Don Vicente Gullas' The Art Of Living Well - 1

There's a big event coming for UV people next week - the launching of Don Vicente Gullas' The Art Of Living Well. Published in 1950, the book has been out of circulation for several decades despite its importance as an educational materials and despite its relevance to DepEd's thrust in values education. Now that long hibernation is over, thanks to Freeman president Jose R. Gullas who initiated the books republication.

The Art is actually a "how to" book. To quote the author in his introduction: "How to be healthy and strong, how to be a successful student, how to be an up-to-date teacher… how to be a progressive businessman, how to look for an employment, how to win greatness and success in life… "The book is therefore a sort of practical guide towards a better quality of life and a life of success. But even as the author waxes pedagogical in his statements, he enriches his instructions with narratives of true-to-life cases, thus bringing home his point interestingly and with greater impact. These cases pertain to well known personalities from various parts of the world, people who figured in the history of their countries and displayed exemplary qualities.

For example, when he tries to convince his reader of the importance of patience and determination to do what is right and to work hard and endure suffering as a strategy for success, he cites such personalities as Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, and Manuel L. Quezon. When he points out the importance of good health as a means to a successful life, he reminds his reader of Lapulapu, Peter the Great, and George Washington.

In all the 24 chapters of the book, the focus is success, what it is, and how to achieve it. An educator, the author starts with a chapter on reading and its vital importance. He advises: "Do not cease to learn as long as you live. Keep on studying and improving. Success shall eventually be yours both in study and in actual life". Then he takes times out to define success. He says: "You may ask, who is the successful man? He is a success when he shall have been able to reap from his study good health and abounding vitality, to acquire sufficient means and opportunities to live and lead an independent livelihood; and when he shall have developed a sound personality to become a living example of love and usefulness to his fellowmen".

From here the author proceeds to explain how success is achieved. If one wants to be successful he must have, first of all, a determination to succeed. Will-power is needed and a sense of destiny. Then he must have patience and the inclination towards hard work coupled with the capacity to suffer.

Suffering is part of the game of life, and one should accept it and endure it, and despite repeated failures, he should never give up. If one keeps his purpose in mind and struggles through no matter how great the impediments, he will not fail to find the pot of gold at the end of his life's rainbow.

In succeeding chapters the author explores the great thoughts of great men. Great thinkers, he says are master builders. Their thoughts sustained with actions and repeatedly articulated soon become the thoughts of a nation, and these serve as its guiding star. It is the force that drives a people towards a common goal. It defines their destiny.

Great thoughts, however, without action and will-power would not be of use. In a chapter entitled Action and Will-power, the author discusses the importance of work. He declares that work makes men leaders and kings. Here he says: "Industry is the ability to work. And the ability to work is willingness, power, capacity, talent, strength… It is the greatest mission in life given by God to man". From here the author asserts that by nature, man is a worker. If he is not a worker, he has no right to live. This is reminiscent of the Biblical story among early Christians who were told by their leader that if they would not work, they should not eat.

To prove his point, the author gives a brief narrative on the lives of Lapulapu, Napoleon, and George Washington. He describes their personal traits, practically their drive to succeed through hard work, courage, and firm resolution. On this score, Don Vicente has this to say: "The author sincerely believes that man makes his own destiny. In some way or other, he wills his future…"
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