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The People’s Choice |


The People’s Choice

THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez - The Philippine Star
The Peopleâs Choice
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
Mau Aguasin courtesy of PEOPLEASIA magazine

I first met Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso when he served as vice mayor of Manila during the first term of Joseph Estrada as mayor. Even then, I was already fascinated by the story of this young man, whose rise to success as a politician would be good material for a movie.

Isko grew up at the infamous garbage dump in Tondo known as Smokey Mountain, working as a basurero (garbage boy) and taking on all sorts of menial jobs to help his parents put food on the table. His good looks opened the door of show business, but the pull of public service proved to be stronger, with the young man knowing he could do a lot to help the people of Manila.

Starting as councilor then vice mayor, Isko is now the “father” of his beloved city, having won by a landslide in the mayoralty race during the May 2019 elections.

Having grown up in Singalong, I knew what Manila was like when it stood proud as a premier city that was also dubbed “Pearl of the Orient.” My paternal grandparents lived in Pandacan, and we would often go to their house located near Pandacan Church for family reunions.

Isko Moreno

Unfortunately, Manila has become almost synonymous with chaos, congestion and squalor which is why many are counting on the young politician to bring the city back to its former glory. He had to hit the ground running, conducting cleanup operations in Divisoria, Carriedo and other places whose crowded streets were occupied by vendors and littered with trash. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Isko serves as a bright spark in our nation’s politics, having inspired not only Manileños but other Filipinos including those living abroad into believing that much can be done to stamp out corruption and make lives better if one exercises political will to do what is right for the majority of the people. Even US Ambassador Sung Kim was impressed, describing the young mayor as a “total rock star.”

Filipino-Americans are also impressed by the work that Isko Moreno is doing and want to hear from him. I invited him to visit Washington to meet the Filipino community and he said he already put it in his schedule sometime in the middle of this year.

No doubt, the task ahead will not be easy, but he is determined and people, including businessmen, are offering to help him in giving Manila a makeover and making life better for his constituents. This early, there is already talk about him seeking higher office, but he laughs it off, saying there is still so much work to be done.

No doubt, the kind of leadership Mayor Isko is showing has inspired people, giving many of us so much hope for the future of this country. His story has certainly resonated, which is why he is PeopleAsia magazine’s “People’s Choice” awardee, who will be joining the ranks of other extraordinary individuals who will be honored during the People of the Year awards night this February.

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