I attended the 20th Anniversary of Children's Joy Foundation, Inc. (CJFI), a shelter for children whose parents, in one way or another, cannot take care of their kids.
It's the same children's shelter that's helping the kid who was latched onto my leg to show his gratitude for the time I shared with him when I visited CJFI in 2016. The kid's mom has a mental issue while the dad was a victim of 2012's Typhoon Pablo. Pablo's strong winds blew away a roof and part of it hit the dad's stomach. The father, while now stable, is still healing from his wounds.
But I'm digressing.
I told one of the CJFI administrators that I am really happy that they are helping these kids. If left alone, these kids would only be dreaming to survive for another day.
With the shelter's help, however, they gain the freedom to dream bigger, to become professional adults who can compete with those who had way better opportunities than they had.
It was a very happy event, as I discovered that CJFI wards from years back , who were so poor and helpless when they were still kids, have now become lawyers, accountants, teachers... they have become competent professionals who actually have a pretty good fighting chance in life.
I know the foundation helped them get through childhood, but I didn't know that they turned into magna cum laude graduates and CPA-Lawyers and Litigation Lawyers and whatnot.
I even told one of the adminstrators, "Wow, these kids who had so much less than I had when I was a kid are now far more accomplished than I am! Maybe you should adopt me at CGFI too! 😂
BUMPING INTO FORMER NORTHRAIL BOARD MEMBER ISKO MORENO
One of the guests in the event was Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso and I bumped into him while I was at the hotel lobby.
The ensuing conversation was fascinating, to say the least.
I asked him why he resigned from NORTHRAILPH just three months into his appointment.
I've heard rumors that the government-owned and -controlled corporation NorthRail is rife with corruption, so I can't help but give credence to the other rumor that he resigned from NorthRail because of what Pres.Rody Duterte calls "whiff of corruption".
His answer surprised me.
FIRST, he didn't disparage NorthRail. While I would've preferred that he dish out some juicy tidbits about the inner workings of this GOCC, I commend the undersecretary for his professionalism as he refrained from badmouthing what can be considered as his "former employer".
You see, HR professionals generally dislike applicants who openly lambast their former companies too much.
SECOND, he honestly said that he's not a very technical guy. He outrightly told me that he's no expert in finance and engineering. Afterwards and to my surprise, he said he resigned that early because he felt that the president should appoint someone who's more suited to the job than him because Filipinos deserve the best Public Service.
Well, I am talking to a relatively seasoned politician so I am not certain if he's just pulling my leg, but what he said is actually true and he speaks with an uncanny air of authenticity. I've spoken to a lot of politicians over the past couple of years, and I think I'm pretty good at judging when someone is lying.
I believe he wasn't. Moreover, the fact that the president appointed him to a higher position in a cabinet department is evidence enough for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.
DSWD USEC ISKO MORENO
And that leads us to the next question: I asked the undersecretary why he accepted the DSWD appointment.
He said helping the less fortunate has always been part of his advocacies. Well, there's nothing really surprising about that, as any politician would say the same.
What said next, however, suprised me again.
He said he lived in a squatter colony in Tondo, Manila for 18 years before he became an actor. He said he has experienced and endured similar, if not drastically worse, hardships that DSWD beneficiaries face.
He said an ideal DSWD official must have a deep understanding of the suffering of the poor, so that he can deliver the best service regardless of the challenges he'll face. He said understanding suffering cannot simply be taught in school: one has to experience it, feel it, see it.
And he experienced, felt, and seen suffering first hand, for 18 years, so he thinks that his appointment to DSWD is not just a responsibility, but a blessing.
So we went back to the conference hall to watch the ceremonies, where there was a series of speakers. I spoke first and he was scheduled to speak last.
During his turn to speak, he nonchalantly said he has a prepared English speech, but he's really bad in English so he'd rather deliver an impromptu speech in Tagalog.
That kind of self-deprecating honesty is rare in politicians, whose egos typically fill the Araneta Coliseum.
He pleasantly surprised me again.
He delivered an impromptu speech, in plain and fluent Tagalog, and I can confidently say that I can't speak Tagalog as well as he does, as effectively as he does.
There was a part where he said, "Huwag kang umasang may mangyayaring kakaiba bukas kung ang ginawa mo ngayon ay katulad ng kahapon."
TRANSLATION: "Don't hope that something new will happen tomorrow if what you did today is the same as yesterday.".
I know that the idea is not exactly original, but his surprisingly poetic wording is. I tried to google that exact Tagalog sentence and I can't find anything.
Yeah, he came up with it himself.
TIME TO GO HOME
Then it was time to go home, and I bumped into him again at the hotel lobby. This time, he was with his teenage son. He said his son tagged along and watched the CJFI Anniversary Ceremonies too.
I asked him why he brought his son there and how his son managed to evade death from boredom.
He said he lived a tough life, but his son didn't. He said his son is very privileged. For that reason, he brings the kid to events like these so the child can learn about the lives of real Filipino kids who don't have a wealthy celebrity dad.
He said he doesn't want his son to suffer the same things he went through, but he also doesn't want him to be oblivious of the reality on the ground, and that's why the teen tagged along tonight.
And he said all these with a body language that does not, in any way, suggest deceit. Either he's a incredibly good liar, or he's just plain and brutally authentic.Judging from tonight's conversations, I feel that it's the latter.
I like this Isko guy a lot, so far.
And no, this not a paid post. I wrote this because I felt the need to tell it.
Oh! And that other guy is Jay Manalo. Yeah, I almost died.
That's freaking Jay Manalo!!! 🤭