Bam Speaks: Of video games, Transformers, rallies and public service

(Dear loyal readers, I just want to share with you a story I wrote in 2006 about Bam Aquino, Ninoy Aquino’s nephew. This is the closest I got to writing about our hero.)

Bam Aquino

By Anthony O. Alcantara

At a very young age, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, nephew of hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, led a dual life that was quite unusual for children in 1983.

In school, six-year-old Bam took the usual lessons and played with his friends and their Transformers robots. At night, however, he became a justice-craved activist and eloquent orator.

“I was six when he was shot,” related Bam, referring to his famous uncle. “When he died, it really affected our family. Talagang bumaligtad ‘yung mundo namin. So even though I met him only once or twice even when he was in jail, I feel very close to him, ‘coz all throughout my life, he was a very, very big influence.”

He said his family would go to rallies and his uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters of his Tito Ninoy, would speak before the crowds.

Young orator

“’Yung tatay ko kasi, sa mga Aquinos, siya ‘yung shy eh. ‘Yung mga brothers and sisters of Tito Ninoy, all of them are very loud. We would go out, but he wouldn’t speak. So I was the one who gave the speeches. At six years old, meron akong seryosong speech. I would go to school, kain, tulog then ikot na kami, then wake up the next morning, pasok na naman sa school.”

It is not surprising then that Bam grew up with a burning desire for public service. After taking up Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University and graduating with honors in 1999, he went on to work for the ABS CBN Foundation instead of trying to make big bucks in the corporate world.

Joining NYC

He eventually went to law school until EDSA 2 occurred. He stopped when he was asked to join the government through the National Youth Commission (NYC).

Hindi ko kaya pagsabayin, mahirap talaga. Then ABS CBN asked me to become a host (for Breakfast). That was from 2001 to 2006,” he explained.

Bam finished his term at NYC last February. He was commissioner for two years and chairman for three. The NYC became his life for five years but then he had to leave and explore other opportunities.

Aside from an endorsement offer for the ICafé Plus, he’s now editing a book for the ASEAN.

“ASEAN is coming up with its 14th anniversary and they chose me to make a 14th anniversary book on young achievers in Asia, in Southeast Asia. They asked me to edit the book as the former chairman of NYC,” he said.

Becoming an entrepreneur

Being a Management Engineering graduate, Bam is also trying to hone his entrepreneurial skills. He and some of his friends recently put up a business connected to servicing the outsourcing industry. He wouldn’t give the details, saying it’s still premature.

He also revealed that after he left Breakfast, ABS CBN has been cooking up a new show for him. But that would come after his endorsement obligations with ICafé Plus.

“Public service is still the main goal, public service in a very broad sense, whether it’s in TV, in an NGO or in government. ‘Yung mga ginagawa ko naman on TV, it’s not really pure entertainment although some part of it is entertainment.”

Achievements

Bam is particularly proud of his achievements at NYC, where he was able to contribute to policy making for the youth.

“We not only gave the plans for the youth to the concerned agencies. We went to the next step and looked for funding to implement those plans at the local government level,” he said.

Despite his serious side, Bam is a movie buff and a video games addict. Once, while displaying his knowledge of a video game in an Internet café, a young lad expressed his disbelief and surprise that Bam really knows the game.

“’Sir alam nyo pala ‘yun? Sir na ngayon ang tawag sa akin,” Bam chuckled.

“I love playing basketball, too, pero ‘yung mga kaibigan ko tumatanda na rin. When we were young, we joined the Ateneo League. Very active pa rin kami ‘dun. I was a wrestling fan for a while. Inuman with friends, nothing too different. Iba lang siguro ginagawa ko sa work side, pero sa playing side, typical Filipino,” he said.

Hope of the nation

As for his message for the youth today, he echoed Jose Rizal’s message.

“Tayo pa rin ‘yung pag-asa ng bayan. People who are below 40, leaders in the political world, business world, our generation, we have to step up na eh. The next generation has to take over. At the end of the day, we have to know what’s happening kasi if we just leave the country to the dogs, then we’ll just be in a dog pound, we won’t reach the level we want,” he said.

With his illustrious pedigree, leadership skills, passion for public service, and down-to-earth ways, Bam is certainly somebody to watch out for in politics.

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