If anyone seems to be having the most fun out of campaigning for the presidency, it looks to me like Dick Gordon.
Just check out his video with the comedy duo Moymoy Palaboy which has gone viral. This is not the demeanor of a man lagging far behind in the polls. He looks and sounds like a winner.
The irrepressible Gordon is nothing if not audacious. After failing to keep the U.S. bases in his bailiwick of Olongapo City (God stepped in anyway with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo to ensure that the Americans well and truly left), he turned what could have been a calamitous situation into a golden opportunity. Pushing for the establishment of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, he converted the former U.S. naval base into a thriving freeport, creating more jobs and revenue than when the U.S. military was there.
As Secretary of Tourism, he once again showed his marketing savvy (he was at one time a brand marketing exec for P & G), boosting foreign and local tourism after years in the doldrums. He was also the high profile head of the Philippine National Red Cross, making his presence felt at every natural or man-made disaster even while serving in the Senate.
All is not sweetness and light in Gordon country, however. Long-time anti-U.S. bases activist, child-welfare advocate and Gordon critic, Catholic priest Fr. Shay Cullen, paints a dark picture of a Godfather-like warlord who will not hesitate to use extreme measures to silence his critics and get his way. But this image did not gain wide acceptance in the public mind.
His Senate stint, as one among twenty-four other gigantic egos, must have convinced Dick Gordon, a man of action (with a mouth to match), that he had to move to a bigger stage.
His running mate, Bayani Fernando, is no slouch in the accomplishment and chutzpah department either. A self-made billionaire, he made the once-backward Marikina City the best example of how a progressive and well-administered urban center should be. Although he doesnâ€™t seem to be having as much fun as his partner, burdened perhaps by worries about the recovery of Marikina, one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Ondoy, and challenges to his familyâ€™s political hegemony in the city be built up.
But going by his track record alone, Dick Gordon should be the most qualified to be the next Philippine president. Alas, the surveys say otherwise.
Gordon is unfazed. â€œYou want to go for the winner just because his ratings are higher? Even if heâ€™s the wrong [choice]? Go ahead.â€ Gordon has been quoted as saying. Freed from worry and pressure by being a tailender, his credibility and reputation intact and rising, Dick can plunge wholeheartedly and fearlessly into the fray.
And who knows ? Mr. Gordon has faced long odds before and emerged triumphant. There are enough voters, myself included, who are waffling between this candidate and that and who might just be swayed on election day by the memory of Dick dancing to â€œThe Lion Sleeps Tonightâ€. Or the endorsement of Butch Dalisay, parts of which I reproduce below (without permission, but Iâ€™m sure my tocayo wonâ€™t mind):
â€œIâ€™ve never done this before, but Iâ€™m going out on a limb to make an endorsement. And Iâ€™m going to do that because the stakes are just too high, the situation too dire, for someone in my positionâ€”who might yet persuade the uninformed or the uncertainâ€”to sit idly by as the most important presidential election of the post-Marcos era takes place.
Having gone through martial law, two EDSAs, and the interminably long night of GMAâ€™s hold on power (something she might yet extend with her run for Congress, and presumably the Speakership and Prime Ministership, if the chips fall her way again), Iâ€™m convinced that we Pinoys have punished ourselves enough with bad and corrupt leadership. If we elect another lemon to the Palace again, weâ€™ll have no one to blame but ourselves.
My vote will go to that person who I think has the experience, the integrity, the intelligence, the vision, the compassion and the discipline to best serve as our next president. After reviewing the options, I conclude that that person can only be Sen. Richard â€˜Dickâ€™ Gordon. Heâ€™s running along with former Marikina mayor and Metro Manila chief Bayani â€˜BFâ€™ Fernando — whose teaming up with Gordon was something of a masterstroke, focusing attention on the reputations of both men as proven, no-nonsense performers (or, the way Gordon puts it â€œtransformersâ€ — people who change society).
One just has to look at what Gordon has done in Subic and Olongapo, and what Fernando did to Marikina, to see how they have delivered on their word. Both places provide working demonstrations of what inspired leadership and political will can achieve.
True, both men have big egos, and can come across to Filipinos accustomed to being wooed and massaged as being brusque or even abrasive when they need to get things done. But thatâ€™s nothing compared to the smiling impunity with which GMA and her crew weakened, rather than strengthened, our peopleâ€™s faith in government.
In a country plagued by disasters of every kind, Dickâ€™s 40 years of hands-on experience with the Red Cross should be invaluable. At a time when Philippine-American relations need to be managed with both firmness and finesse, Gordon trumps all his fellow aspirants in experience in dealing with the Americans, knowing when to stand up to them and when to seek their cooperation.
xxx Can Dick Gordon win? The surveys donâ€™t look too good at the moment, but itâ€™s up to us to decide whether to let the surveys — or we ourselves — choose our best next President.â€