Since I started my investigation on Super Typhoon Haiyan, I have amassed quite a bit of information. This is nothing usual when writing an investigative article. However, because of the subject matter, the conversations via interviews, email exchanges, and length of time devoted to watching videos and reading, took its toll both physically and mentally. I found myself at a cul-de-sac. I lost focus and was overwhelmed and inundated with information that can only be described as a convoluted narrative. Super Typhoon Haiyan is undoubtedly the hardest story that I have ever worked on.
At the end of part one of this two-part article, I had more questions than answers. I had enough information, but something was missing. I took a break from my work, and it was during that break that I figured out what it was that I needed to do. So, I phoned an old friend from the Philippines, Richard Gordon. I met Gordon when he was the tourism secretary for the Philippine Department of Tourism (circa 2002-2004).
During his tenure as tourism secretary, Gordon became the Pacific Asia Travel Association chairman, gave the Philippines prominence in global travel and tourism conference circles – the United Nations World Tourism Organization and ASEAN Tourism Forum – and defined the Philippines as a World Of Wonders (WOW) destination. As a result, he brought tourists in despite major challenges such as the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and SARS. By the time he left office, Philippine Tourism was gaining tourists, not losing tourists consistently as it did prior to him taking office.
Naturally, I was not a fan of him leaving his post as tourism secretary, because he was doing such a great job at it. But, a man of his stature and capabilities is destined for even bigger responsibilities. It saddens me to see the Philippines not fully taking advantage of this man’s capabilities. Therein lies the rub. Filipinos have an affinity for showbiz government. Actors become senators and presidents. Add incompetent (but very wealthy) political dynasties to the mix, and it makes it harder for the likes of Gordon to get elected.
The presidency is not a position that should be inherited nor bought. Unless the Philippines is predominantly an educated society, wherein they vote based on logic not with their hearts and certainly not for monetary gain, the vicious cycle of corruption will never end. And, the purveyors of a pernicious prison called the Philippines will stay in power. The wealthy will become wealthier, the poor will continue to make children that they cannot afford to raise.
Gordon is the current chairman of the Red Cross Philippines and has been for some time. After two unsuccessful bids for a government post – the presidency and senate (a position he had occupied previously) – the Red Cross has been keeping him busy. The man wants to do good for others, this much is obvious. As Red Cross chairman, he has given me the necessary perspective to move my article forward via the below interview.
Super Typhoon Haiyan is a record-breaker of a storm, and its wrath is unparalleled in the Philippines. By the end of the below interview, you will be convinced that Chairman Gordon would have made an excellent commander-in-chief in dealing with all aspects related to Haiyan. Feel free to leave a comment, if you don’t agree.
Why should he be the next president of the Philippines? He is not afraid of cleaning after other people’s trash and transforming them into something useful. Tangible proof? Subic. If the Philippines feels it needs cleaning up, they should seriously consider electing Gordon as president.