Press Release
January 20, 2017


Senator Richard J. Gordon called on Olongapenos to continue the fight for Olongapo and Subic Bay Freeport Zone's (SBFZ) development started by his late father, the first elected mayor of Olongapo James Leonard Tagle Gordon, and which he continued when he also became mayor.

Speaking during the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of late Mayor James Leonard Tagle Gordon, the senator pointed the latter's lifelong dedication to the upliftment of his fellowman, creating a town and creating a city in the process.

"Papa was the most courageous man that I've known. He fought giant political bossism, fought for Olongapo's electrification, among others. Kapag tiningnan mo ang kasaysayan ng Olongapo - ginawang independent town, ginawang siyudad. The last town to get its independence from the United States, the first to become a highly-urbanized city in Central Luzon, the first Freeport city. Pinaghirapan natin yun. Sabi nga niya, 'Nothing good is easy to get, the best way is always the hard way'.

Gordon lamented that the people of Olongapo appear to have lost their vigor to continue the fight, silently watching the deterioration of the Freeport and the City deteriorate, with the airport gone, and Olongapo's cultural and historical buildings torn down.

"Subic was the first Freeport city. Ginawa kong Freeport ang ibang probinsya gaya ng Mariveles, Clark, La Union, pati John Hay. Kumita na ang Mariveles, marami ng trabaho doon. When you look at it, dapat sumama ang loob niyo pag hindi kayo sumabay. Binalik tayo sa Olongapo, kasama ang tao, inayos natin ang Olongapo. Ginawa natin ang Subic, pinaalis ang base. Ginawa natin ang Subic pina-alis tayo. Ngayon bagsak, itatayo pa natin. Nawala ang airport pati mga cultural at historical buildings natin, but you kept quiet. Akalain mo nawala lahat ng pinaghirapan namin, it took us 29 weeks to fix the airport. Masama dapat ang loob ko," he said.

Gordon, nevertheless, has not given up, expressing hope that the people will wake up from their apathy.

"Pero hindi pa ako sumusuko, baka may pag-asa pa kayo. Meron ba, kaya ba ninyo? Because I want to be able to look you in the eye and say kasama ko kayo talaga sa pagpa-ahon ng ating bayan. Nawala ang FedEx nung nawala na tayo sa SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority). Ang sabi ko, next time. And that next time has arrived. We have a new set of SBMA officials and I promise you that we will work very hard to restore the glory of Subic Bay," he vowed.

Gordon also stressed that for change to be effective, a leader must involve the people in the process of change.

"Leaders like me, my father, any leader, even Digong (President Rodrigo Duterte) cannot enforce change without making people part of the process of change," he said.

Mayor James "Jimmy" Gordon was born on January 17, 1917 of an American father, John Jacob Gordon, and a Filipina mother, Veronica Tagle Gordon. He was Mayor of Olongapo City from December 30, 1963 to February 20, 1967.

He chose to be a Filipino and stay in the Philippines instead of electing American Citizenship and residing in the United States like his four brothers. He raised his children as Filipino Citizens and brought them up according to Filipino values.

Known as the Father of Olongapo, Mayor Jimmy Gordon, led the move to free Olongapo from the United States. When the rest of the Philippine had been declared independent of the US on July 4, 1946, Olongapo remained under US Government jurisdiction having been declared a US Naval Reservation in the early 1900s.

Gordon, though an American himself, having an American father, could not stomach the strict military regulations that limited the movements of the residents of Olongapo. He exposed and fought the abuses and harassments suffered by Olongapo residents while under US military jurisdiction. He was like David trying to defeat Goliath as symbolized by the rampant corruption and abuses in the governing authority.

As an untiring fighter of graft and corruption, he fought well-entrenched politicians. He won the case, albeit posthumously, that returned the electrical system to the then Municipal Government of Olongapo. He exposed the anomalies that bedeviled the new municipal government. Understandably, his crusade earned him enemies who tried all types of harassment, including threats of suspension, hand grenade attacks and planned ambushes. Three cowardly attempts on his life, involving grenades and arson, were made by prisoners allowed to escape by then high-ranking government officials.

A fourth and final attempt was made on February 20, 1967. While talking with a constituent on the first floor of City Hall, Mayor Jimmy Gordon was gunned down by an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary bringing inconsolable loss to his family and to the people of Olongapo.

He served only for three years as Mayor but his whole life was dedicated to quelling crime, specifically illegal logging, and smuggling of firearms, cigarettes and contraband from the US NAVAL base. He is specially remembered for his fight to block the unconscionable attempt to transfer the public utilities of Olongapo, inherited from the Americans, for a paltry amount, and for removing a murderous police chief, as part of his crusade against corrupt members of the then Philippine Constabulary.

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