MANILA BAY TO PASIG RIVER
By Ligaya Caban
A man of multiple realities. Like born a Domagoso but grew as a Moreno. Dreaming to be on seas but floated on screen --- perceived a matinee David who vanquished two aging Titans.
Yet, this man could have just been on the beach in the changing tide of politics.
Manila is often taken as the Philippines itself; her Mayor at once a presidential timber. That was then but not today. Areas around have grown to a megapolis while Manila atrophied.
No one remembers she ever producing a senator nor a Vice-President, neither a President (except for Lim of Tondo and Estrada, carpet-bagger from San Juan).
But senators abound now from adjoining cities: Makati, the Binays; Taguig, the Cayetanos, Las Pinas, the Villars, San Juan, Estrada-Ejercito. And Gonzales in Mandaluyong, Gatchalian in Valenzuela. In contrast, Manila’s Moreno lost and landed 15th in 2016 in a bid for the Senate, Atienza too afraid to try, as other Manila Mayors and majors merely salivated.
The opening days. But really, just cosmetics.
Cleaning the grime of the Vitas slaughterhouse, closing the Manila Zoo for environmental shortfalls, washing off graffiti and human waste on the Bonifacio monument --- powerful images of reform but de riguer for incoming public officials.
A second tranche appears more meaningful: refusing an alleged P5-million/day payola from illegal vendors, on-the-spot inspection of policemen on duty, intensifying illegal drug campaign at Baseco, dismantling street structures as instructed by The President, or face suspension.
Rags to rugged.
But chill and check him out first: born October 24, 1974, the only child of Joaquin and Rosario Domagoso. The family is among the endemic poor at Parola (lighthouse area turned slum), the father a stevedore at the North Harbor, earning barely enough.
At Grade 4, Isko turned mangangalakal, euphemism for scavengers selling recyclable junk.
He finished at Rosauro Almario Elementary School, then went to Tondo High School. By then, he was "promoted" a pedicab driver, struggling and without teenage indulgences.
He enrolled at the Phil Maritime Institute (PMI) for a degree in Marine Engineering to ply international waters for the mighty dollar.
But in 1992, a cross-current carried Isko elsewhere.
Stars twinkle brightly that night at a wake in Tondo. Talent hunter Wowie Roxas spotted Isko --- young, dashing, a star material. His screen name, Isko Moreno, is a tribute to his discoverer and mentor, German (Kuya Germs) Moreno who hosted the hit-show, "That's Entertainment.”
Well, still menial roles. But his perseverance earned him enough to dream again.
1998 was an epiphany of his fire power in partisan politics. He was elected among the top as Councilor for the First District; re-elected in 2001 with the highest vote Manila-wide; easily repeated among the top in 2004.
In 2007, he was elected Vice-Mayor. Easy.
His appeal was based on pro-poor ordinances, particularly in education, health and housing. He crossed party lines when principles are compromised; never looking at personal gain but for the poor and unprivileged.
He believes in self-improvement to serve more effectively. With the help of then Vice Mayor Danny Lacuna, Moreno enrolled for a degree in Management at the Intl Academy of Management and Economics, attended crash courses on local legislation and finance at the NCLRG of the College of Public Administration-UP, enrolled at the Arellano Univ School of Law.
He studied Public Administration at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), attended leadership and governance courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and more at the Said Business School of the University of Oxford.
Despite black propaganda and actual arrest on alleged illegal bingo operations, Moreno was easily re-elected Vice-Mayor in tandem with Mayor Estrada. His 80,000 votes over his nearest rival in his first try stayed solid and undisputed.
Moreno has served at the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission.
On July 2017, Pres. Duterte appointed him Chairman of the Board of the North Luzon Railways (NorthRail) until his resignation in October. In May 2018, he was appointed Under Secretary for Luzon Affairs at the Dept of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). He resigned in October to run for Mayor of Manila.
Isko Domagoso Moreno polled 150,000 votes over his nearest rival, the incumbent Mayor Erap Estrada and lot more over former Mayor Fred Lim --- the shepherd David over two Goliaths!
But after engaging in the moment, he retreated to the embrace of wife, Diana Lynn Ditan and their five children: Vincent Patrick (1998), Frances Diane (2000), Joaquín André (2001), Franco Dylan (2006) and Drake Marcus (2012).
Has he regained perspective for more meaningful governance?
He seems to swagger as Duterte does, just substituting presidential curses with dated street slangs, of Centennial vintage over Millennial audience.
Whatever. But read his lips: more jobs, more opportunities: our solution to eradicate both crime and unemployment in the City of Manila.
At “Straight Talk with Daily Tribune,” Domagoso said he had asked top companies to allot 70% of their workforce to residents of the capital city.
He had earlier appealed to members of the Makati Business Club (MBC), an elite organization of companies with offices on Ayala Avenue. Most maritime companies are based in Manila, gravitating in Kalaw Street near the Rizal Park.
Tourists and residents may soon be walking on the beach of Manila Bay, watching the glory of its world-famous sunset. The Mayor announced “The national government will build a 50-meter beach and water treatment facilities,” cleaning waste before it seeps to the bay.
On 27 January, the national government kicked off the rehabilitation, people flocked to watch as tons of waste are being collected on joint effort of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Tourism (DoT) and Interior and Local Government (DILG) and “The Department of Public Works and Highways, DOT, MMDA, and DENR asked us for a space near the Yacht Club to put up a water monitoring system,” he adds.
Panamanian Ambassador to the Philippines Rolando Guevara Alvarado said Panama could help bolster efforts to preserve and protect cultural heritage in Manila, among other fields.
He also noted that Filipino seafarers are world-class workers who are preferred by maritime firms in Panama.
Panama has the world’s largest fleet of ships registered, with Filipino seafarers making up around 60 % of its workforce. About 3,000 to 4,000 Filipinos apply to work on board Panamanian-registered vessels every month.
Alvarado is the third ambassador to meet with Moreno after US Ambassador Sung Kim and British Ambassador Daniel Pruce. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda was scheduled tail-end of July.
Not me, folks.
In a humbling statement rare for politicians, Mayor Domagoso-Moreno underscores the welling interest is not because of him but of Manila --- Manila, where the Philippines is.
After the first 100 days and the traditional honeymoon with mass media, let us revisit his works over pronouncements. Just that we keep our objectivity, sans emotion for a poor boy rising but a scalpel to critique his talk on his walk.
Who knows, presidential daughter may fancy him for her own plans. Or Senator Pacquiao for a populist team --- it may yet be just hype these days but “That’s Entertainment!”
Or an incredible journey from the garbage of Manila Bay to the Palace by the Pasig River.