SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Olongapenos and Subic Bay volunteers gathered in this free port Tuesday (January 17) to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mayor James Leonard (Jimmy) Gordon, Olongapo's first elected mayor.
Simultaneous wreath-laying activities led by the children of the late mayor were held in four significant areas in Subic Bay and Olongapo City: Marikit Park, led by the Balikatan Ladies; Kalalake Elementary School; Gordon Park/Kalaklan; and Tappan Park, site of the hospital where Mayor Jimmy Gordon was born.
A program followed shortly at the Riviera wharf where the M/V Susitna, the newly acquired ship of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is docked.
Aside from the Gordon family led by PRC Governor and Senator Richard J Gordon, also attending the celebration were officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) led by Chairman Martin Diño and Administrator Amy Eisma, as well as free port investors.
Socio-civic groups such as the Jaycees of Olongapo City, Rotary Club of Olongapo City, James L. Gordon Council of the Olongapo City Boy Scout of the Philippines, BALIKATAN Ladies of Olongapo Movement, SUGPO, Businessmen/Civic groups participants; Philippine Red Cross Olongapo City Chapter Board, Staff and 143 volunteers; PRC Board of Governors; and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and officials and volunteers of the Bagumbayan Volunteers for a New Philippines Party also attended the celebration.
Mayor James 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.
Instead of electing American Citizenship and residing in the United States like his four brothers, he chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino Citizen. He raised his children as Filipino Citizens and brought them up according to Filipino values;
Mayor Jimmy Gordon, known as the Father of Olongapo, led the move to free Olongapo from the United States (US). 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 under US military rule. He was also like David trying to defeat Goliath, which symbolized the rampant corruption and abuses in the governing authority. (SNL)
The Gordons stand before a statue of their father, the late Mayor James Gordon, at the Tappan park inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)