How the ‘mysterious’ Bob Ong got his penname

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – As you must have noticed, no picture of Bob Ong accompanies the following Q&A. BO is popular online among those who ardently read his stories but they don’t have an idea what his real name is and how he looks like. That’s how BO wants things to be, period.

Why do you prefer to be “mysterious?” Why Bob Ong as penname?

“There was never an intention to be ‘mysterious.’ It was probably just the concept of not embracing celebrity which is foreign to most people, given the chance, and that makes me a little unusual. A follower of my satire website from the ’90s called ‘Bobong Pinoy’ mistook me for a certain ‘BobOng.’ Bob Ong. BobOng Pinoy. It was uncanny.”

Without revealing much of yourself, describe yourself for the benefit of your thousands of followers whom you have been keeping “in the dark.”

“I am no more ordinary than the next Juan. I probably just give more damn.”

In this age of social media, how do you manage to “hide?” Any reason why you’re “hiding?”

“I wouldn’t have online presence if I were seriously in the business of ‘hiding.’ I started out anonymous for reasons that are all outdated now, but I’m staying as is because I am territorial with my time and space and have always sought the virtues of a private life.”

In what medium are you more effective, social media or print?

“I started online, but print is my battleground. Print requires discipline, dedication and deep convictions. We all tend to just be reactive and whiny online.”

How and when did you start writing?

“I decided that I would become a writer when I quit my bachelor’s degree and asked my father to risk a substantial amount of tuition money so I could enroll in a comprehensive writing course. I started writing for local publications after.”

Where and how do you get your story ideas, from your own experiences or those of people that you know?

“Both, as with any other writer.”

Tell us the background of Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin.

“The book is basically all about the ills of mass media that you wish would change. It’s mainly about, but not limited to, Pinoy movies. It’s the insanity and absurdity of our lives, our concept of entertainment, misplaced values, commercialism, and thoughtless existence as reflected through our abuse of art. It is laughable, but more deplorable.”

Do you have a hand in the casting of this movie and that of ABNKKBSNPLAKo?

“Save for a few consultations, I gave the production team full creative control.”

What other stories do you have coming soon?

“I’m going full circle with 56, my return to non-fiction after a decade.”

When will you finally reveal yourself?

“My real name and my looks don’t have anything to do with my books. Vulnerably exposed in all my books is myself.”












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