"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ready for Anything

He has faced down natural and man-made disasters, political adversaries, kidnap-for-ransom rebels, and economic crises. Now Senator Richard J. Gordon is facing the biggest challenge of his life – running for President of the Philippines.

By Lynda C. Corpuz
Moneysense Magazine Cover Story

If there’s one thing the ferocious flood brought by typhoon Ondoy proved is we’re not ready. Our national government wasn’t ready. The local government units in the affected areas were overwhelmed. And we were caught flatfooted. In the midst of lost and confused government officials, a brief television interview with a familiar face during emergency and disaster rescue operations offered assurance that at least someone knows what he’s doing.

Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon enumerated and displayed to the panning camera the manpower, equipment, and vehicles under the disposal of Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), of which he is chairman and CEO. It wasn’t a political ploy as some critics snidely remarked – he has been a volunteer since he was 17, as his parents were also active in the Red Cross, and his mother founded the Blood Bank – just Dick Gordon once again to the rescue.

“Sino nauuna kapag may delubyo? Mas marami pa kaming rubber boat sa Red Cross kesa sa Philippine Navy. Ang navy natin, all coast, no guard. Sino unang tinatawagan nila? Ako. Bakit ako? Because I will care. No matter where you are, I will look for you and care for you,” Sen. Gordon impassionedly narrates.

Disaster preparedness is a must. Sen. Gordon says we shouldn’t be stupid not to know that we’re expecting at least 20 typhoons a year. Then he pulled out his whistle and demonstrated how to be saved when disaster strikes. “Pag-pito ng tatlong beses (then he whistles), whether you like it or not, evacuate ka na. Hindi na ako magpapadala ng rubber boat. Whether it’s an earthquake, fire, or typhoon, dapat handa ka. Alam mo kung saan ang pinakamalapit na evacuation center sa inyo, dapat may dala kang basic necessities mo. Kung bahain ang lugar, dapat magpagawa ka ng elevated na kalsada, na bahay. You should adapt to disasters,” Sen. Gordon stresses.

To disaster proof the Philippines that’s in the typhoon- and earthquake-belt, Sen. Gordon says we should have a culture of cleanliness – from clearing the drainages to relocating squatters. National management of agriculture is another, opting to have our agricultural lands in locations less hit by typhoons, like in most parts of Mindanao, or review the engineering involved in our agricultural bases, like Northern and Central Luzon.

No one questions his exemplary track record as a volunteer in disaster rescue operations (see sidebar “A Volunteer Forever”). No one also doubts him as an effective leader, crisis manager, and man of action.

Cleaning up Olongapo

Before becoming a senator, Sen. Gordon led his hometown, Olongapo City, where he served as mayor for 13 years. From the grand vision to the minute details, then Mayor Gordon introduced systems to steer away Olongapo from its image of “sin city” to “model city.”

Before color coding became a traffic rule in Metro Manila, Mayor Gordon had color-coded jeepneys, plying specific routes within the city. The drivers sported uniforms, bearing their names and contact details – a rule ensuring that in an untoward incident, passengers would know their driver’s name and where to find him. “Ang driver hindi na siya mahihingan ng pulis, kasi dati colorum siya. Sabi namin, lahat ng jeepney at tricycle may route-bearing capacity. I did this without a law. I had to motivate people [to agree with me],” he cites.

While his initiative was initially met with protest, then Mayor Gordon proved that the traffic system was beneficial. Regularizing the licensed jeepneys and tricycles per route ensured a steady income for the drivers and operators. If the driver overcharges, the passenger could look after the driver’s record filed at the city hall – with the latter’s photo and contact details. “The jeepney could no longer be used for crime. The license could no longer be used for corruption. Locals and tourists knew [already] which colored jeepney to ride [depending on their destination],” Sen. Gordon says over the benefits of his instituted system.

And his becoming a mayor with his own brand of leadership and management style was something he learned from his father, James L. Gordon – who chose to become a Filipino, and hailed as the founding father of Olongapo as its first elected municipal mayor. “My father’s assassin (assassinated on February 20, 1967) rode a jeep, got off, and rode a tricycle and escaped. Mabuti na lang may nakakita kung saan huminto `yung tricycle. Ngayon, hindi na makapupunta `yung tricycle sa kung saan hindi niya dapat puntahan. Mahuhuli siya. That’s how I learned to do it. I also learned it from the color-coded, route signages of trains in Japan,” he shares.

“The Americans, who a number of them got robbed, thanked me for the system. The curfew was lifted and the people of Olongapo were thankful,” Sen. Gordon shares the inspiration behind the orderly traffic system in his bailiwick. He also instituted system among hawkers, wearing uniforms and I.D. and cleaning the area where they’re posted. He also purchased second-hand trucks to ensure timely garbage collection and proper disposal, collected by uniformed “sanitary technicians.” He also spearheaded public markets’ expansion, community organizations, among other development programs. “I came from a town where my father was assassinated. Where there were robbers and troubles abound. Na-organize ko lahat. Naayos ko lahat `yun,” he prides.

Building the “second city”

His leadership and management style was also met initially with resistance. He can be very demanding and brutally frank, and most Filipinos, being generally non-confrontational, get taken aback. But Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon says if he doesn’t call your attention over a misdoing – “hindi ka na niya mahal `pag ganoon.”

He speaks plainly and doesn’t mince words. Basically with him, what you see is what you get. “Kung baga, kailangan natin gawin ito. You have to earn my respect. And I won’t let you forget it. Kapag kinagagalitan kita, mahal pa kita. `Pag hindi na kita kinakausap, wala ka na sa akin,” Sen. Gordon explains.

But the volunteers who Sen. Gordon mobilized to help rebuild Olongapo and Subic after the U.S. bases left in 1992 didn’t see him as abrasive. They only saw a passionate man who made Subic Bay as proof of economic progress.

Sen. Gordon asserted that he was helping Olongapo people to have a better picture of themselves. “I’m drawing a picture of who you are. You must be this way. You must think of yourself as somebody honorable and with dignity. My slogan, ‘Aim High Olongapo’ was realized. Bawal ang tamad sa Olongapo. Lalong bawal ang tanga sa Olongapo, alam nila `yan. I met with them. Hindi ko sila bine-baby. I told them, ‘if this doesn’t work, you can sue me or you don’t vote for me the next time,’” Sen. Gordon stresses. Talk about tough love.

“I helped built self-help, self-reliance among them. Bawal din ang palaasa sa gobyerno. We were taking care of ourselves. In my first speech, I told them that we would build a ‘second city,’ and that was Subic. [I envisioned] that since the bases would someday be gone and that happened. Twelve years later, I built that ‘second city,’ – Subic Bay,” Sen. Gordon introduces his ascent to become the founding chairman and administrator of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), a post he held from 1992 to 1998.

Sen. Gordon led a nationwide rally in September 1991 for the U.S. bases to be retained. He cites that the bill was filed in the Lower House by his wife, but it was not even discussed. That made Olongapo’s future in jeopardy as they were heavily relying on the U.S. naval base.

The cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 dumped not only wet ash on Olongapo, but also caused damage to their livelihood, properties, and morale. Despite such, the Philippine Senate voted 12-11 to reject the bases’ extension. “Marami kaming pinagdaanan ng mga taga-Olongapo. Maski noong inalis ako ni Cory (Aquino, following a government reorganization), pinaglaban nila ako. Lagi kong sinasama ang tao. We made Olongapo a city of rights and duties. I was the first mayor in the country helping other mayors. Nasanay ang tao. You have to practice citizenship,” he stresses.

“We put the Subic Freeport idea in the bill – wala `yun doon. When Subic was turned over to us, giba ang Olongapo. Nilinis namin `yun. Binalik namin sa normal ang Olongapo. We went through natural disasters and government corruption and [some men’s] selfishness. Pag-alis ng bases, kinaya namin. We attracted foreign investors. We built infrastructure. We created 100,000 jobs. We made the impossible,” Sen. Gordon illustrates how he and the Olongapo people bonded together in time of crises.

The transformation of Subic Bay earned the admiration and commendation of world leaders like U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad – along with the other leaders that attended the Asia Pacific Economic Conference held in Subic in 1996. “A slice of what they can be” is how Sen. Gordon sees the efforts he put in to make Olongapo and Subic Bay models to emulate.

WOW! Gordon

Sen. Gordon also has a knack for catchy slogans and is marketing savvy. Credit that partly to his first job as brand manager for Procter & Gamble. “That was an important job that could have given me a career in business. That was the best job in the world at that time. Mahirap makapasok doon. Sa klase namin, dalawa lang kaming nakapasok through our academic [record], leadership [potential], and personality. Walang lakaran. But I had to leave since my father was assassinated,” Sen. Gordon recalls.

That tragic event became the catalyst to his political career. Although he comes from a family of politicians (his mother, Amelia J. Gordon, is hailed as the first elected city mayor of Olongapo and the 2003 Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year honoree), he didn’t set out to be a politician.

After his mother won the elections, Sen. Gordon entered the University of the Philippines-Diliman to take up Law. “There were three attempts on my father’s life, I couldn’t understand why. Then he was assassinated. I went to law school to know bakit hindi ma-solve-solve ang kaso ng father ko. Kung sino ang mastermind,” he asked then.

After elected as the No. 1 student councilor, former President Ferdinand Marcos asked Sen. Gordon to run as Student Council chairman. The events at that time were leading to the First Quarter Storm. He refused Marcos’ offer. “I told Marcos, ‘don’t call me again.’ He was my brod (brother) in U.P. Upsilon Sigma Phi. He asked me why I didn’t want to run. I said, ‘I’m running for the Constitutional Convention (ConCon in 1971),” Sen. Gordon cites the third event that led him to the mayorship of Olongapo City.

Running for the ConCon was a challenge for Sen. Gordon – his father was only mayor for three years; his mother didn’t want him to run, as she wanted him to finish Law, not to mention that they were not in speaking terms since he eloped and got married to Kate (the 1998 UNESCO Mayors for Peace Prize honoree in Asia, three-term Olongapo City Mayor, and Zambales Representative from 1987 to 1995).

Despite that, he pushed forward. “I said [to those asking why I was running considering my age and inexperience], ‘kung bibili kayo ng kalabaw, ano pipiliin ninyo, bata o matanda?’ Simple lang. Magaling ako magsalita, that’s why I went out and spoke to the public through the theaters owned by my mother and mother-in-law. We got three comedians to attract crowd. `Pag naparami na nila, saka ako pupunta at magsasalita. Hahabulin ko `yan from barrio to barrio to speak. I won, the No.1, and the youngest delegate to the ConCon,” Sen. Gordon prides of his first, major political achievement.

He says he ran for the ConCon because he wanted to change the country, and says his inspiration for this was Wenceslao Vinzons – the youngest delegate and signer of the 1935 Constitution. That was why he also joined Upsilon because of Vinzons, not because of Marcos or Ninoy (Aquino, Jr.), his fellow Upsilonians. “Like my father, Vinzons had a vision. Like Vinzons, I told myself, ‘I’ll be the youngest delegate to the ConCon. I’ll make my father proud of me,” Sen. Gordon cites, and adds that one of his most precious possessions is his picture of him, administering the Oath of Office to Diosdado Macapagal as president of ConCon. “Whenever I take my oath, I’m taking my oath to the youth of the land so they would have a better future,” Sen. Gordon cites.

He has certainly come a long way from being a wunderkind to a highly accomplished public servant. After his stint at the SBMA, unceremoniously kicked out by then President Joseph Estrada with whom he had a political rift, he came back as tourism secretary appointed in 2001 and served until 2004, before being elected as a senator. He enjoyed a high-profile and successful job as tourism secretary, having launched the highly successful WOW! Philippines campaign. He rebuilt Intramuros and made it a world-city of museums, with themed fiestas showcasing the products and specialties of the country. He didn’t only put back the Philippines in the tourism belt, but Sen. Gordon says he also created jobs in the hospitality and allied sectors.

“Do you hear [those things I did?] No, you don’t. Even if I say them, sasabihin, hindi mananalo `yan [Gordon] kasi wala siyang pera. That’s where their mistake lies. And their ignorance,” Sen. Gordon points out.

Running for President

His frustration over the press is understandable. He is already being counted out when he hasn’t even officially announced that he’s running. As of this writing, he has not officially declared his bid for the 2010 presidential race. Sen. Gordon says he keeps it as a “surprise” as his ace. “I don’t participate in surveys. SWS put my name in violation of my rights because I have my name. For this year, I never allowed to put my name in it. If it put in P321 million in four to five months; P100 million allotted for the surveys, I would top them. If I start advertising, I would rate. You’re right, I don’t rate even with my record – I don’t rate because I don’t fool the people. `Yung naipon kong kaunti, para sa pamilya ko `yan, hindi para sa pulitika `yan,” Sen. Gordon stresses.

He doesn’t kowtow to the masses, doesn’t pander to oligarchs, and doesn’t kiss butts. All he can offer is his record. He laments that candidates with nothing much to show in terms of performance are being hailed as the most winnable ones. He, on the other hand, has already done much, much more. “Nagawa ko na lahat `yan. Kung wala akong chance, kung wala akong pera, eh `di lalo na `yung mahihirap. Pupunta na lang sila abroad. It’s only the crooked politicians who are making money. Did I let my people leave Olongapo? I found a future for them.”

Sen. Gordon is also very specific as to what should be done for this country. He believes the key to transforming the Philippines is education. He envisions giving Filipino school children a very good teacher, feeding them, and providing access to good facilities. In fact, he already has a plan: generate a form of tax from text (SMS and MMS) messaging. “Stick to the vision. Set aside 10 centavos out of every text messages. And if there are two million text messages sent a day, that’s P73 billion a year. Right away, you can pay all the teachers. But build schools first. Create a corporation for a Health, Education, and Acceleration Program for this purpose. Also assign a doctor rotating around the schools so the kids can have access to health care,” Sen. Gordon explains.

Indeed, he is the man with the plan and a man of action. “You can demand from me,” he asserts. Yes, he banks on his record, and if he appears to have to remind people about it, Sen. Gordon only shows that he has got what it takes to lead this country. “I never run away from a fight. Never. What I’m offering is an experience of a lifetime,” he ends.

Photography by Carl Valentin

Hair and make-up styling by Chastine Isidro Fitcher (of Essensuals Toni&Guy)

Cover and editorial shoot and interview coordinated by Edlen Vanezza Bayaton


Anonymous ligayang sapat said...

I'm definitely voting for you! How can I help in the campaign?

11:47 PM

Blogger Liza said...

Same here. Where is your headquarters in QC? Thanks.

6:17 AM

Anonymous alfred said...

@Liza and Ligayang sapat... :D

you can volunteer for Team Gordon-Bayani 2010.

email us at info@bagumbayan-vnp.com for us to send you the volunteer forms.


8:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go for Gordon-Bayani! i really believe in them. they are the hopes of Philippines - men of actions.

6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can i ask for posters for my car and my house. tnx

6:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can i get your campaign materials in makati ? hope you have time to reply. thank you

3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please check your email address .....

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at yahoo.com.
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

: does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 5.7.1 : Recipient address rejected: Invalid user
Giving up on

4:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah lahat yan naranasan namin sa olongapo kasama namin sya (mayor gordon) sa hirap at ginhawa...

10:38 PM

Blogger Jessica Gaynor said...

Very good site you have created. I enjoyed reading this post about Property Gordons Bay.

7:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Gordon you are my man and my President~ you are one of the few leaders in this country who knows exactly how NOT to poor the people, buy the people and fool the people.

Pls. continue EMPOWERING the Filipinos, do not get tired let's continue the fight there is always a ray of hope for this country with you around.

God Bless You!

11:36 PM

Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 10.26
nike outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, gucci handbags, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, replica watches, polo outlet, burberry handbags, christian louboutin shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, oakley sunglasses, uggs outlet, christian louboutin, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, ray ban sunglasses, jordan shoes, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, nike air max, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, uggs on sale, burberry outlet, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, christian louboutin uk, kate spade outlet, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany and co, replica watches, nike air max, longchamp outlet, uggs outlet, longchamp outlet, tiffany jewelry, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, prada handbags, michael kors outlet store, ray ban sunglasses

7:40 PM

Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

sac vanessa bruno, louboutin pas cher, new balance, hollister uk, coach outlet store online, longchamp pas cher, nike tn, nike air max uk, north face, true religion outlet, lululemon canada, michael kors outlet, true religion outlet, coach purses, abercrombie and fitch uk, sac longchamp pas cher, polo ralph lauren, ray ban uk, vans pas cher, nike free run, air max, michael kors, north face uk, hollister pas cher, oakley pas cher, converse pas cher, nike free uk, nike air force, true religion outlet, coach outlet, jordan pas cher, sac hermes, guess pas cher, nike roshe, polo lacoste, nike roshe run uk, michael kors pas cher, ray ban pas cher, nike air max uk, kate spade, burberry pas cher, nike air max, nike blazer pas cher, ralph lauren uk, coach outlet, michael kors, hogan outlet, mulberry uk, timberland pas cher, true religion jeans

7:43 PM

Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

mac cosmetics, gucci, hollister, herve leger, babyliss, hermes belt, soccer jerseys, nike trainers uk, celine handbags, vans, abercrombie and fitch, jimmy choo outlet, giuseppe zanotti outlet, nike air max, ferragamo shoes, lululemon, ray ban, ralph lauren, iphone 6 cases, converse outlet, asics running shoes, ghd hair, north face outlet, valentino shoes, timberland boots, insanity workout, nike air max, north face outlet, nfl jerseys, chi flat iron, hollister, vans outlet, beats by dre, soccer shoes, longchamp uk, p90x workout, louboutin, oakley, mont blanc pens, mcm handbags, converse, reebok outlet, hollister clothing, baseball bats, wedding dresses, nike roshe run, bottega veneta, new balance shoes, nike huaraches, instyler, tory burch outlet, oakley sunglasses

7:46 PM

Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

louis vuitton, thomas sabo, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, swarovski crystal, canada goose outlet, juicy couture outlet, barbour, louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, hollister, marc jacobs, barbour uk, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, canada goose outlet, supra shoes, canada goose, canada goose outlet, moncler uk, michael kors outlet online, toms shoes, wedding dresses, pandora jewelry, ugg pas cher, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, swarovski, doudoune moncler, moncler, pandora uk, moncler, moncler, juicy couture outlet, michael kors handbags, replica watches, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg uk, pandora charms, louis vuitton, montre pas cher, moncler outlet, moncler, lancel, canada goose, ugg, doke gabbana, links of london, canada goose, karen millen uk, canada goose uk, coach outlet
ninest123 10.26

7:49 PM

Blogger 艾丰 said...

ugg boots
snow boots outlet
beats by dr dre
ralph lauren polo shirts
ugg outlet
marc jacobs outlet
hermes bags
baltimore ravens
coach outlet store online,coach outlet store,coach outlet
new orleans saints
nike roshe run
coach outlet store
michael kors handbags
uggs outlet
nike running shoes
michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet,michael kors outlet online,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors
michael kors outlet online
cheap jordans
ugg boots on sale
michael kors wallets for women
ugg boots clearance
hollister pas cher
michael kors factory store,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors
nfl jerseys wholesale
coach outlet online,coach purses,coach handbags,coach bags,coach handbags sale,coach handbags outlet
ugg outlet
north face jackets
kobe 9 elite
ed hardy outlet
louis vuitton outlet store
louboutin uk
pandora outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses

11:56 PM

Blogger 柯云 said...

chanel bags
ugg boots sale
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ugg boots outlet
air max 90
nike running shoes for men
uggs boots for women
uggs on sale
ugg boots
hollister kids
ray-ban sunglasses
hollister jeans
air force 1 trainers
true religion jeans outlet
louis vuitton outlet
michaek kors outlet
cheap uggs sale
ugg boots outlet
jordan 11s
louis vuitton handbags
coach outlet
jordan 11 concord
gucci outlet
nike huarache white
ray ban outlet
coach outlet online
tory burch outlet
ugg outlet store
uggs for chea
cheap ray ban sunglasses
canada goose
oakley store
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet
abercrombie & fitch
coach outlet
toms outlet
ray bans
fitflop clearance

6:13 PM

Blogger 1111141414 said...

michael kors outlet
pandora charms
pandora uk
adidas yeezy
light up shoes
ferragamo belt
kobe 9
adidas gazelle
longchamp bags
adidas tubular x

10:40 PM

Anonymous Cara Mengobati Cacingan pada Anak said...

It is great to have visited your website. Thanks for sharing useful information. And also visit my website about health. God willing it will be useful too

Pengobatan Scabies secara Alami
Cara Menghilangkan Bekas luka
Khasiat dan manfaat QnC Jelly Gamat
Obat Penghilang Jerawat dan Bekasnya
Cara Menyembuhkan Batuk Berkepanjangan
Obat Benjolan di Belakang Telinga
Cara Cepat Mengobati Amandel

6:07 PM

Blogger ninest123 said...

ralph lauren outlet
coach outlet online
givenchy handbags
nike outlet
supreme clothing
johnston and murphy outlet
air max 97
adidas originals
jordan retro 11

10:42 PM

Blogger Zz Zz said...

gucci outlet online
air max 1
givenchy handbags
cheap jordan shoes
pandora jewelry outlet
canada goose jacket
pandora charms outlet
adidas yeezy boost
salvatore ferragamo outlet
mlb jerseys cheap

11:48 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home