Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day – January 17, 2023

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day, commemorated on January 17, is a national holiday in the Philippines honoring James Leonard Tagle Gordon, who served as mayor of Olongapo City from December 30, 1963, to February 20, 1967, and was the country’s first mayor to do so. He was born on January 17, 1917, to Filipina mother Veronica Tagle y Bella and American Marine father, John Jacob Gordon. He chose to remain in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen, building his life and raising his children as Filipino citizens, even though his four brothers obtained American citizenship and resided there. Richard Gordon, a former mayor of Olongapo, is his son.

History of James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day

James Leonard Tagle Gordon was born to an American Marine father and a Filipino mother on January 17, 1917. He continued working in the Philippines in both the civil and humanitarian sectors. He developed a strong sense of family and with the help of his friends, he founded the Boys Town-Girls Home, which still stands today. The home took on the burden of taking care of roughly 70 wards. Amelia J. Gordon, Gordon’s widow, carried on his legacy of compassion by raising children from extremely low-income households until she died in 2009.

Gordon later rose to the position of mayor of Olongapo, where at the time, the area was somewhat obscured by haze. Olongapo was still governed by the U.S. Government after the rest of the Philippines gained independence from the U.S. on July 4, 1946. Not long after the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, the area had been designated a U.S. Naval Reservation. Therefore, a U.S. Navy officer administered it, which meant that Olongapo was now governed by an American military official rather than a Filipino mayor.

Residents were prohibited from owning property under this regulation because the U.S. Navy could take it away at any time, and they were required to carry identification cards provided by the reservation office at all times. Only families with working members were permitted to stay on the reservation, and out-of-town relatives were only allowed brief visits. If their stay lasted longer than a few days, they had to renew their passes. The regulations infuriated the locals, and their resentment reached a boiling point when bus passengers entering and leaving the Naval Reservation were forced to disembark for thorough examinations of their possessions. Olongapo was eventually returned to the Philippine government despite all the commotion.

On February 20, 1967, while in a conversation with a constituent on the first floor of the city hall, Gordon was gunned down by Nonito Alincastre, an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary.

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day timeline

1917
Gordon is Born

Gordon is born on January 17.

1946
Philippine Independence from the U.S.

Olongapo remains under American navy control for a short while after the Philippines gains independence from the American administration.

1947
The Boys Town Girls Home is Established

Gordon establishes the Boys Town Girls Home together with his friends.

1967
Gordon is Assassinated

Gordon is shot down by a prison escapee while conversing with a constituent, and he passes away.

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day FAQs

Is Zambales and Olongapo the same?

Olongapo is a coastal urbanized city in the Central Luzon region. Although administratively independent due to its distinction as a highly urbanized city, Olongapo is commonly grouped with the province of Zambales.

What language is spoken in Olongapo?

As an urbanized city, various languages are spoken in the area ranging from Tagalog, Pampango, Ilocano, and Zambal. Others speak in the dialects of Waray, Visaya, Cebuano, Pangasinan, Bicolano, Ilonggo, among others.

What is the legend of Olongapo City?

The story is that there was once a tribe whose people were disunited. A wise, old man seeing the evils that disunity sowed among his people, exerted great efforts and united the tribe.

How to Observe James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day

  1. Read about James Leonard Tagle Gordon

    To fully appreciate the reason for the holiday, it's best to read more about Gordon. Studying history allows us to observe and understand how people and societies behaved.

  2. Visit the Boys Town Girls Home

    You can visit the Boys Town Girls Home in the Philippines, physically or send in donations to support their work. Donating to the causes not only benefits the charities themselves, but it can also be deeply rewarding for you too.

  3. Visit Olongapo City

    Take some time out to visit Olongapo City, and maybe you could learn more about Gordon. Olongapo is one of the more peaceful places you can visit, and you can go to the numerous malls, beaches, and other tourist spots. The city has many places where you can unwind.

5 Interesting Facts About Gordon

  1. He was a humanitarian

    Gordon was a family-oriented humanitarian person who decided to set up an organization to cater to young children from poor homes.

  2. He preferred Philippine citizenship

    He is the only one of five children to remain in the Philippines and live life there as a Philippine citizen as opposed to moving to the U.S.

  3. He lived a humble life

    Gordon was a humble gentleman and remained that way until the day he died.

  4. He is the father of Richard Gordon

    The former Olongapo Mayor is Gordon’s son.

  5. He opposed the setup

    He strongly opposed the setup where the Americans enjoyed control and administration of the Filipino community inside the military reservation.

Why James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day is Important

  1. He lived a life of service

    Gordon lived a life of service to humanity, and we love that about him. Serving humanity brings hope and life to the downtrodden and the disheartened.

  2. He was a national hero

    Gordon died a national hero because of his achievements and contributions to Olongapo. The collective ideas of a nation are typically represented by national heroes, fostering a sense of identity among the populace. National heroes serve as a constant example of what people should strive to be in their nation.

  3. It's a cultural holiday

    James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day is of cultural and federal significance in the Philippines, and it is a public holiday. We get to spend the day with friends and family.

James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day dates

YearDateDay
2023January 17Tuesday
2024January 17Wednesday
2025January 17Friday
2026January 17Saturday
2027January 17Sunday

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.