43rd death anniversary of Mayor James Gordon marked on Feb. 20
Mayor Gordon then just 50-was shot by an assassin as he stepped into Olongapo's City Hall on Feb. 20, 1967, and died a few hours later aboard a US Navy hospital ship in Subic Bay. While four men were arrested and imprisoned for the mayor's murder, the mastermind was never identified and prosecuted. The gunman, Nenito Alincastre, had just been released from Muntinlupa and was known to be protected by political and criminal syndicates in Olongapo whom the crusading mayor had fought against. It was the fourth attempt on Gordon's life.
The young Richard, then a fresh college graduate, had left Olongapo that morning for his new job in Manila, little knowing that his father's kiss that morning would be his last. As soon as he learned about the shooting, he sped back to Olongapo, but it was too late to catch his father alive.
Mayor Gordon's death was a traumatic moment for Dick, but it would also transform him into a man driven by a lifelong quest for justice. Because of the unsolved murder, Dick became a lawyer.
Following in the footsteps of his father and his mother Amelia-herself a formidable civic leader-Dick entered public service, becoming the youngest delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, mayor of Olongapo, the founding spirit and chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Secretary of Tourism, and Senator of the Republic. Dick also followed Amelia into the Red Cross, which he would serve for more than 40 years, and whose board he now chairs.
Although his father was an American soldier from New York and while he could have opted for American citizenship, James Gordon was every inch a Filipino, and fought hard for the dignity and progress of his fellow Filipinos. His mother, Veronica Tagle, was the daughter of a hero of the Philippine Revolution against Spain-Col. Jose Tagle of Imus, Cavite, whose forces routed those of Gen. Aguirre on Sept. 3, 1986, helping to turn the tide of the revolution.
In his own quest to serve his people in high office, Sen. Gordon says that it is the example of these two family heroes-as well as that of his mother, who died November 17-that sustains his hope and faith. "I will continue to fight for justice, not just for my father and my family, but for all Filipinos who have suffered too long at the hands of the powerful and the corrupt," Gordon declared on the eve of Mayor Gordon's death anniversary.