James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day in the Philippines Date in the current year: January 17, 2024

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day in the Philippines James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day (Araw ng Kapanangakan ni James Leonard Tagle Gordon) is observed in the Philippines on January 17 every year to commemorate the birthday of the first mayor of Olongapo City. It is a special nonworking holiday in the city of Olongapo and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

James Leonard Tagle Gordon, commonly known as James L. Gordon, was born on January 17, 1917 to an American father and Filipina mother. His father was a marine stationed at a U. S. Navy base in Olongapo. Gordon had four brothers who chose to take American citizenship and move to the United States, but he stayed in the Philippines when the country was grated independence from the United States in 1946.

However, unlike the rest of the Philippines, Olongapo didn’t gain independence since it was one of the American naval bases retained by the United States. The Navy rebuilt the town that had been practically destroyed by the Japanese during World War II and designated it as a U.S. Naval Reservation.

This situation was far from ideal for the locals: the town was governed by the U. S. Navy, and the commanding officer of the Subic Bay Naval Base acted as its mayor. Olongapo residents had to follow strict rules imposed by the American military. They were required to carry ID cards at all times, paid taxes to the U.S. Navy, could not own home lots, and those accused of crimes involving American servicemen were tried in American military courts.

During this period, Gordon was one of the activists who campaigned for freeing Olongapo from American rule. While serving as Vice Governor of the Province of Zambales, he had enough power to lobby for the turnover of Olongapo to the government of Philippines. In 1955, the Manila Chronicle published a series of interviews with him where Gordon exposed how Olongapo residents and visitors to the reservation were mistreated under U.S. military rule.

The United States officially surrendered Olongapo to the Philippines in December 1959. It was given the status of municipality in the Province of Zambales. After the handover, the provincial government appointed its men on all key positions in the new municipality instead of locals, and Gordon resigned in protest.

The first mayoral election in Olongapo was held in 1963. Gordon reluctantly ran for office and won. He officially became mayor of Olongapo municipality on December 30, 1963, and soon started campaigning to convert Olongapo from a municipality to a city. Despite opposition from the provincial government, Olongapo was finally chartered as a city in 1966, and Gordon took his oath as city mayor.

On February 20, 1967, Gordon was shot by an escaped inmate during a conversation in the city hall. It was the fourth attempt on his life, and, sadly, Gordon didn’t survive it. He succumbed to his injuries aboard the hospital ship USS Repose.

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day was established by the Congress of the Philippines in 2019. It has the status of a special nonworking holiday in Olongapo and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, but it is not observed in the rest of the country.

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James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day in the Philippines, holidays in the Philippines, birth anniversaries, holidays in Olongapo, James L. Gordon