If TikTok views were votes, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno would be elected President based on his "Cha-Cha Slide" tribute to pandemic frontliners that got 22.2 million. The last two occupants of Malacanang got 16 million and 15 million.
But the 2022 elections is not on Moreno's mind, not during the COVID surge. Maybe September 2021 is a good time to decide, he said. For now, the 46-year-old leader of the capital city is reaching out to Gen Z on their favorite app with good vibes and no politics. Bad news goes to his Facebook page.
That's part of the strategy for the former teen idol who is now arguably the Philippines' most popular mayor, thanks to his crusade to save Manila from decay, even if it means stepping on human feces near city hall.
TikTok is an escape from quarantine, said the father to Gen Z kids during a nearly two-hour long Summit Sandwich Sessions. Instragram is for inspirational posts while Facebook is a journal of his day-to-day grind as mayor.
"I need an outlet. Kumbaga all of us deserve that kind of pang-exit mo, and I found TikTok very funny, very unique kasi I see my age bracket (there). 'Nagsasayaw ang mga lokong ito, okay ito ah!' And it's funny," he said.
"TikTok ko, chill-chill lang, tugs tugs tugs tugs lang. I always try to refrain from doing politics," he said.
Some hit videos, garnering millions of views, show Moreno lip-syncing to "Ikaw ang Aking Mahal" to his wife (no reaction), or looking for a duet partner as he does a lip sync videoke of "Muli." He also posted a video of himself eating a chicken drumstick "sa gedli" (gilid) and throwback clips with the "That's Entertainment Thursday Group Members."
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Idol Lee Kuan Yew
Moreno said looks up to Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, when it comes to governance, calling him a "great guy" who knew how to address his constituents' needs. It's a trait great leaders should emulate, he said.
"Ayan problema ng liderato. Kapag masyado ka nang hindi connected sa utaw, hindi ka na talaga makaka-relate so I think one of the asset of any leader for that matter, like Lee Kuan Yew, they continue to engage."
Added visibility on social media also encourages government officials to go beyond their job when they see their chief working beyond the usual 8-to-5.
"It generates a sense of responsibility or going beyond your 8-hour job especially now. This is not an 8-hour job anymore. It goes for anybody who works in the government."
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Moreno is statistically tied with three others for second place in the most recent presidential preferences survey by Pulse Asia, behind Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Caprio, who is the choice of roughly one in four Filipinos.
He leads the vice presidential rankings in the same poll.
If elected president, Moreno will be one of the youngest to assume office, the second to jump from city hall to Malacanang after incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, and the second actor to lead the country after former President Joseph Estrada.
"Oo naman, tatakbo definitely. That remains to be seen. Mayor ako, malamang mayor ako," he said on Summit Sandwich Sessions. He said he would rather focus on pandemic response.
"With all honesty, I will continue to decline to answer until it’s right time. I decline to answer anything politics. I don't think viewers would need politicking nowadays," he said.
"September is good month for everyone to decide," he said. The deadline for filing of candidacies for national positions is in October.