Isko Moreno

Home of the saddest: A life lesson from Isko Moreno

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Home of the saddest: A life lesson from Isko Moreno

PEP TALK. Tahanang Pinakamasaya host Isko Moreno speaks before the show’s live audience after the Saturday episode in the APT Studio in Cainta, Rizal on March 2, 2024.

Screenshot/Tahanang Pinakamasaya YouTube

There’s something we can all learn from this episode in Yorme’s life: it’s about bouncing back from setbacks

Another year, another setback for former Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. 

After losing badly in the 2022 presidential elections, actor-politician Isko Moreno goes through another loss after the Jalosjos family axed its noon show, Tahanang Pinakamasaya (Home of the Happiest), where he was the lead host along with actor Paolo Contis. 

The show aired its last episode on Saturday, March 2, after TAPE failed to turn things around for its noon show following the loss of showbiz veterans Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon in May 2023

Home of the saddest: A life lesson from Isko Moreno

Moreno and Contis were taken in as the lead replacements for the three veteran comedians, and they bore the brunt of the flak from fans of Eat Bulaga, who saw them as no different from strikebreakers, or in Filipino, mga eskirol

Moreno and Contis took on the near-impossible task of making people happy more than how TVJ and Vice Ganda are able to do it in the competing shows, E.A.T. Bulaga on TV5, and on ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime now shown also on GMA Network’s free TV channel GTV.

I say near-impossible because Moreno isn’t really a comic.

Although he was mentored by the late showman, German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, he really can’t make people laugh the way Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, and Vice Ganda are able to. Just from his looks alone, Moreno already has a disadvantage.

Comedians who have imperfections have an edge over those who are guwapo (handsome) or maganda (beautiful) because the latter can always make fun of their looks. Vice Ganda, for instance, occasionally makes light of what he says is his resemblance to a horse. Compare the late Comedy King Dolphy’s funny face to Moreno’s and you’ll get the point. 

Home of the saddest: A life lesson from Isko Moreno

Since appearing on Tahanang Pinakamasaya in June 2023, Moreno was the giver of cash and prizes to the poor, akin to what Willie Revillame often did on his now-defunct show, Wowowin. In one of the early episodes after he was brought in, he bought all the banana cue that a vendor was selling.

A giver of aid is unlike a natural comedian. The former gives cash and makes one person happy, the latter delivers laughs and makes everybody happy.

None of the co-hosts of Tahanang Pinakamasaya could match the comedic skills of Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, and Vice Ganda. None of them could make viewers as “happy” as their competitors are doing, so I’m not surprised that Tahanang Pinakamasaya ratings couldn’t keep up with E.A.T. Bulaga and It’s Showtime.

Standing up after falling

While this turn of events may seem to be a setback for Moreno, take a look at how he takes it right after the show last Saturday.

A 10-minute video of what happened backstage after Tahanang Pinakamasaya’s last episode in the APT Studio in Cainta, Rizal was uploaded on Monday, March 4.

Watch what Moreno does after closing the show, in this video below starting from 1 minute 10 seconds. He steps onto a ledge and speaks before the live audience while other people start crying and some production crew begin embracing and comforting other people. He stands there for less than a minute, speaks (no audio on this video), turns after giving a message, pats his co-hosts on the back, goes down the stairs, and leaves the studio. Not a teardrop.

Home of the saddest: A life lesson from Isko Moreno

Those who don’t know Moreno would probably just dismiss this backstage action. 

Not me. There’s something we can all learn from this episode in Yorme’s life: it’s about bouncing back from setbacks. 

Those who know Moreno would probably understand the significance of this incident. 

Unlike some politicians who claim to have gone through poverty before making it big, Moreno’s life of overcoming poverty is real. 

His father was a stevedore who worked in the pier in Manila, and his mother was a laundry woman. They lived in a slum community in Tondo. Below is a Rappler special report on Moreno’s life if you care to read: ISKO MORENO: From the slums of Tondo to Manila’a throne

His father only had work if there were ships, and there was often a queue of people who needed the job. Since they didn’t have enough money, they sometimes ate other people’s leftovers, also called pagpag.

“Di ba, yung mga mayayaman, balat lang. Minsan isang kagat lang. Kinukuha namin yun. Kasi nakasupot na itim yun, e, malinis naman yun. Tapos, piprito namin uli,” he was quoted as having said in an interview. 

(Some of the rich, they only eat the skin, sometimes they just take a bite. We get what’s left, it’s clean anyway. Then we fry it again.) 

In 1993, a talent manager spotted Moreno when he was just a teenager and he eventually became part of Kuya Germs’ That’s Entertainment show. The rest is history, as they say. 

Moreno would go on to become a successful actor, a three-term Manila city councilor and a three-term Manila vice mayor. He failed in his Senate bid in 2016, but went on to upset incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada in the 2019 elections. His achievements as mayor of Manila became the foundation for a bid for the presidency in 2022.

READ: How Isko Moreno’s promising candidacy petered out

Moreno didn’t finish school, but in 2003, he got a business administration degree from the Makati-based International Academy of Management and Economics. Not content with this, he would go on to take leadership programs in Harvard and Oxford.

Now, what does Moreno say after Tahanang Pinakamasaya is axed? 

In a post on his Facebook page on Sunday, he says: “Ang buhay maraming pagsubok. Minsan kapag may nagsasarang pintuan, may nagbubukas na bintana…Sa bawat pagsubok sa buhay, minsan pinagtitibay lang tayo ‘yan. Dahil mayroon pa tayong kahaharapin na mas mabigat pagdating ng araw.”

(Life has many challenges. Sometimes, when a door closes, a window opens. In every challenge in life, sometimes it makes us stronger. Because we still have stronger challenges to face.)

Make no mistake about it, Moreno is made of sterner stuff. What happened to him and Tahanang Pinakamasaya is nothing compared to what he’s been through in life. 

Moreno is known for the way he plays with Filipino words, but his stories about how he overcame poverty are what resonate with many people. One that I recall is when he said that like wealth, poverty can also bring “inheritance” because inheriting poverty makes one stronger. 

These are lessons that many Filipinos can relate to because we face many difficulties in life – illness, poverty, man-made and natural disasters, injustice – oftentimes with little support except from family.

So, expect Moreno to easily bounce back from this minor setback. I’m sure he also finds comfort in the Japanese proverb “Nana korobi, ya oki” or “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” – 


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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.