Press Release
February 26, 2018

Bill declaring January 17 as James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day okayed

The Senate adopted today a joint resolution declaring every January 17 as James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day, a non-working holiday in Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in recognition of the achievement and contributions of James Leonard Tagle Gordon.

Senate Joint Resolution 6 was adopted with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention. The resolution was introduced by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and sponsored by Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara. Gordon is the father of Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon.

Like a bill, a joint resolution requires the approval of both houses and the signature of the President. It has the force and effect of a law if approved by the President.

According to the resolution, Gordon was born an American on January 17, 1917 but chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen when his family chose to return 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 during the Philippine revolution. Tagle was appointed Imus mayor by President Emilio Aguinaldo for his pivotal role in the battle against the Spaniards.

Gordon was an entrepreneur and businessman when Olongapo was still a reservation under the American control. He was one of the organizers of the Olongapo Civic Action Group that worked on the general improvements of the city, the resolution said.

Gordon 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, the resolution added.

The resolution described Gordon as a patriot who led the move to make Olongapo free from the US rule. Despite being half American, Gordon exposed the abuses and harassment suffered by Olongapo residents under the US military rule. In fact, the resolution said, Gordon was "part of the Philippine panel that negotiated and compelled the US authorities to relinquish Olongapo to the Philippine government." 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, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4645 converting Olongapo into a chartered city, the resolution said.

"An untiring fighter of graft and corruption, Gordon fought well-entrenched politicians against widespread corruption. He opposed anomalous transactions of newly appointed officials when they tried to lease out the electrical utility for only P5,000 a month. He fought against rampant illegal logging, cigarettes smuggling and proliferation of land disputes," the resolution said.

Gordon was gunned down on the first floor of Olongapo City hall by an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary on February 20, 1967, the resolution said.

"For his invaluable service to uplift the lives of the people of Olongapo through his exemplary leadership providing hope and inspiration to future generations, Mayor James Leonard Tagle Gordon deserved to be commemorated on his birth centenary," the resolution said. (PM)

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