Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ledesma: Gordon and his fruits for life

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.


Anonymous said...

wow, i cant belive you did not publish my comment -- what? are you only showing his good side? i mean, youre allowed absents from sesion too, ya know

Paul said...


We would have loved to have replied to your comments sooner but we were waiting to see if you'd leave one with your real name on it.

Gutless creature as you are, we are posting your last comment just to spite you.

In response to your petty issue with regard to Gordon's passion for the Ateneo La Salle games and his attendance at the sessions at the Senate, we have a couple hundred words to write about it but decided you weren't worth the space.

In anycase, here's a couple of dozen.

If he is not at the Senate, he is at the Red Cross and if he in neither of these places, he is certainly attending to other things of equal value.

The last time that he tried to take a vacation with his wife was in June and he still managed to do some work -- which had to do with the US Filipino Veterans Equity Act and also pitching the Philippines to the largest gaming corporation in America.

In the middle of August, he went to Basilan and Sulu -- at the height of military offensives there -- to personally over see the delivery of humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict.

Since then he has visited Sulu and North Cotabato several more times, this was in connection with the Fruits of Hope program. About eight tons of various fruit has been bought, transported by c130, and sold in major supermarkets in Manila -- helping the farmers in former conflict areas establish themselves in the Manila market and helping consumers get low priced, quality fruit.

(If you're interested at all about his activities, you can call his office in the Senate and ask about his whereabouts.)