Remembering Sir Dodong

STANDING START - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - March 1, 2021 - 12:00am

It was in 2012 when a close friend of mine asked me if I could fix his Dad’s Toyota Landcruiser. The car had considerable mileage on it but sentimental value was keeping it from getting sold. That particular time, I was starstruck after learning that the car belonged to a Cebuano Icon. 

Jose “Dodong” Gullas was the owner of this car. It had a busted turbo, dings and scratches and the leather interior was in a “sorry” state. I was entrusted the big task to bring it back to its former glory. His son, Johnvic, who I’ve known since puberty, brought me to his office in the University of the Visayas in Colon.

I can still recall our first conversation in his office. Sir Dodong, as he is fondly called, asked me if he could trust me in fixing his car. He said this car was quite special as this was what he used in his campaign when he successfully ran for Congress in Cebu’s first district. 

“If you can fix my son’s sportscar, well, I’m sure you can do a good job with my car,” he said.

Dodong Gullas was a well-known figure in Cebu.  He was an ex-congressman, the Executive Vice President of the University of the Visayas and also served as Chairman of the Board of The Freeman Newspaper, among other reputable positions that he held.  He was an avid supporter of Cebuano arts and music and a great supporter of the Catholic Church.

Sir Dodong also loved cars. When we successfully restored his Landcruiser to its original state, he got so excited he asked me if I wanted to head the Motoring Page of the Freeman. I told him I haven’t really tried writing for a newspaper.  He convincingly replied, “if you know your craft, you can surely write about it.” 

That same year in July, I started working in the Freeman as the Motoring Editor. From time to time, Sir Dodong would call me to check on my progress. Occasionally, he would ask me to test a few cars that he was interested in buying. 

Sir Dodong was an inspiration to us, someone who motivated us to do our best. He was a firm believer that education and hard work will bring us to places. He always led by example. I was even surprised he still drove his priced Landcruiser to the University until just a few years back when his knees gave up on him. When I asked him about why he still drove, he answered enthusiastically, “there are a lot of things we can’t control in this life Mr. Lord, but this one I can, for now. I will make the most of it.” Sir Dodong certainly lived life to the fullest.

We don’t meet a lot of people like this in our lifetime. But fortunately for me, our roads crossed paths. I met him in his twilight years and yet, he has taught me a lot in life. Thank you and Farewell Sir Dodong.

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