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Yorme to Filipinos: You’re me

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Sep 24, 2021 5:00 am

In a one-minute paid ad on television, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who declared Wednesday his candidacy for president, is seen delivering a speech on his rags-to-riches (accomplishment-wise, if you will) story and exhorting all that his inspiring story could be yours, too.

From a scavenger in Smokey Mountain, to movie actor, to Manila vice mayor, then mayor. And if destined, President of the Philippines.

“Ako kayo, hindi sususko. Ako si Isko. Tayo si Isko,” are the closing lines of the ad.

Moreno, who goes by the moniker “Yorme,” is telling the Filipino people, “You can be like me. You can break free of unfair profiling.”

You’re me.

 ‘I will be a healing president.’ Photo by KJ Rosales

Healing President

Yorme likened himself to a job applicant, and rightly so. That was brilliant. Whether he gets the job or not is in the hands of a panel of millions of voters.

“Kaya buong kababaang loob inihahayag ko sa inyo mga kababayan ko, sa darating na Mayo, tanggapin po ang aking aplikasyon bilang pangulo ng Pilipinas,” he said in his declaration speech at the Baseco compound in Tondo, one of the poorest places in the country that has been made more livable under Yorme’s watch.

He vowed that if elected, he would be a ‘healing president,’ shun ‘rear-view mirror politics’ and continue the good projects this administration had begun, particularly under ‘Build, Build, Build.’

The transformation of Baseco is a symbol of what Yorme said in his speech, “I will not, or I do not run on promises. I run on prototypes.” Manila has many of them — hospitals, quarantine centers, pharmacies, learning modules.

A visibly emotional Yorme began his speech by narrating how many people, rich and poor from all over the country, knocked on Manila’s doors for life-saving anti-COVID drugs. I personally know of the sibling of a socialite who benefited from, in Yorme’s words, Manila’s “Pambansang Parmasya.”

“If the virus respects no political boundaries, then our compassion must not stop at the city boundaries. So what we had, we shared with them,” Yorme said.

He also vowed that if elected, he would be a “healing president,” shun “rear-view mirror politics” and continue the good projects this administration had begun, particularly under “Build, Build, Build.”

Like another presidential contender, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Yorme promises to dedicate his efforts, if elected, to uplifting the lives of the poor.

“Kaya paslit pa lang po ako, itinatak ko na sa aking isipan na sa pagbibigay ng tulong sa kapwa, huwag pahirapan ang mga mahihirap. You give them red carpet treatment, not red tape.”

 A scene from the ‘Ako si Isko’ TV ad making the rounds of media.

Yorme and Pacquiao are the nth presidential candidates in the history of this nation to promise better lives for the poor. All presidential candidates serenade voters, a majority of whom are poor, with those words. “Erap para sa mahirap” was former President Estrada’s campaign slogan, and though the masses identified with him, he was born to San Juan’s elite (nothing to be ashamed of).

Few candidates were dirt poor like Yorme and Pacquiao who know whereof they speak when they talk of hunger. Pacquiao slept on cardboard on the streets of General Santos. Yorme scavenged for food, making sure he deep-fried it before consuming to kill the bacteria.

When he was running for mayor in 2019, Yorme told PeopleAsia: ‘I made a very bold statement during the (campaign). Dadalhin ko ang Makati sa Maynila. I will duplicate what Makati citizens are receiving from their Makati city government.’

And yet, history shows that those who were once poor don’t always become pro-poor when they become part of the nouveau riche, or succeed in uplifting their lives when they hold the reins of power. Being once poor is really no guarantee.

Track record is more reliable than promises, and that, Yorme definitely has. Track record. Yes, Manila is his prototype.

When he was running for mayor in 2019, he told PeopleAsia, “I made a very bold statement during the (campaign). Dadalhin ko ang Makati sa Maynila (I will bring Makati to Manila). I will duplicate what Makati citizens are receiving from their Makati city government.”

I think that with the way he has cleaned up many filthy thoroughfares and markets in the city’s capital, and the way he was the takbuhan ng bayan for such life-saving drugs as Remdesevir and Tocilizumab, that promise has been kept.

 Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso or ‘Yorme’ with wife Diana Lyn Ditan, running mate Dr. Willie Ong and his wife Dr. Liza Ong.

His inclusion of Dr. Willie Ong, who is clean as a whistle, has a heart of gold, and is a doctor — it’s always reassuring to have a doctor in the house, especially during a health crisis — was a surprise. But after the initial surprise, it made sense. Ong, the only doctor who ran for senator in 2019, placed 18th even if he was not with any major political party and is said to have garnered the second-highest number of votes from overseas Filipino workers.

Though I know that what he was trying to say was that he had no pedigree, I believe it was unnecessary for him to say, “Hindi n’yo makikita sa pera ang mukha ng aking walang perang mga ninuno. No avenues named after them. Kahit nga iskinita o waiting shed wala silang pangalang Domagoso (his legal surname).”

I believe Vice President Leni Robredo was sincere in saying that she was open to supporting Yorme if he would be the candidate that would unite the opposition. Sen. Grace Poe, I heard, is also supporting him. According to the grapevine, so are a lot of big businessmen and OFWs.

According to lawyer Howie Calleja, one of 1Sambayan’s convenors (along with former Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario), “1Sambayan is confident that we would have a single unified democratic candidate for the May 22 elections.”

I asked Lito Banayo, who was Postmaster General during the Corazon Aquino presidency, Philippine Tourism Authority chairman during the Estrada administration, MECO chairman under the Duterte administration, and now one of Yorme’s advisers (Banayo has never lost a campaign), why the Manila mayor has crossed the Rubicon.

He said, paraphrasing Edmund Burke,  “For evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”