It’s mid-morning on a Friday and Manila City Hall is abuzz with the excitement and eagerness to please of new hires on their first day of work. Everyone stands at attention: the Mayor is In. He has already started his day hours earlier, at half past eight in the morning, speaking before the graduating class of Adamson University at the Philippine International Convention Centre, and is about to continue his official schedule for the day. His mere presence is electrifying the place. Such is life around the country’s currently most popular mayor, Francisco Moreno Domagoso, familiarly Isko Moreno, or, more familiarly, Yorme.
Everyone seems more than happy to serve this chief executive of six months and 24 days (at the time of the pictorial/interview). For with a decisiveness shown early in his term, particularly in the way he cleaned the streets of Manila of illegal vendors and illegally parked cars (an impossibility in the days of his predecessors), Moreno has inspired not only his constituents but a nation hungry for heroes.
The next item on his agenda is the Command Conference with the city’s police commanders, led by Police District Director General Bernabe Balba. Moreno firmly reminds the more than 60 law enforcers about City Ordinance 55/55, which mainly prohibits the police and government officials from drinking in public. Once caught, the offender does not get a second chance because of the city’s one-strike policy. “Remember that when I say someone has violated 55/55, I already have a photograph to back me up,” he reminds the men in blue. “A rotten tomato must be taken out of the basket and once there is discipline, the work of the policeman will be easier.”
A few minutes into the Command Conference, Chief of Staff Cesar Chavez politely requests the media (Tatler Philippines and a television crew) to leave the room and give the Mayor a chance to discuss classified matters with the city police commanders.
Tatler Philippines was then ushered into the Mayor’s office, where Moreno holds his official meetings. His desk and chair are placed at the far short end of the rectangular room, with the seal of his office looming behind. A few chairs are lined up, face to face on both sides of the desk and more chairs arranged theatre style. A technical booth stands unobtrusively at the back of the room, which also serves as the Mayor’s studio for his weekly programme, The Capital Report, every Friday afternoon. With wooden walls and parquet floors, brown hues dominate. But today, three piggy banks, two blue and one yellow, disrupt the palette. Donations from the Mayor’s supporters, staff Josh Vera Cruz explains. The yellow piggy bank came from a seventh grader from Caloocan City and the two blues from OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers). They learnt of Moreno’s InCity Vertical Housing project from his Facebook account and believe in his dream of providing homes for the homeless of the city.
Moreno emerges from a side door. He is holding a tall cup of Starbucks brewed coffee, one of four or five he regularly consumes in a day. “This is my pat on the back. Every cup reminds me to be grateful because now I can afford to spend 120 pesos for coffee when, once upon a time I could not,” he tells us.
This is my pat on the back. Every cup reminds me to be grateful that now I can afford 120 pesos for coffee when, once upon a time I could not— Isko Moreno