Pen Strokes

May 7, 2010

Jay Gatchalian’s “The REAL Dick Gordon”

Last May 1, I read a commentary in the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled, “People call me Dick” by Patricia Evangelista. In her commentary, Patricia said the she “won’t vote for Richard Gordon because he is Richard Gordon.”  Frankly, I find this statement – along with her entire article – more subjective than objective.

I wanted to write a response to Patricia’s commentary, but I couldn’t find the time. Then, just a few hours ago, I came across a “note” on Facebook from a certain Jay Gatchalian responding to Patricia Evangelista’s commentary.

At first, I thought that it would just be a bitter response by a Gordon supporter to the commentary; but as I read through the “Facebook note,” I actually found it very inspiring. So, I asked permission from Mr. Gatchalian if I could re-publish his note in this blog, and he agreed. This is a “must read” folks!

Jay, thanks for letting me re-publish your message…

The REAL Dick Gordon – A response to Patricia Evangelista’s “People call me Dick” – by Jay Gatchalian

Richard "Dick" Gordon

Patricia Evangelista spoke her mind and revealed her personal dislike for Dick Gordon. She’s entitled to voice her opinion. Dick Gordon is not her cup of tea. That’s fine, it’s a free universe. I’m sure there are people who share her disdain for the Man Who Would be President. You are entitled to your thoughts.

Now let me share mine. First, for the sake of public disclosure, let me say that I was a former volunteer and assistant to Senator Gordon during his days at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). I first met him as a college student at a presentation at the George Washington University in Washington DC back in 1997. I was curious to see what he and his team created in Subic and Olongapo. He asked me if I wanted to help my country and I said yes. Good! he said, come out to Subic, volunteer and we’ll get to work. That being said let me share my thoughts and impressions of my former boss and his persona/temperament to lead a country of millions of Filipinos.

Ms. Evangelista has a problem with Dick Gordon being Dick Gordon. Is Gordon an Asshole? Absolutely NOT. Would millions of people vote for him as Senator or Mayor if he was? Would 8,000 ordinary people volunteer their time to maintain and protect Subic if he was? I don’t think so. People believe in Richard Gordon because he tells it like it is and he gets the job done. He is in your face and devil may care, because honestly he’s got nothing to lose. He can back up his accomplishments by saying that he motivated and inspired his people to be the best they can be and they, in turn, worked harder and faster for his projects. That runs counter to the typical Filipino behavior of “let’s just do that later” or “it’s too hard to do that, let’s not even try it.”

As a former assistant to Gordon, he was a tough SOB to work for. You’d work long hours, get yelled at sometimes when issues arose, but he pushed you hard because he wanted you to do your job right. Here’s an example of what I mean. As a 21 year old volunteer from the US, there wasn’t much time to sit down and learn, everything was on the job training. On my first day as an executive assistant, we had a presentation in front of a mid-wives convention. Of course everything that could go wrong did. Gordon ran late, the prepared speech was bad, the slideshow presentation was off and the show and tell portion of the program failed. It felt like absolute disaster! But Gordon, like any good performer, pulled it out of the fire. He got his message across and amazed the audience with what Filipinos can accomplish at Subic at the time. After the speech, Gordon asked me to get in the van to get to the next venue. Was he pissed at the poor preparation and execution? Absolutely, I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t take things for granted and you have to make sure everything was in place. That night, after his last public appearance, he sat me down and we talked about our day. He said go get a drink and let’s figure out where things got messed up. He said in this business, we can’t afford to mess up. We have to get our act together. I need you to step up and be a leader. It took me by surprise. I thought I was fired after that morning. I got yelled at pretty hard, but he said take this shitty day as a lesson learned. Mistakes will get made, but it’s your job to think ahead, anticipate these issues and fix the problem. That’s what I learned from Dick Gordon. He’s tough but fair as any father would be looking after his kids I could have easily walked away from that experience and gone home, but I listened to what Gordon had say and I took it upon myself to fix the problem. It takes a little bit of time to get used to his style and methods, but once you figure it out it all works out. My short time in Subic was one of the greatest times in my life. I learned that nothing is impossible and that you accomplish anything when you persevere. I saw an example of what the Philippines can be: assertive, confident, world class, disciplined and ready for all challenges. Only a partnership of good leadership, vision and talented citizens could make it successful. That’s what Dick Gordon can do for the rest of the country.

For him it’s not about ego, popularity or being the smartest kid in the room. He doesn’t have all the answers and he’s not perfect. He freely admits that. But the confidence he displays isn’t lack of humility but an example to Filipinos that they need to step up, grow up, and take charge of their lives. Toughen up there son, it’s a rough world out there. There’s no room for timidity for Filipinos, audacity and ambition is required to move the country forward.

Dick Gordon could have easily walked away from government and gotten rich working for a big company. But that’s not part of his persona; he goes where he is needed. Money is not important to him, improving the lives of all Filipinos is. The nation needs his leadership and experience. It needs him to continue to stand up to the elites and the corrupt without reservation or doubt. Gordon is fearless and will not compromise his convictions for money or power. The Philippines is in crisis, we need a crisis manager, not an economist or a real estate developer. He has seen firsthand what leadership and people can do together. He has proven that in all aspects of his life in public service. Hate him or not, you have to admit he gets the job done. Gordon uplifts and inspires Filipinos to greater heights by not giving them handouts, but rather showing them the way to discipline, order and cultural transformation.

Patricia and other detractors only see the Dick Gordon on camera. Gruff or crude, that’s the persona you believe him to be. That’s totally way off. You see him as a dick, rude or insensitive to those questioning him. I’ll admit he’s had gaffs where he takes things a bit too far. In the grand scheme of things, is that the most important thing about Dick Gordon you care about. Sorry if he hurt your feelings or wasn’t politically correct. But If he creates jobs, improves the economy and education of your kids, will you remember what he said on TV? At least he’s honest enough to speak his mind, as compared to those in Yellow, Orange or Green who promise you the world but haven’t really done anything.

In the case of the NU107 interview, I saw the live feed online, the host dished out issue after issue and Gordon responded accordingly and honestly. No spin or bullshit. He joked around with the people in that studio as friendly radio banter would go. But when you call a Senator chickenshit on live radio, just who crossed the line there? Gordon dished it right back to Romulo right? Friendly banter right? Maybe Gordon shouldn’t have said he’s a nobody. Romulo is after all an UNO editor, RockEd member and Free Press publisher. I don’t know Erwin Romulo, I’m sure he’s a good guy, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t accomplished much to help his countrymen compared to what Dick Gordon has done for the Filipino people over the years.

People ignore the side of Dick Gordon who is passionate and genuinely cares for the well being of his fellow Filipino. If there’s a fire, typhoon, earthquake, volcanic eruption, or boat sinking, Dick Gordon is running towards it not away from it. He is there to help and save lives, not score brownie points or kiss ass. What matters to him is that those people survive and they have a future after their tragedy. He’s out there as a matter of public service and duty to the Filipino people. Why is he out there? Because he has the knowledge and experience born from hundreds of disasters all over the country. The question should be why aren’t more Filipinos out there saving lives and making a difference.

Gordon speaks his mind and what he believes in. He’s there to convince you that he’s the best choice for President. After all there is an election in 7 days. If “you people” in the media (tv, radio, press) would be slightly un-biased and treat all candidates fairly with equal coverage, maybe then he wouldn’t have to rant so much. I guess coverage of Baby James saying Villar at a rally makes headline news versus having a real debate between candidates on ANC.

Let’s be frank. There really is a failure of intelligence in the Philippines. We wouldn’t be in such deep shit as a nation if people voted the right candidates into public office. The cycle of poor decisions never ends. Filipinos want to be charmed & courted like a telenovela princess. They should stop the drama and smell the poverty and corruption outside their windows. Gordon doesn’t play those games, he tells like it is. Sorry to those with thin skin. The truth does hurt sometimes. Explaining the differences between each candidate’s records is simply voter education. If the Cojuangcos and Aquinos actually improved the lives of the people in Tarlac or the Philippines as a whole we would have seen tangible results. As of right now, I don’t see any improvements. So where are the lies? Generations of Cojuangcos and Aquinos have lead the Philippines in one capacity or another, yet nothing has changed in this country. I don’t see Noynoy or Gibo changing the status quo.

Listen, you don’t have to like Dick Gordon. But don’t just judge a book by its cover. Sit down with the man and have a real conversation with him. Don’t just go by what the media tells you. Listen to him speak. Talk to him one on one. See him for what he really is…a Filipino who loves his country and is willing to sacrifice in order assist those less fortunate than he. He is tough but fair. He’s not a dictator or a tyrant. No one would follow him if he was. Yet there are millions of Filipinos who believe in Dick Gordon. He does inspire those around him contrary to what you might have heard. Ask those people he has saved from natural disasters, kidnappings, and tragedies. Ask them if their lives are better because of Dick Gordon. Ask those people who have work because he dared to create the Subic Bay Freeport. Asked the people of Olongapo if their security and their lives are better because Dick Gordon chose to lead and be an innovative Mayor. Ask the tourism industry if the WoW Philippines was an award winning campaign and that it created real jobs in this country. Now ask yourselves who’s being the bigger Dick by choosing to focus on so called character flaws and misguided views and not on those so called survey leading candidates who have done very little to change the lives of the Filipino people.

I choose to have effective leadership running the Philippines with Dick Gordon’s honest talk and behavior rather than being subjected to continuous lies from smooth talking politicians who haven’t done anything substantial except have a famous last name or money in the bank.

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1 Comment »

  1. Well said. He is more than qualified to lead our country.

    Comment by Joe — May 10, 2010 @ 8:46 pm | Reply


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