Now another century to Journey
RECOLLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS - Dr. Jose "Dodong" R. Gullas (The Freeman) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

The Freeman’s actual centennial anniversary day was last Thursday, July 18. But we chose to have the celebration a day late, on Friday, July 19, a Friday. We were inviting as many former employees as we could, and we thought a Friday was a good time for most of them who would not have work on the weekend.

And it was a celebration indeed. Not at all flashy, but very heartwarming. People came not necessarily for the anniversary merrymaking but for dear company of friends old and new.

When my Lord and my God breathed life to this poor soul, this lowly servant of the Lord, I believe He had reason for it. I believe, too, that life is truly important, a belief that Papa Inting and Mama Pining nurtured with their constant reminder: “Dodong, remember always that life is a gift and that you and you are living on borrowed time. It is always better to be kind as kindness is the mother of all virtues, and gratefulness the father of our being.”

I remember that more than fifty years ago I talked to Papa and Mama on my plans of reviving The Freeman. Mama was quick to point out, “Ask permission from your Tia Hilda.” I did, and the rest is history, so to speak.

The journey in reviving The Freeman was not a walk in the park, at times I tread on dark, deep waters. Together with my brother, Mr. Juanito Jabat, who was my very humble Man Friday, Mr. Balt Quinain, and a handful of staff from J and Js Printers, the first issue of The Freeman came out in 1965. Another key moment came with the suggestion of the late Senator Gerry Roxas, a good friend of my brother Eddie, who suggested to me, “Dodong, if you want The Freeman to become closer to Cebuanos, make it a daily local paper.” I am glad I took heed of the senator’s suggestion, although it was a great challenge to do.

The Martial Law years were without doubt crucial for Philippine journalism, and The Freeman came out of that dark period of our history remaining steadfast in our quest for “fair and fearless” reporting. And when, at some point, key personnel chose to turn their backs on The Freeman and ‘jumped ship’ for personal gain, we remained standing tall.

When the Star Group led by my younger brother Miguel Belmonte joined me in this journey in 2004, I realized that I had now time to rest and relax, appreciate and enjoy the beauty of life, ‘smell the roses’, and listen to beautiful songs of yesteryears.

I’ve come realize that I have done only so little, no matter how I get myself busy with civic and humanitarian involvements.  I find the ground before me still very fertile for fresh kind footprints to be made. Only my constant companion Sr. Sto Nino, with the protective arms of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the watchful eyes of Mama Mary and the intercession of my brother, Servant of God, Bishop Teofilo Camomot, knows what more I can do. And I rely on divine prodding and inspiration to keep on.

Finally, it is with utter gratefulness I acknowledge this good luck and blessing to have witnessed this double centennial celebration – of 100 years of the legacy of Papa Inting and Mama Pining, the University of the Visayas; and 100 years of the legacy of my uncle Paulino Gullas, The Freeman.

I also extend my gratitude to all the past and present men and women of The Freeman who have walked with me in the journey of the paper’s first 100 years. We shall continue in our search for the truth in the stories that matter to the community. And as we do we shall continue to be “fair and fearless” as we carry the torch forward into the future.

CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY
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