RICHARD “DICK” GORDON: AN INTRODUCTION
Richard “Dick” Gordon has been committed to serving the public his whole adult life. His journey began with his election as the youngest delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention where he pushed for the inclusion of an article on the Duties and Obligations of Citizens, even while still a student at UP College of Law. Thus, at the start of his public career, already central to his philosophy is that the relationship of the citizen to the state is defined not simply by his rights, but equally by his obligations.
In the wake of the assassination of his father, he was elected as Mayor of Olongapo City, and transformed what was then known as the Sin City into a Model City, defined by its cleanliness, and the discipline of its residents. In the face of dramatic unemployment in his city with the removal of the US Naval Base at neighboring Subic, he pushed for the creation of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and became its founding Chairman, transforming it into the most successful base conversion recognized by international media, generating over 200,000 jobs on the back of over USD 3 billion in investments.
When Dick Gordon was appointed as Tourism Secretary, he placed the Philippines on the world tourism map with his famous WOW Philippines program. The country’s tourism industry thrived under his watch, even without a big budget, without having to copy other countries’ tourism slogans, and even as others in the region reeled from crisis after crisis – 9/11, the SARS epidemic and the Bali bombing, pump-priming what has now been a decade and a half of virtually uninterrupted tourism growth.
When he won a seat in the Senate, Dick Gordon turned his extensive executive experience into shaping national policy. He authored major laws, a number of which aimed to dramatically transform the political and economic landscape of the country – the Automated Election Law, the Tourism Act, and the creation of economic zones such as the Poro Point Freeport in La Union, the Freeport Area of Bataan in Mariveles, and Camp John Hay in Baguio, all to jumpstart investment and development. Others dealt with longstanding problems such as Veterans Benefits, the Free Patent Law and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Law. As Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, he investigated the 2004 P728-Million Fertilizer Fund Scam and the assailed ZTE National Broadband Contract, demanding accountability. In the recent 2016 national elections, he was overwhelmingly re-elected and placed 5th in the Senatorial Elections.
When we think of the Philippine Red Cross, we think as well of its Chairman and CEO, who transformed the organization into the foremost humanitarian organization in the country. Whenever any part of the country is hit by all kinds of disasters, the Philippine Red Cross, with Dick Gordon at the helm, is there to provide various forms of assistance. The Philippine Red Cross is recognized as one of the strongest Red Cross societies in the world, leading to Dick Gordon’s election to the governing board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Dick Gordon’s work is well known to many of us. His effectiveness as a leader and a mover of people has been recognized and heralded through the various awards he has received – Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM), the Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL), the University of the Philippines’ Most Outstanding Alumnus in Public Service, and three years later, its Most Distinguished Alumnus, the highest award that could be bestowed by the UP Law Alumni Association. More recently, Dick Gordon was also awarded the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency’s Lifetime National Volunteer Achievement Award, the sole recipient of the award in 2015. Gordon’s achievements in the 48 years that he has been active in the Philippine Red Cross has also been recognized, having been awarded the three highest awards from the Red Cross, namely the Aurora Aragon Quezon Medal, the Silver Humanitarian Service Cross Award and the Gold Humanitarian Service Cross Award. Dick Gordon was also a recipient of the Japanese Red Cross Gold Humanitarian Award. He also received recognition from various foreign media such as Asiaweek’s Twenty Great Asians of the Future and Asahi Shimbun’s 50 Young Leaders of Asia, among others.
Finally, he is a lawyer by profession, but has also been, at various times, a broadcaster, a businessman, a lecturer, and an inspirational speaker. He graduated from the UP College of Law, and holds a bachelors degree in history and government from Ateneo de Manila University.