Pasig’s Vico Sotto to city hall workers: Smile even when ‘not in the mood’

JC Gotinga

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Pasig’s Vico Sotto to city hall workers: Smile even when ‘not in the mood’

The new mayor uses his father's brand of humor as he issues a stern warning to city hall employees

MANILA, Philippines – The city government’s new “bossing” takes a page from his father’s playbook and uses sitcom-style humor to lay down some rather stern instructions to city hall workers.

Nagpapasalamat po ako sa napakainit na pagtanggap ninyo sa akin bilang alkalde ng ating lungsod (I am grateful for the very warm welcome you gave me as mayor of our city),” Vico Sotto told the city’s civil servants on his second flag ceremony in office. 

It was a sweaty, sunny morning, but even ordinary people outside the city hall courtyard stood on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the son of two big artistas (stars), who himself looks artistahin (like a star).

Lalong-lalo na po sa mga opisinang sira ang aircon, napakainit po talaga ng pagtanggap ninyo (Especially those whose offices have broken aircons, your welcome was really very warm)!”

With that, Mayor Sotto cracked up the rank and file arrayed before him with the brand of humor that endeared comedian “Bossing” Vic Sotto, his father, to Filipinos – simple, a bit self-deprecating, poking fun at an unfortunate and embarrassing situation such as government offices without proper air conditioning.

Then, with the crowd still chuckling at his quip, he went on: “Isa lang paalala, paalala na may kaunting, may gentle na babala o warning, na ayusin po natin ang mga serbisyo natin, lalo na po yung mga frontliners natin. Sana po ay lagi tayong nakangiti, lagi po tayong accommodating, kahit minsan po ay wala tayo sa mood … sana po maging welcoming pa rin tayo at hindi mainitin ang ulo.”

(Just one reminder with a little, with a gentle warning, that we improve on our services, especially our frontliners. I hope we always smile, that we’re always accommodating, even if sometimes we are not in the mood … I hope we remain welcoming and not be hotheaded.)

“Sana po, huwag umabot sa panahon na kailangan may mapagsabihan o masuspinde, OK lang po ba (I hope we don’t get to a point when it’s necessary to reprimand or suspend anyone, is that OK)?” the mayor asked.

And the crowd of city hall employees responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”

Sotto then reiterated his plan to set up an e-mail address, a telephone hotline, and a letter dropbox to receive complaints about city government services, adding he would read every complaint himself.

Sotto took office last week, July 1, after a surprise electoral victory against former Mayor Bobby Eusebio, whose clan had been ensconced in Pasig’s city hall for nearly 30 years.

One of his first major directives was to suspend the city’s odd-even traffic scheme, which had been in place since 2016. Motorists had complained that that the scheme was too stringent, and yet ineffective. The city still suffered daily traffic gridlocks.

A committee is studying the city’s traffic problem and is expected to recommend a new policy by mid-August.

Festive mood

Sotto promised reforms in the city’s bureaucracy, which caused some casual employees to worry about their jobs. He said last week that he would not fire any city hall worker.

The mood on this second flag ceremony of Sotto’s mayoralty was festive. A marching band accompanied a troop of city government employees in a dance number to launch their Nutrition Month campaign to fight obesity. The band played the theme song of “Eat Bulaga,” the long-running noontime show that made his father a household name.

“Pag hindi tayo kumakain nang mabuti ay mahirap din magtrabaho nang mabuti (If we do not eat well, then it’s also hard to work properly),” Sotto told the crowd after the dance. 

“Siguro po, ang sinasabi sa atin ni (city health chief) Ma’am Almario ay huwag na lang tayong kumain, parang ganoon po yata ‘yung sinasabi ni Ma’am (Maybe what city health chief Ma’am Almario is telling us is that we should just not eat at all, I think that’s what Ma’am is saying).”

On that note, the young mayor sent the city’s employees off to another week laughing – and working. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.