitation and maintenance of Kennon Road. These are alongside his ten-point agenda that focuses on key areas that include scholarships, reducing unemployment, environmental protection, compensation for barangay officials, restoration of heritage parks, and road improvement.
HARD AT WORK
Since his first term as congressman, Go has authored and co-authored 160 bills, landing important pieces
of legislation that benefit both his constituents in Baguio City, as well as citizens in the Cordillera
Administrative Region (CAR) and the rest of the country.
As Baguio City representative, Go seeks to address the concerns of the city. For instance, the growing
population and urbanization in Baguio has led to challenges in providing adequate health care.
To meet the demand, Go proposed House Bill 6619 providing for the expansion and improvement
of Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC). He is proud to report that the said bill, and its
counterpart Senate Bill 1736 authored by Senator JV Ejercito, was signed into law by President Duterte on October 3, 2018. Republic Act 11084 provides for the increase of BGHMC’s bed capacity from
500 to 800.
It was also Congressman Go who spearheaded the 2017 inquiry on and eventual rollback of overinflated fuel prices in Baguio City through House Resolution 853. In spite of the small victory, the representative advocated for reasonable and transparent fuel prices through House Bill 5172, which seeks to amend the Oil Deregulation Act (RA 8479) by granting more powers to the Department of Energy (DOE) to monitor the fuel pump prices and to set a price ceiling and maximum rate of increase in petroleum product prices.
His legislative pieces were not confined to the betterment of Baguio City alone. Go was also a proponent of the pension increase for senior citizen Social Security System (SSS) members, filing House Bill 1853, which was later substituted with House Joint Resolution 10 that saw the approval of the Php2000-peso increase in the monthly pension of some 2.2 million SSS retirees.
Staying true to his advocacy of making higher education accessible to all, Congressman Go has also authored and co-authored landmark legislative acts such as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or Republic Act 10931, which grants free tuition to students in state universities and colleges, as well as technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) around the country. Go also authored Republic Act 11192 establishing the Cordillera State Institute of Technical Education (CSITE), integrating the
Cordillera Region’s TESDA training centers and supervised TVIs to train the region’s youths to become globally competitive.
One of the bills that he is known for is the Compressed Work Week Bill that offers a four-day workweek with longer hours per day, to allow employees lesser days at the office, less time traveling to and from work, and more rest days. “What I would like to address here is the work-life balance of employees in the whole country,” Go explains. “Employees work six days a week. In most cases, they don’t have time for their loved ones. The bill will give them more time for their families and other things they would also like to do. After all, we work for our families.”
Go’s bill and its counterpart Senate bill were approved by the respective chambers, but their conflicting provisions were not ironed out. “We didn’t agree at the pre-bicameral,” Go says. “So I will re-file it and hope that it will be approved this 18th Congress.”
Another bill that Go is committed to seeing enacted into law covers the establishment of the Philippine
Entrepreneurs Academy, a school that will focus exclusively on the formation of entrepreneurs who will
create new products and services and set up their own companies. The plan seeks to answer the problem of unemployment while teaching people to be more inventive.
What Go would like is to start an “entrepreneurial revolution” wherein people would prefer to be self-employed. He elaborates, “Right now, if you ask a Filipino student, ‘Why are you going to school?’ Most likely he will answer, ‘Because I want to finish my studies and get a good job.’ But employment is not the only option.
“There are some people who have the potential to be entrepreneurs but they are not able to develop these potentials due to lack of opportunities. So if we create this academy that will develop entrepreneurial skills and competencies, these people will have a chance. The Philippine Entrepreneurs Academy will teach people to be creative and innovative, train them to be employers rather than employees. Entrepreneurship is what developed Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.”
Go envisions the Philippine Entrepreneurs Academy not only as a testing center for retail items like food or consumer goods, but also as a lab for the creation of technology-based products like mobile phone apps.
Transactions that were considered complex years ago could now be done on a palm-sized gadget or through a few clicks on the cellphone. Go says, “When I was working for Texas Instruments in Baguio in the 1980s, our computer room was twice the size of my office here. At that time, we were using IBM 370. Now,
everything is here, on an S9, S8 cellphone. This is what we want to develop.”
MR. 100 PERCENT
Whether it’s a will to serve, legislation for the people, or technology for a better life, there is no stopping Congressman Mark Go from pursuing his dreams for the people of Baguio and the rest of the Philippines.
The people who have voted for him can rest assured that Go strives to be conscientious with his work.
He says, “If you will look at my first term, you will see that I did not miss any session in Congress. I had
one hundred percent attendance.”
This is the kind of diligence that he wishes to maintain throughout his political career and beyond. With Congressman Mark Go, what you see—his professional record, public demeanor, legislative career—is what you get.
Asked what his guiding principle is, Go sums it up with the word “integrity.” He declares, “I will never compromise my integrity for anything else. Your public life should reflect who you are as a person. You need to be honest. Make sure you don’t engage in corruption. You don’t take advantage of people. Who you are as a person is expressed through your public life.”