A humble epilogue "To Never Forget" - II (An Ode to Friendship)

AS IT APPEARS - Lorenzo Paradiang Jr. -

The well-crafted memoir of Dodong Gullas reveals some highlights humbly underplayed passively with just a sentence or two, or a paragraph. His stellar roles as UV ROTC Corps Commander earning the coveted Star in the Visayas Third Military Area command; and, as Captain-ball of the famous UV Green Lancers that thrashed the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the country’s inter-collegiate basketball championship, are just samplers.

Dodong’s elder brod, now Congressman Eduardo R. Gullas, served the UV ROTC as Corps Commander that had garnered the first STAR. When Dodong had his turn two years later, the UV ROTC once again earned another STAR.

On prodding of the Gullas brothers, one and his brother took up the two-year ROTC advanced course, together with Dodong. In one’s column in the Visayanian, the school organ, as “SHAKO Shaker”, one fondly called him the “Young Boss”. It was in the ROTC stint that one’s relationship with him became closer than in high school. May be it was owing to the hectic activities, Saturday ROTC advanced classes and briefings, the Sunday drills, and the “Shako” fraternity.

Dodong used to invite top cadet officers to after-Sunday drills in posh places then, like, Yarrow Beach in Talisay. Candidly, for inability to chip-in, one always found “excuses” not to go with the group and, Dodong correctly “diagnosed” the cause. One time, he called me aside, saying that he understood one’s predicament, and, that he was just fortunate to have parents with better means and, he would be thankful if given a chance to help out.

After topping the ROTC tactical inspections, ROTC Advance graduates underwent Summer Training for probationary reserved officers of the AFP at then Fort McKinley. Since one’s father was then very sickly, he and his brother wanted to beg off. It was then, one learned later, that Dodong personally paid a visit at one’s very humble abode and had a chat with one’s sickly father. No, one wasn’t ashamed of one’s poverty then, but more embarrassed for the inconvenience on Dodong. Because of the problematic conditions at home, the whole summer interlude was a nightmare.

At the summer training, Dodong was very popular and well-respected. After a photo session, a Corps Commander of a rival Cebu unit got irked seeing the photo caption on Dodong and, for a nebulous reason, asked his school comrades for their copies to tear them. Feeling insulted for Dodong, one reacted by tossing his copy towards the fellow daring him to tear it, and, at the same time, snatching one’s issued rifle, feeding it with few live ammo. Thank God, the challenge wasn’t taken and, instead the fellow apologized for his tantrum.

When now this incident has come out, it’s definitely not to score some “pogi” points. Anyway, with our ages being so, it’s too late a non-issue. It’s just that for a friend as one has learned over the years, induces ipso facto that elemental sense of loyalty, even if unbidden. In parting sidelight on friendship and humane nature for the less fortunate in means, again, without the rich being patronizing or condescending, one cites this intimate “trivia” as just an ode to friendship.

On Sundays during the summer training, most probationary officers were off to Manila… Because of meager fare money, one often went with a friend or two of similar pocket paucity. However, one time, Dodong “cornered” me to go with him. And, he insisted on “taking things” on his own. While at the “Escolta” then as watering hole and shopping center of the affluent, he had himself fitted with two pairs of pants at Manlapat’s and, bought two pairs of Florsheims at a shoe emporium. He insisted to have one fitted with a pair at Manlapat’s and a pair of Florsheim. One politely and thankfully declined which made him shake his head, not with anger, but more of frustrating understanding.

Much later in life, one’s children gifted him with two pairs of Florsheims in two different occasions, but these are seldom used, but kept as treasures to endear, like priceless tokens of a lasting friendship to never forget.

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