I was a fan of Dick Gordon, the man who they called The Flash. He was full of idealism and a natural leader. I would love to be seated next to him. I would love to catch the same breath of air that passes through his sense of national pride.
I first saw him on TV after the tragic 1990 major Luzon earthquake. He was there saving lives in the cities of Baguio and Cabanatuan. Those cities were the hardest hit with several collapsed buildings and hotels. He was then armed with his advanced SBMA units doing search and rescue operations. His efforts are rarely seen from politicians and public servants anywhere in the country. And to think that Olongapo is actually hours away from these cities makes it even more heroic.
Gordon, gadgetry, flash, hero. Who wouldn’t fancy any young guy’s idealism and imagination?
Then I saw him again during the US Bases debates. I personally advocated for the restoration of our national sovereignty and thus against the presence of the US bases in Subic and Clark. While he was on the other side, he got a compelling argument.
The economy of Olongapo and the surrounding areas are deeply dependent on these bases. And taking them out without proper plans on how to transform the bases without affecting local economies would be crucial for the local people. He knew what he wanted and he knows how to do it. The magnificent 12 wanted the bases out but lack the vision on how to transform these bases.
He, as far as I see on the national debates, has one. He was young, surrounded by young lawyers, young activists, and fresh faces. There was a new hope that springs upon his face every time I see him on TV. He was simply charismatic.
Then I came to Olongapo…
I saw organization. All were organized. From the business community down to the balut vendors and the magbobote, they all have their organizations with their matching uniforms and identifying colors.
What’s wrong with that you say? Nothing. Except that you cannot do business if you are not a member. You cannot sell balut if you are not one of them. What’s wrong again with that you say? Well, you cannot be a member if you don’t follow the rules. Ergo, if you don’t follow the rules, you are economically dead.There’s nothing wrong about having rules right?
Not if there’s only one rule. Their rules.
With all their famous agitating slogans that you can see all over Olongapo’s walls, he got one that is not so famous among Olongapenos, “Kung ayaw mo sa patakaran ko, lumayas ka ng Olongapo!”
Now it certainly makes me wonder IF he becomes President.
Political dynasties may not necessarily be bad but nepotism is at it worst here. You had no choice but the Gordons. Streets, hospitals, schools, they’re all named after the Gordons. You had no choice but whatever they say your choice would be. The congressman, the city mayor down to mere barangay councilors are all Gordons. The SBMA was also run by Dick Gordon at that time until Erap took him out. And only until recently, a Magsaysay took over the Congress position.
Public utilities were under city hall. Water, electricity, garbage. And by experience, they can use their power over these PUD’s to put anybody back in line. I knew a lot of people who got tired of voting for Gordon and guess what? They put the lights out of their businesses until they went bankrupt.
For two years, I got no job in Olongapo because I refuse to follow the rules. The main job source was the SBMA which was run by them. At that time, applicants were required to provide your voter’s ID. This is for them to map out where you vote so they can ask the barangay leader there if you are “one of them.”
For outsiders, the presence of organizations and usual unified mobilization in Olongapo shows a vibrant democratic process. Little did they know that all these are mobilized and organized only under one name, and only under one rule.
Non-conformity is strictly forbidden.
So when I first heard about the Transformers a.k.a. the Gordon-Bayani team-up, I was amused but not surprised. They simply belong together.
You see while it may seem it is but necessary to have rules and organization, in the greater scheme of things, leaving people out of options is not only dreadful, it is despotic in nature. Organization without leaving room for discourse is a democratic façade for dictatorship.
Besides, even religions give us the option to use our free will.