Mayor invites US envoy for golf in g-strings

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


FOUR photographs hanging on the wall of the City Mayor’s Office have become conversation pieces, an ice-breaker when the city’s chief executive receives dignitaries, among them newly installed US Ambassador Philip Goldberg who called on him at City Hall Monday morning.

One photo has Mayor Mauricio Domogan swinging his wooden club at the tee off area of Camp John Hay. Another has him standing erect with his driver propping him up, like as would a spear. In both, he’s barefooted and in his native G-string. Two other photos show the mayor also in G-string, in the company of tribal elders and alone in his office.

Domogan swore to Goldberg he had offered his immediate predecessor, Ambassador Harry Thomas, a handicap at the Camp John Hay fairways provided the dignitary would play in the same outfit, a set of which the mayor said he would provide as gift.

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During his own courtesy call on July 15, 2010, Thomas studied the pictures and bantered: “When I play golf, I’ll bring my own outfit.”

Taking the drift, the mayor explained he donned his ethnic regalia on the course so “they would see the Cordillera size”. He then offered to gift Thomas with a set so “they can also see the American size”.

“What would Washington say?” Goldberg wondered in amusement when it was his turn to be offered the outfit and with it negotiate the 5,330-yard, par 68 course which, together with the nearby Baguio Country Club, is the coldest in the country.

The mayor explained the two G-string-cum-golf-club photographs were taken when he made the ceremonial tee off in the annual Fil-Am Golf Tournament the former US military officers launched when they were managing the Camp John Hay. Drawing players from all over, it has become the world’s biggest amateur golf competition.

While here, Goldberg stayed at the historic U.S. Ambassador’s Residence inside John Hay where Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, then the commander of the Japanese Imperial Army, formally surrendered on September 3, 1945.

The mayor recalled when he served as the city’s representative to Congress, he filed a bill for the annual observance of the date as Victory Day for the Philippines and the Allied Forces.

“We commemorate the Fall of Bataan on April 9, yet there’s more reason for us to celebrate the end of the Philippine side of the second world war,” he said adding the war also began at Camp John Hay when Japanese planes bombed it morning of December 8, 1941.

Goldberg said he visited other scenic and historical spots of Baguio, among them the Good Shepherd Convent which, he noted was where American Governor-General William Cameron Forbes built Topside, his palatial residence, in 1906.

The ambassador added he learned of Baguio’s strength as an educational center when he visited Texas Instruments and Moog Controls, two of the multi-national companies based at the Export Processing Zone near the Loakan Airport.

In briefings for the ambassador, the managers of the two companies said TI and Moog found Baguio attractive as it provides the skilled human resources they needed.

While here, Goldberg also visited the Philippine Military Academy, the Burnham Park and the BenCab art museum and read a story for young wards of the Child and Family Services Philippines.

The mayor handed to the ambassador a wooden key to the city that the American colonial government built and reiterated his invitation for a round of golf at Camp John Hay, preferably in the suggested outfit the dignitary never donned before.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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