Don Vicente Gullas' The Art Of Living Well - 2

Let me start with this announcement: The launching of Don Vicente Gullas' The Art of Living Well - will be on March 12 at 4:30 in the afternoon at the UV square. DepEd Secretary Jesli A. Lapus will be the guest of honor. UV alumni and other book lovers are invited.

In last Thursday's piece we said that the Art is a "how to book". We pointed out the author's intent to guide the reader, the young reader especially, to become successful in life. We said too that more than using high level of abstractions, the author relies on the stories of true-to-life personalities to drive home his point.

In this write-up, we cite one more characteristic of the Art: It being an inspirational material. This is not surprising because inspiration was the recurrent theme of Don Vicente in his talks to students, teachers and lay people during his watch as president of the UV. In the sixties, when I was handling college courses, he would sometimes come into my classes to talk to the students. Fatherly in demeanor and warmly persuasive in approach, his message always zeroed in on self-determination and self-sacrifice as a strategy for a successful life. The elements of faith and sense of righteousness would spice his talk because Godliness had a strong hold on his person.

It is not surprising therefore that such message is strongly emphasized in the Art, especially the message of faith. In the chapter on ambition, the author says: "My great ambition in life is to hope and wish that in whatever I say, do or write, God is by my side with his sweet approving countenance of infinite love and wisdom watching over me who do my best to obey His words, for obedience to the Lord is the mother of all virtues".

Faith in God is therefore one type of inspiration the author imparts to his reader. He assures them of God's love and care. Thus: "Because we are His children, God is always working for our good. But we have to show our obedience, our love and gratitude to Him to entitle us to His ready love and protection".

A talk on God and religion is not complete without a talk on prayer. So the author asks: "Is there any assurance that He will give us what we ask of Him?" Answering his own question, he says: "Yes, we can approach Him, we can reach Him through fervent prayers".

Another type of inspiration awakened by the author is that of love and service. His advice: "Give and practice as much love as you can. Love is charity. It is one of the strongest factors that make life triumphant and successful". To Don Vicente, love and service go together. If one loves, he opens his heart to the object of his love and his first impulse is to serve. The loved one must be made happy, hence, the lover gives his time and efforts, his talents and ability, yes, even his priced possessions he gives for the sake of love.

If one loves his fellowmen his banner is service. But how shall this be expressed? The author explains: "You may build a school, a hospital, an asylum, or do a simple act of kindness, such as feeding and cheering the hungry and the homeless; or educating the poor and the discouraged..." If these are done for the sake of service, the giver can be counted among the great public servants, benefactors and people with immortal name.

Towards the middle part of his book the author shifts his concern from philosophical to practical, from great achievements to simple accomplishments, the kind expected of ordinary people. In this regard, the teacher in Don Vicente asserts itself. The result is a cluster of discussions on educational subjects such as character education, citizenship, and teaching strategy.

On character education the author stresses the different traits that should be developed in students to make the latter successful in their endeavors. He enumerates twenty-four such traits among which are ambition, cheerfulness and optimism, cleanliness and orderliness, industry, patience, sincerity, courage, and honesty.

Juxtaposed with virtue is vice. Vice is the state of being devoid of character and God-like trait, the author says. It is an obstacle to success and self-improvement. Because of this, one should avoid such vices as idleness, dishonesty, cruelty, intemperance, irreligion, coincide, insincerity, disrespect to law and order and immorality.

On the whole, The Art Of Living Well is what its title says: A compendium of ideas and precepts on how to live a life of happiness and success.
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