Senator Sonny Angara lauded the Senate’s approval on third and final reading of a bill declaring January 17 as “James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day,” a special non-working holiday in Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to commemorate the life and contributions of the city’s first elected mayor.
Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said the measure was in recognition of Gordon’s invaluable service to uplift the lives of the people of Olongapo City through his exemplary leadership.
“The measure was in recognition of Gordon’s invaluable service to uplift the lives of the people of Olongapo City through his exemplary leadership.
“This would allow Olongapo City residents to honor on his birth anniversary their first elected mayor, whose exemplary leadership continues to provide hope and inspiration not only to the people of the city, but to all Filipinos,” the seasoned legislator said.
Last year, the Senate adopted a joint Congressional resolution declaring every January 17 as James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day in commemoration of his 101st birth anniversary. The resolution was introduced by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and sponsored by Angara.
Gordon, the father of Senator Dick Gordon, was born an American on January 17, 1917 but chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen when his family returned to the United States. He was the son of John Jacob Gordon and Veronica Tagle, a daughter of Filipino patriot Jose Tagle, hero of the Battle of Imus in Cavite province during the Philippine Revolution.
Gordon was an entrepreneur and businessman when Olongapo was still a reservation under American control. He was one of the organizers of the Olongapo Civic Action Group that worked on the general improvements of the city.
He was one of the founders of the Olongapo Rotary Club, Olongapo Knights of Columbus and the Olongapo Businessmen’s Association. He and his wife, Amelia Juico Gordon, and some friends established the Olongapo Boys Town and Girls Home in 1969, an orphanage for abandoned children of Filipino-American parents.
According to the joint resolution, Gordon was a patriot who led the move to make Olongapo free from U.S. rule. Despite being half American, Gordon exposed the abuses and harassment suffered by Olongapo residents under the U.S. military rule.
“Gordon was a patriot who led the move to make Olongapo free from the U.S. rule.”
In fact, Gordon was “part of the Philippine panel that negotiated and compelled the U.S. authorities to relinquish Olongapo to the Philippine government,” the resolution read.
Olongapo was turned over to the Philippine government on December 7, 1959, the same day President Carlos P. Garcia signed the executive order making it a municipality of Zambales.
Elected mayor of Olongapo in 1963, Gordon lobbied in Congress for the passage of a bill to convert the municipality into a city. In 1966, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Republic Act 4645 converting Olongapo into a chartered city.
Gordon was gunned down on the first floor of the Olongapo City Hall by an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary on February 20, 1967.