Indeed, skinny Francisco Damacosog, who lived and breathed hunger and pain since his early childhood in one of the toughest sides of Tondo, rose from being a dance and sing "That's Entertainment" teenage talent of German Moreno to become Manila's vice-mayor in his late '20s.
He was discovered by a talent manager who saw a handsome kid beyond the dirt and difficult circumstances that surrounded him.
His discoverer brought him to TV host-actor Kuya Germs who took Isko under his wings and opened the wonderful world of showbusiness to his eyes.
But Isko was not so successful in the youth-oriented TV program and was not given the opportunity for marked roles that would pave way to stardom.
Having saved a little to make himself and his family comfortable, Isko thought of going back to school in the '80s because showbiz is not a lifetime career.
He started in politics as a Manila councilor --learning the ropes of the trade in a hard way. Having had difficulties expresssing himself in English, Isko often suffered humiliation and embarrassment whenever his critics ganged up on him in the session hall. His colleagues could see nothing extra-ordinary in the youthful, good-looking boy who was once featured near-naked in a poster.
But no amount of cruelties could stop him as he went on to finish college with a public administration major at the Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila while serving as an alderman.
Now, he is a sophomore law student at the University of the Philippines where he hopes to learn more about good governance and law administration.
One can now notice the absence of sheepishness in him as he has become eloquent in expressing his ideas --courtesy of his diligence and continuous learning process.
Going back to his childhood years, Isko remembers going about the big waste bins of McDonald's near his residence and rummaging for old food stuff like chicken bones and leftovers to be cooked for his poor family.
Movie reporter Morly Alino recalls seeing the child picking up spoiled food and bones to be washed and cooked again for their meals.
"Ay, we would sometimes meet each other between Tuazon and Kagitingan streets where Isko was always watchful of the McDonald's leftover garbage. Such an industrious and easy to get along fellow despite his youth," said Alino.
Veteran reporter-radio personality Tita Swarding also has nothing but good words for Isko.
"When Daddy Wowie wanted to hide Isko's extreme poverty, I advised him not to do that. I know the public will only love the youngster more if they know the truth about him since they will be able to identify themselves with a downtrodden being," said Tita Swarding. "I'm glad he took my words to heart."
How did Isko win against his heavyweight opponents in this year's vice mayoral race?
"I am a sincere man. I have no money. All I had was the people's trust and belief that I would do something good for the city when I make it to the top. I and my mayoral candidate, Danny Lacuna didn't have much financial or logistic resources except our clean records and the love of our constituents," he said.
He recalled going to campaign gatherings or house-to-house meetings and announcing, "Please lend me your votes in this election and I promise to serve you with my best effort if you give me the job."
"That's a promise I will deliver, I will not fail them who gave me a mandate," said the three-termer councilor who says he has always been active in serving barangays and the community as well.
He said that when he formally takes his seat at the City Hall with landslife winner, Mayor Fred Lim, everyone will be welcome to visit him and tell him their concerns.
Isko said not being a partymate of Mayor Lim is not a problem. "While he is from Pwersang Masa and I am from Kampi, I will fully cooperate with his rules and policies provided they are for the good of the majority."
"I am sure he will listen to what is right. Differences will only occur if he ignores what is true and what is correct". (PNA)