Of Loyalty and Betrayal
RECOLLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS - Dr. Jose "Dodong" R. Gullas (The Freeman) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

I’ve had time to reflect on things these past days. And as I look at the length of the shadow of yesterday, so to speak, there’s some ringing in my ears, some whispering in my heart and knocking on my conscience. There are two things in particular that would have escaped me if not for my wife Nena reminding me: the Masses we regularly celebrated in my office – on Mondays we’d offer it to our dear departed loved ones and to my brother, Servant of God Archbishop Teofilo Camomot; the Wednesday Masses were for our beloved Mother Mary under the title Our Mother of Perpetual Help; and for the Holy Child, my constant companion, Senor Santo Niño, on Fridays. 

It was also Nena who prodded me to look into the University Chapel and have it improved and renovated. The Chapel was originally built under the supervision of my dear mother and UV co-founder, Mama Pining. With that in mind, the Alliance of Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary Chapel on the ground floor of the Josefina Building facing the eight-story Inday Pining Building in the main campus is now a beautiful, a worthy place of worship dedicated to both Papa Inting and Mama Pining, beckoning each and every Visayanian to come and spend time with the Lord in between or before or after classes – it is our humble gift to them this Christmas.

Having the Chapel renovated can be likened to “preparing the way of the Lord” in this season of Advent, as we light the “Bethlehem Candle” or the Candle of Preparation today, may we all learn to welcome this season for its true meaning, the coming of the Messiah and with that, endeavor to “walk in the cathedral of generosity” as we continue to tread on our life’s journey especially this holiday season.

In like manner, I had the main campus gymnasium renovated for Visayanians, in order to have a spacious and spunky “Home of the Green Lancers” facility for sporting and university events, one that can accommodate a bigger audience, and perhaps the envy of many. Since we opened its doors on the third quarter this year, we shared its use to the public, and Cebuanos have been holding corporate and social events there.

In the past, it was quite my tradition to make it a point to meet new students and transferees at the start of every semester and welcome them personally to the University. My office had always been open to students, student leaders, parents and faculty members who wished to personally air their requests or grievances, Visayanians who made good in inter-collegiate competitions, proudly representing the school, and athletes who won in competitions to share their achievements – often, these students were ushered to a nearby restaurant afterwards for a celebratory meal.

Recently, transferee students from Biliran, Leyte who enrolled in UV’s Maritime education were also treated to a sumptuous fare after a meet-and-greet session. This was in line with Mama Pining’s reminder to me: “Dodong, you can express your love and affection… and gratefulness through the stomach.”  

Recent events in the University, the change of management, the “changing of guards,” so to speak, has shaken my entire being. Perhaps, certain people do not realize, or do not appreciate, what I have done for the school. I cannot help but feel concerned of the future of the legacy of Papa and Mama.

I had yet to embark on a lot of projects as the University reaches 100 years. For the past two years, I had seen through the preparations for the Centennial year, which commenced without fear of contradiction (as the education industry was going through difficult times) with an impressive opening salvo in January and the Grand Alumni Homecoming or GAHOM last July. I had also been working for the full autonomous status for the University, among many other things.

As my plans and projects were cut short, I have composed myself and remained calm. But I am only human – I am hurting but not angry, not hateful. Nevertheless, I am most disappointed by some people whom I have developed, nurtured, taken care of like my own children – whom I have shaped from nothing into what they are now, people who conveniently chose to turn their backs on me when the going got rough. Such people lend proof to my belief that “man is ungrateful by nature” – those that remain grateful to me are the rare exception to the rule.

I am human, not divine; I am wounded, yes; do I feel betrayed? The Lord knows. The scars will remain. Those people, who were instrumental to what happened, also know what they did. I am now in my sunset years perhaps I deserve at least some consideration of my feelings. Those who believe in the Almighty, whatever religious conviction one has, would know that parents are to be honored and respected.

Nothing lasts in this life and it’s sad that we have to bruise each other’s feelings while we’re still here. Papa Inting’s words ring true to this day: “Kita tanan, lumalabay lang, daw aso – ug walay aso na makumkum.” Yes, in this life we’re all just passing by like smoke, and smoke always floats.

And so, it is my constant prayer and wish that the third Gullas generation will learn as we have been reminded constantly by both Papa Inting and Mama Pining: “Put your heart in your hands in dealing with your fellowmen” and to stay humble, compassionate in dealing with others – because we do not know when our Lord, our Creator, will knock on our doors.

Be loving, be considerate, be humane.

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