It was a typical day at the fairway on May 21, 1996. The golfing buddies were about to part ways when Pastor Apollo Quiboloy reluctantly whispered to his friend, “Mayor, unsa man ‘tong akong damgo gabii? Gipasundo man daw ko nimo sa Davao unya didto daw ko nitugpa sa Malacañang grounds. Magdula daw ‘ta og golf. Unya naa’y high-ranking military officials nagsalute ka nimo tungod kay ikaw na man diay ang Presidente sa Pilipinas.”
“Damgo ra na nimo Pastor,” Mayor Duterte replied in jest. “Kutob lang dyud ta diri sa Davao. Probinsyano ra man ‘tawon ko.”
This day and memory passed and remained forgotten for almost two decades until 2014 when the clamor for Mayor Duterte to run for president became stronger. In the same year, Pastor Apollo shared his dream to the media who were present in his 64th birthday celebration.
This was followed by a one-on-one discussion on Give Us This Day between the two friends where our Beloved Pastor reminded Mayor Rody, “Para sa akoa, ang nagabuot sa tanan butang sa kalibutan, ang Diyos. Kung pagbu-ot niya si Mayor Duterte mao’y sunod nga mahimong presidente sa Pilipinas, ang Diyos ang maghimo ana. Let us leave that fate in the hands of God.”
Mayor Rody however begged his friend to not pray for him to become president. He expressed that he cannot handle the number of responsibilities and duties that come with it. “Kaila man ka nako Pastor, dili man nako na kaya,” Mayor Rody would tell his friend.
Five years forward and we see the man in Malacañan Palace.
In the eyes of men, it might seem unbelievable and beyond reason how God would choose such a man with irreverent ways and a colorful character as Rodrigo Duterte to lead this nation. But the ways of God are different from man (Isa. 55:8).
So is His divine orchestration that President Duterte and Pastor Apollo would cross paths at the back of the Y-Gym in Agdao back in the early ‘80s when the former was still a fiscal and the latter a young evangelist shepherding to less than 20 souls.
But everything that happens in the life of His Appointed Son is according to the Almighty Father’s will. For “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Ps. 37:23).
He has willed it that along the way, our Beloved Pastor would meet Mayor Rody for a greater plan and purpose that would be realized in the future.
The tough talking President Duterte protects the helpless, law abiding innocent people. His heart is sincere in serving his suffering people that he asked the Filipinos in the penultimate showdown in Luneta before the historical May 2016 elections, “Look beyond my epithets, you will see a Filipino hungry and sad.”
Rody Duterte and Pastor Apollo remained friends through the years for despite their differing values, faith and principles, they have the same love for children and the poor and both have dedicated their entire lives in serving others – PRRD being a public servant through and through and Pastor Apollo being a Man of God looking after the souls of men.
Years ago, when our Beloved Pastor was about to fly out for a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, Mayor Rody bade him goodbye and told him, “Pastor ingat ka ha. Mao baya na sila’y nagpatay sa Ginoo. Ikaw ang bahalang magwali, ako na’y bahala sa mga yawa diri.”
This speaks volumes of the one-of-a-kind friendship that they have. It is borne not out of superficiality, hypocrisy, or publicity. It is a brotherly bond forged between likeminded souls who are destined for greatness in two different arenas – one is political, and the other spiritual. Their common ground: humility and servitude.
“Mayor Duterte is a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” Pastor Apollo would say. He may seem tough on the outside, but deep inside is a man who is willing to lay down his life for other people.
Along the way, the Almighty Father must have seen the heart of this man. Despite his flaws and foibles, President Duterte is your kind of hero who would stand in the middle of the crossfire in order to save innocent lives.
He is “not a terror to good works but to the evil.” Our Beloved Pastor would always mention the following Bible verses in looking at the life or our Beloved City Mayor who has been catapulted to power in unexpected circumstances.
Romans 13:1-6 King James Version (KJV)
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
“Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.”
You may look at the President as an imperfect human being. But being a public servant, he is true to his calling and commitment. We are all witnesses as to how he has toppled down the centuries-long reign of the oligarchs. He has crushed corruption to the ground. Above all, we have seen a safer Philippines for the past three years that he is in office.
When you look beyond the unconventional president that we have, what you will see is a man whose life has been spent in protecting the law-abiding citizens of this country.
This is what our Beloved Pastor has seen in the man he would share his last piece of chewing gum with. This is the gem that he saw in a brother and friend who once taught him the basics of golf, and has kept a long and lasting friendship with him that withstood the test of time.