Isko Moreno: Guiding his kids in every step

Isko Moreno: Guiding his kids in every step

By Jane Kingsu-Cheng

For most parents who grew up in the ‘90s, “Isko Moreno” is a household name. People remember his humble roots in Tondo, Manila, helping his family earn extra income at a tender age of 10 years old. And it was, by chance, that he was discovered and invited to join the afternoon variety show “That’s Entertainment” which kicked off his show business career.

Despite being a matinee idol with legions of fans, Francisco Moreno Domagoso (his real name) yearned for something more than being in the limelight. He slowly left the world of glamour to work on building his dream family. At the same time, he also wanted to bring back the glory of Manila, the city he grew up in, the city he loves.

Almost 20 years since that career shift, Moreno is now experiencing it all! He’s happily married to Dianna Lynn Ditan, with five amazing children: Patrick, 21; Frances, 18;Joaquin, 17; Franco, 13; and Drake, 6. Raising five kids can be quite overwhelming, but Moreno takes it all in stride. He has managed to balance both fatherhood and public service for over two decades, from when he started out as a councilor in 1998 to being the newly elected Mayor of Manila this 2019.

Now, he bears the fruit of all his hard work, truly deserving of the new mayor’s post. But he knows it comes with a price. “I try to make myself available to the public, especially kapag may na aberya. At ang kabayaran, mas limitado ang oras ko sa pamilya,” Moreno admitted. Even though there is limited time allotted for the family, he makes sure that every moment with them is well spent. One-on-one conversations are filled with reassurance and guidance, each quality moment catering to a different stage in each of the lives of his five children.

Dealing with failure

Moreno’s firstborn Patrick, 21, is about to graduate from college. He will be entering a bigger world filled with a lot of turning points that could lead to either success or failure. Patrick puts a heavy weight on his shoulders, with a lot of worrying involved. Moreno prepped him by sharing what he had to go through to reach for his dreams. “Kasi normal naman iyon. I think every person is always worried when they fail at something.”

Proud father guides his firstborn, Patrick (right photo), with adulting conversations as he graduates from college.

He cited his Senatorial loss last 2016, “If you come to think of it, parang the end of the world na, ‘di ba? But sa awa ng Diyos, I told him (Patrick), kapag persistent ka, consistent ka and you’re focused on certain directions, you will never forget to look back also on lessons that you have learned.” With every mistake you make, you’re one step closer to success. “What matters most is your mindset on how you deal with failure. Huwag kang matatakot, because it’s better to try and fail than failing by not doing anything.”

Learning to let go

Out of all the five children, it’s their second child and only daughter who has been very vocal about studying abroad since she was six years old. Frances, 18, is fortunate to have parents who are supportive of this bold move. “Halfhearted ako, but given the chance, kung kakayanin nila, bakit hindi? To see the world, para madagdagan yung kanyang perspective sa buhay,” explained Moreno.

Most parents would prefer that their children stay in the comforts of their home. “Scary, syempre. Hindi naman madaling ma-detach sa kasama mo araw-araw. But like any other parent, there is a time for us to decide when to let go. And we should let go, para hindi naman sila mabuhay sa isang kahon. On their own, malaman nila yung mga challenges.”

Always here to support

His third child, Joaquin, 17, has made waves recently. The father-and-son tandem appeared in Boy Abunda’s show, announcing the start of Joaquin’s show business career. Although Moreno had to stop school to work as an actor (he graduated from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila with a degree in Public Administration later on), he wishes all his children to prioritize school.

Moreno gives his blessings to his third son, Joaquin (left photo), who wants to dabble into acting.

With much persistence from Joaquin, Moreno finally gave in, on the condition that he will continue college while dabbling into acting. “Pero ako kasi, minsan, ayaw kong mapagpilit. Kung yun ang gusto niya at talagang pinanggigigilan niya, pinapayuhan ko na lang siya ng mga bagay na alam ko sa industriyang dati kong kinabibilangan.” Even though Moreno’s dreams are different from Joaquin’s, he still believes in supporting his children’s passion for them to thrive and succeed. “As a parent, you support his happiness. If you’re happy with it and I think it will not harm anybody, okay na ako.”

Setting ground rules

Any parent would be in cloud nine if their child tells them that they want to do the same things you do. This happened with his fourth child, Franco, 13, who Moreno spends time playing video games. He expressed an interest in being a serious gamer, leading Moreno to bring him to the computer shop to buy the equipment he needed to get into the PC gaming world.

But despite sharing the same interests, Moreno was quick to lay down the rules. “If you’re happy with it, susuportahan kita. Pero pag sinabi ko naman, ‘Anak, okay yun games pero ganitong oras lang tapos huwag ganitong araw. Or pag meron kang assignment, hindi na pwede. Give me good grades first.”

Delayed gratification

His youngest, Drake, 6, who is now six years old, spends the most time with Moreno. The crucial developmental years were spent with the doting father, since he didn’t have a localgovernment city position last term, giving him more time with Drake. They spend time by building with Lego blocks, playing MineCraft, and watching videos together. Although Moreno shared that Drake would go online shopping, this little boy never misses to get the approval of his parents. When asked if Moreno says yes to him all the time, his reply, “Not all the time, but I do give in, delayed lang. No lang kunwari.”

Moreno’s parenting style is all about guiding his children, whether it be the path they agreed to take, or another passion they chose to pursue. Either way, he believes that he should be there to guide them by laying out the cards so they know the repercussions. “But, sometimes, I put a dot in everything. Kapag sinabi kong stop, stop. If you don’t do it, I’ll get mad. If I get mad, you’ll pay the consequences,” Moreno explained that he hopes his parenting style will help his children. “I’m trying to put a certain level of discipline and I hope, gagawin nila yun ng kusa. I always believe in self-discipline kasi mas maraming self-realizations and learnings.”