Monsour takes it to the streets

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Once a fighter, always a fighter.

All throughout his prolific career as an action star during the late ’80s, Monsour del Rosario never failed to dazzle his audiences with his lightning-fast punches and amazing flurries of roundhouse kicks.

It’s with those same lethal limbs with which he garnered even more acclaim when he capped his career as a world-class Olympian by winning the gold in the 14th and 15th Southeast Asian Games in 1987 and 1989, as well as other prestigious international martial arts sorties.

These days, however, the true-blue Bacolodnon has taken his “fights” to the streets.

Except that this time, instead of the lean, mean fighting machine that he used to be, he’s become a relentless crusader for peace who has taken on more formidable adversaries in his desire to champion the rights and welfare of his less-privileged brothers and sisters.

As councilor of Makati’s first district since 2010, the fighter has transformed into a lover, his clenched fists open and ready to share a handshake or a warm embrace, his menacing scowl obliterated by a more engaging smile that never fails to charm the kids, the ordinary folk and the rest of his constituents who still recognize him from his action films of yore that still get heavy rotation in the local cable channels.

“Buhawi Jack! Idol!” they chant, holding up their hands to high-five their hero.

It’s been a radical lifestyle change for Monsour, but every bit as enjoyable and fulfilling.

What’s a typical day for the “kicking crusader”?

“We start of the week with a flag-raising ceremony,” he narrates. “The Mayor, all of us councilors and several department heads have breakfast and discuss the week ahead. Then, I run off to my office where I deal with concerns regarding the committees I chair. I attend to other matters like medical and group solicitations that the residents within my district need.”

Because of his affinity for sports, Monsour finds himself a kindred spirit to his young constituents, always channeling his energies into productive programs by providing the proper infrastructure and support for such activities as basketball, football and of course, taekwondo.

Aside from these, he was also among those who spearheaded the Piso Para sa Makati ordinance, which has been a steady income generator for the city’s affiliated social support groups and organizations.

Asked to cite problem areas that the city needs immediate attention, Monsour says, “I think medical care should be a top priority now. We may have a new Ospital ng Makati with a cancer ward and dialysis center for needy patients, but we need more experienced doctors as well.”

Being the public figure and showbiz celebrity that he is, Monsour feels honored by people who actually seek him out for personal help. He gleefully recalls, “I have become ninong to so many kids already as councilor. For health concerns, I hook them up with the after-care or medical groups. During fiestas or celebrations, I usually give them items they need. I feel it’s my duty to do what I can to help.”

Although Mon is seeking reelection as councilor under the UNA ticket this coming elections, he discounts any plans of running for a higher position in the future. “One thing I know is that I would definitely like to continue to be of service to people,” he asserts.

After a hectic day at work, Mon keeps himself grounded by spending time with his wife Joy and two kids Matti and Isabel. “Matti loves taekwondo and loves Bruce Lee, too,” the proud dad shares. “Bella likes the martial arts, too, but likes singing and dancing as well. Joy has been a great help in the political field and she has her own charity and philanthropic work as well.

While not as active overseeing his Olympians Taekwondo Training Center, Monsour occasionally blows off steam with a friendly sparring match, or hits the greens with his loyal golf buddies.

Does he miss the adrenaline rush in doing action films and all those back-breaking stunts?

“Of course! If my schedule would allow it, I’d love to do maybe one good action film in a year. I miss bonding with the actors and crew who became my ‘family’ during my showbiz years,” he admits.

Still a staunch Bruce Lee fan to this day, Monsour literally lives by one of the immortal martial arts legend’s nuggets of wisdom: “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

It’s a philosophical maxim that has redefined his outlook not just in the fighting arts, but his non-traditional yet pragmatic approach to good governance, parenthood and personal fulfillment as well.

ALTHOUGH MON BACOLODNON BRUCE LEE BUHAWI JACK MAKATI MATTI AND ISABEL MONSOUR OLYMPIANS TAEKWONDO TRAINING CENTER PISO PARA SOUTHEAST ASIAN GAMES
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