Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, December 04, 2008

For the love of Olongapo

New York has New York, New York. San Francisco has I Left My Heart in San Francisco. Hawaii has Blue Hawaii. Here at home, you have Manila.

So what’s stopping mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. from singing his beloved Subic’s praises in Subik and Bayan Kong Olongapo? It will be good for his hometown’s image and bring in the tourists to boot.

Thus, the good mayor took his guitar again, recorded melodies in his trusty tape recorder, and came up with Bonggo. It’s his second album and follow-up to his successful debut CD years back.

“Music wields a lot of power,” the singer-songwriter explains. “It can promote values like discipline and honesty.”

It can also instill optimism and love for one’s roots.

One of the cuts, Yesterday Don’t Matter, says, Puwede bang limutin mo na/Ang kahapon, lumipas na/At hindi na uulit pa/Yesterday don’t matter.

Another track, Bayan Kong Olongapo, is a call to action. It urges, Bayan kong Olongapo/di pa tapos ang laban mo…

Gordon goes for advocacy music as much as mellow themes. He goes sentimental in the ballad You Say. He tells listeners to follow their heart and trust themselves in the carrier single Deep Inside My Mind.

The public servant meets the hopeless romantic (wife Anne is first on Gordon’s thank you list). And Gordon is in seventh heaven. He jumps to the beat of the guitar on stage with his faithful band. He could talk the whole day about his music and plans for his beloved Olongapo.

The man is a diehard Beatles and Elvis Presley fan. He knows there is more to probe in John Lennon’s songs (e.g. Imagine) than in Paul McCartney’s simpler tunes.

And he knows how to get better results for his songs.

“I’m thinking of translating them into English the way Freddie Aguilar’s Anak is now being sung in other languages,” muses Gordon.

The guy, after all, is no greenhorn in the live music circuit. He formed his first group, Beehives when he was in high school. The group played instrumental songs inspired by The Ventures and The Shadows.

Gordon and his band’s efforts finally paid off when they got paid the then princely sum of P80 per night as weekend performers in the George Dewey High School Teen Club.

“Our audience was American,” recalls Gordon. “My mother got angry whenever American girls approached us.”

After a few years, Gordon, then a student, found himself driving for three hours to Iowa from Chicago to play country music with a local band.

Today, he lets the child in him play through his music while making the public servant side of him shine through songs about patriotism and love for Olongapo.

“We have more than 14 gold medals, more than what (Olympic swimming champion) Michael Phelps has,” Gordon crows. “Olongapo has been hailed Most Competitive City. We hope to be known as the Most Child-Friendly City when the results of the search is announced next month.”

There’s excitement in his voice; a glint in his eyes. The artist-public servant knows what he wants. And he knows what to do get it, too. By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark - Philippine Star

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