As the world celebrates International Volunteers Day on December 5, 2022, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) honors its chairman and CEO, Richard J. Gordon, as a volunteer. Gordon started volunteering at the Red Cross a young age, in 1968. He marks 54 years of being a Red Cross volunteer this year.
Volunteerism probably runs in Gordon’s family. To be exact, he might have “inherited” the trait from his mother. At a young age, he witnessed his mother provide care for many orphaned or abandoned children. It was also his mother, herself a Red Cross leader, who introduced Gordon to what would be, under his leadership, the premier humanitarian organization in the country.
Before becoming PRC’s chairman and CEO in 2004, Gordon as city mayor of Olongapo led around 8,000 volunteers from all walks of life to transform Subic Bay into the a special economic zone after the termination of US Naval Base’s operations there. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, Gordon was among the key government officials who led the response and recovery of Central Luzon.
As chairman and CEO of PRC, Gordon would lead notable humanitarian responses, such as the Ginsaugon landslide response, the Super Ferry response, and the Super Typhoon Haiyan response, which is the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s biggest humanitarian response to date.
Gordon’s brand of volunteerism emanates from his love for the country and its people. This love was once again demonstrated when he worked tirelessly with his colleagues in 2020 to rapidly put up molecular laboratories capable of automated testing of Covid-19, so that the country would be able to detect virus transmission and isolate those infected.
Gordon collaborated with his colleagues at PRC in developing the concept of and launching the barangay-based Red Cross 143 volunteer network, which is what makes PRC able to gather information from the ground and respond quickly in disasters and emergencies.
Gordon’s influence as a Red Cross leader is far-reaching. His colleagues at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and government disaster managers seek his wisdom from his 54 years of experience as a volunteer and leader of the PRC.