MANILA City Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso, aka Isko Moreno, is now 44 years old and is the youngest elected mayor of the city. He was 23 when he became the youngest councilor. Do the math, and you’ll see that the slumdog from Tondo waited for over two decades to become the busiest crusader among all the week-old local executives we’ve ever seen on this side of the planet.
The boy waited. He was city councilor for nine years and had two consecutive terms as vice mayor. He gave way for the ousted president Joseph Estrada (who moved to the capital city from San Juan) with the deal that Moreno will have his chance in the next elections. Three years later, Estrada held on to his seat, prompting Moreno to break away and run for senator instead. He didn’t make the cut, landing only at 15th place. But the boy did wait, and eventually beat Estrada by a killing of almost 150,000 votes in this year’s mid-term elections.
But the boy did prepare as well. Getting scarce from the showbiz limelight, he took courses at the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance. He availed himself of scholarships, completed the US State Department-sponsored International Business Leaders Program and the executive programs at Oxford University and the JFK School of Government in Harvard University. With every rare media mileage he got through the years, he appeared with noticeable transformation each time. He definitely knew what he was doing.
A good deal of the city that he now governs runs in his blood, and with ample training in public governance, he now sits as mayor with both chi and chops.
A week in office, Moreno saturates social media by merely doing what is expected of local chief executives—talk squarely with stakeholders, rid the city of garbage, push for accountability, introduce innovations, and be clear with the citizens about policy directions.
To rouse the perennial mess that is Manila from its stupor means waking an ancient beast on all fours. In one of the interviews, Moreno said that the presence of sidewalk vendors alone indicates that someone in position of power is getting windfall. In the same breath, he calls for institutions to banish the names of “epals” inscribed on any government facility in acts of shameless self-promotion.
If anything, Moreno’s actions inspire optimism and reminds the public on certain ideals. Good governance is also good politics.