Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bagumbayan reborn

To people in search of better governance and a leader, the launching of a Bagumbayan, a national movement composed of more than 30,000 volunteers was a clear sign that a political party has been formed and the candidacy of Richard Gordon sealed.

Two thousand delegates who paid for their own way from all walks of life and every corner of the country, including overseas Filipinos, flocked to the movement’s grand launching and national convention held at the Manila Hotel and contributed P17 million through individual contributions. Dick was quoted earlier as saying he left it to the party to nominate its presidential standard bearer in the 2010 election, and that if nominated and elected, he will accept.

I spoke with a senior-looking guy wearing an expensive embroidered barong what he thought of the launch and Gordon. He removed his eyeglasses, wiped them with a handkerchief and said, “It’s high time that we had a party like Bagumbayan, and a leader like Dick Gordon, who is an action man, who has demonstrated that social change must start with change in the hearts of individuals.”

The delegate, seated three rows behind Dick and wife Kate, looked around the sea of delegates wearing red shirts and blouses, and said, “Everyone here, plus thousands and thousands of our relatives, will vote for a leader like Dick.”

Leon B. Herrera, president of the Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines Movement, said the party’s launch was timed with the anniversary of the Battle of Mactan because Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino hero, is one of the movement’s inspirations.

Dick added to Lapu-Lapu the heroism of Jose Rizal and the citizens of Olongapo (when he was mayor there) who volunteered to rebuild Subic Naval Base after its devastation by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and its abandonment by the US military forces. He talked about the volunteerism that young men demonstrated: world flyweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr., CNN Hero nominee Efren Penaflorida, Journey band lead vocalist Arnel Pineda, and Chikka.com founder Dennis Mendiola.

A teary-eyed Dick said there is a need to abandon the “transactional politics” of the country’s “corrupt leaders.” He said, “Change ourselves first, before we change our leaders.” The crowd roared in agreement. He added, “What this country needs is not just a change OF men, but a change IN men.”

I have personally seen Dick work as a legislator and administrator — as the youngest Constitutional Convention delegate, as Olongapo City mayor, as head of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, as secretary of Tourism, and as senator.

Opinion polls have named other presidentiables, but not him. But the Issues and Advocacy Center (The Center), in its Pulso ng Pilipino yearend poll conducted from Jan. 6 to 9, 2009, showed him as registering a two percent increase in voters’ preference for president as compared to the previous survey of October 2008. According to a press report, the independent survey firm explained that people are more likely to choose leaders who actually work on curbing corruption in the country.

Dick was quoted as saying, “I am glad and humbled that our people appreciate the work we do in the Senate. This modest gain however validates what the people demand from their leaders, that is to lead a no- nonsense fight against graft and corruption.”

At the Bagumbayan launch, Dick said people have asked why Bagumbayan was chosen as the party’s name. Because, he replied, it was in Bagumbayan (the Luneta) where Rizal was killed, and it is from that scene that a new nation is born.

* * *
A word on Dennis Mendiola, who is a volunteer with the Philippine National Red Cross, of which Dick is president. Dennis had seen, and admired, the leadership qualities of Dick at Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. He held the position of deputy administrator for corporate planning at SBMA, where he primarily oversaw the development and privatization of SBMA’s facilities. Dennis graduated summa cum laude at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania, and finished his MBA with honors from Harvard Business School. He won several awards for business and public service: TOYM 2007, Agora Award for Marketing, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Technology, and Go Negosyo Award for Entrepreneurship. Dennis is the founding CEO of Chikka, and managing director at Next Century Partners, a company he helped to set up for Philippine investments.

--By Domini M. Torrevillas - Philstar

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