Man of the People
Mayor Isko Moreno on going up against two political giants, his
journey to the mayorship, and his plans for the future of Manila
BY GODFREY T. DANCEL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
The story of Mayor Isko’s humble beginnings is an oft-repeated one. It is a story he never tires of telling, not only to prove that he has not forgotten his roots but more importantly, to inspire children who are facing circumstances he had been through, to work hard toward their goal.
Born to a stevedore and a housewife who had no steady income, he had to face the harsh realities of an underprivileged life. “Kung mayroon mang mas mabigat sa salitang ‘salat,’ ako ang tinutukoy ‘nun (If there is a word which means worse than ‘destitute,’ it pertains to me),” he says.
The young Isko—Scott as he was known then—had to rummage through garbage heaps to scavenge
not only for things he could sell, but at times even for food. In his teenage years, he became a pedicab
driver, conveying passengers through the streets of Tondo. These, he had to do even as he attended public schools in Tondo.
Scott’s parents had a simple dream for him: to finish high school. After all, they didn’t have the means to send him to college. He, however, had a bigger dream for himself: to be captain of a ship. He then enrolled at a maritime school using money he had saved up the previous months.
Fate, however, intervened. In 1993, he was given the chance to join the entertainment industry, via the then enormously popular youth-oriented television show “That’s Entertainment.” This, Mayor Isko says, “started everything. It changed my life.”