Ledesma: Gordon and his fruits for life
By Jun Ledesma
WHILE his colleagues are making "pogi" points and posing on TV over the ZTE scam and "Hello Garci" scandal, Dick Gordon was personally busy arranging how to bring the bumper crops of fruits from Sulu and Cotabato.
Despite these hectic crusade, Gordon is always present in the Senate as if he was not somewhere in the nooks of Jolo and in the hinterlands of North Cotabato. I will not even be surprised if he is using the same denim pants he was wearing in his trips to Jolo and Kidapawan underneath his suit.
Gordon makes no fuss about his being in these remote areas, touching base with provincial, municipal, and barangay officials and also with farmers and fishermen.
Last month, prior to his trip to Jolo, I had the opportunity to talk to the senator along with Sun Star publisher, Tony Ajero. Over mangosteens and rambutans served to us by artist Kublai and his father Ray Millan, we talked about the birds and the bees.
Nothing about politics actually. He told us about his plan of going to Jolo in relations to his being chairman of PNRC. Then, he made mention about his idea of using the Philippine Navy ships to ferry whatever the farmers and fishermen in Sulu can produce. He recalled that in Jolo, the markets were teeming with mangosteen and were selling so cheap. He said that if the fruits were to be sold in Metro Manila the price is 80 times more than the prices in Jolo market.
I told my own personal story to the senator. I said that there was a time when I was into rose production and buying and selling of roses. The rose farmers in Calinan had no market then except Bankerohan and Agdao. I bought their flowers three times the price of their local buyers and then I sell these in Manila.
Even with the cost of air freight, I still make handsome profit. "Exactly," says Gordon. "Mangosteen, which sells in Jolo market at 5 to 10 pesos per kilo will easily sell at the price range of P80 to P100," he said. "That is what we are going to do in Jolo and here in Davao," he said.
The next time I heard of Gordon less than a week after is that he was in Jolo with a PAF C-130. Two days after that event, I received a surprise call from Senator Gordon. That was about 6:30 in the morning. I thought somebody was pulling my leg pretending that he was Senator Dick. But his tempo and the jubilant voice in the other end was unmistakably Senator Gordon.
Says he, "Jun, report ko lang sa iyo. Yong first plane load natin na fruits from Jolo were gobbled up by our buyers as soon as we unloaded them. In less than two hours, the whole planeload was sold out." Then he added, "I will be arriving in Davao this morning to inaugurate the PNRC building in Davao City. After which I will motor to Kidapawan to arrange for the shipment of their fruits to Manila. I hope to see you."
I saw him that morning and he profusely thanked us for whatever. After the inauguration of PNRC in Davao which he later announced will be the training center of Red Cross volunteers in the Philippines, he proceeded to give awards to business and community leaders, Mayor Rody Duterte and the City of Davao for their support in the construction of the PNRC building here.
Then he excused himself, disappeared obviously to change outfit and scooted to Kidapawan.
In less than a week Senator Gordon is back with C-130 to haul the fruits from Pinol's country. If you think he cannot make time for his duty in the senate, you can wonder. Because he never missed a session.
Yet, Senator Gordon does not make pitches about Estrada's conviction, pardon or amnesty. Maybe his political constituency in Luzon and Visayas are surprised. I am not for I know that what preoccupies the mind of Gordon even as he sits there in important committees, is how to bring the bumper crops in areas of conflict in Mindanao to the markets in Metro Manila.
"Fruits of Hope." "Fruits for Peace." Next time around Gordon will transform the pristine islands of Sulu and Tawi-tawi into prime tourism destinations. Funny? Impossible? Well, I believe Dick "flash" Gordon can.