Cebu News

‘A great loss’: Colleagues, friends mourn Gullas’ death

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman
�A great loss�: Colleagues, friends mourn Gullas� death

CEBU, Philippines — An ally beyond the business of work.

This was how friends and colleagues of Dr. Jose Gullas described the late chairman of The Freeman and Banat News.

The papers’ president, Miguel Belmonte, said that more than being a business partner, Gullas, to him, was “Uncle Dodong”.

“Jose ‘Dodong’ Gullas was one of the most highly respected sons of Cebu. He was a loving family man, good friend, and kindhearted boss. A man of guts and vision, he accomplished much in his lifetime, more than most people can hope and dream for. As for me, he was not just a business partner at the Freeman; he was my Uncle Dodong,” reads Belmonte’s message on Gulla’s passing.

The Freeman columnist and former ABS-CBN Cebu anchor Leo Lastimosa said one of Gullas’ virtues was giving chances even to those who doubt themselves.

“Usa sa mga mithi ni Sir Dodong Gullas mao ang paghatag og higayon bisan sa mga way katakos. Nalimsan ko sa iyang kaayo,” he wrote on Facebook.

A pillar of Cebu media, philanthropist, educator, and public servant, Gullas succumbed to pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Cebu City evening on February 25, 2021. He was 87.

Cebu City officials

Cebu City’s top officials also penned heartwarming messages.

“I am deeply saddened upon learning that Jose “Dodong” Gullas has passed away. Cebu has lost a great man who has touched many lives, including mine,” reads the message of Mayor Edgardo Labella.

He shared that Gullas supported him when he decided to run for mayor and even when he was already in office.

“When I ran for Cebu City Mayor, Sir Dodong offered his support. And when I eventually became Mayor, he continued to keep in touch. He would call every now and then to check on me and impart his nuggets of wisdom,” Labella said.

He said Gullas helped instill in him the importance of humility.

“Sir Dodong constantly reminded me to do my job well and to maintain my humility. He would tell me to always be careful because I never ambitioned for this position, which many people are interested in. Those were moments I’ll forever treasure,” Labella said.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama described Gullas as a “man of humility beyond imagination”.

“Sir Dodong was a man of humility beyond imagination. He was a great person with many accomplishments but yet you never heard him boast. He was an exemplary person. Through his determination, he managed to revive The Freeman into one of Cebu’s leading newspapers,” vice mayor said.

Gullas revived The Freeman in 1965, which his uncle, Paulino, founded in 1919. He served as the paper’s chairman until his death.

Rama recalled his student days when he used to spend time with Gullas.

“When I was younger, I used to see Sir Dodong and his brother, former governor Sir Eddie Gullas, to play basketball at UV gym after my afternoon session class at USP,” Rama said.

“The friendship between Sir Dodong and I was one that has lasted for many years. I can recall in 2013 how he was eager to help me in my political cause. I am forever thankful for that,” Rama said.

Mandaue City Treasurer, Atty. Regal Oliva, described Gullas as “A pillar of Cebu and our heritage.”

“He used to summon me every now and then to have a good chat and herald some humor about life's excesses or the lack thereof paired with afternoon coffee and Mandaue delicacies. He used to shower me with his lavish generosity, ohhhh the gifts only coming from one whose kindness overflows. He used to reminisce to me the best of Cebu and the accomplishments of great Cebuanos. And ohhh God! What a great man and Cebuano he was,” Oliva wrote on Facebook.

For fellow philanthropist Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung, Gullas had “no mean blood in his body.”

“He is a very kind human being. He has no mean blood in his body. We lost a great man. My heartfelt condolences to the family,” she said.

Atty. Michael Francis Hubahib, meanwhile, said Gullas’ death is a great loss.

“Lolo Dodong was a known philanthropist and a true lover of Cebuano culture and history. He has also touched so many lives as one of the pillars of UV. His death is truly a great loss,” Hubahib said in a Facebook post.

Resting place

Gullas will be brought to Carcar City on Wednesday, March 3, where he will be laid to rest at the Archbishop Teofilo Camomot Shrine, one of his final wishes.

His remains lie at the Crystal Palace of the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Nivel Hills in Lahug.

Gullas and wife Neña were instrumental in the construction of the multi-million Sta. Teresa de Avila Chapel in Villadolid, Carcar City, Cebu.

Sta. Teresa de Avila is the patron saint of the Daughters of Sta. Teresa, the congregation that Camomot founded 60 years ago.

The couple believes they were being used as an instrument to further spread the teachings and virtues of the late Cebuano Archbishop who is on the road to Sainthood.

Gullas had been very active in the cause for the beatification and canonization of the late archbishop.

Other notable accomplishments

Gullas pioneered night classes for working students at the family-owned University of the Visayas, the oldest university in Cebu, through the “study now, pay later plan” that has enabled countless people to get an education.

During his term as congressman of Cebu’s First District, he was instrumental in decentralizing the payroll system in public elementary schools to address the problem of the delayed release of salaries of teachers. — Sanden J. Anadia, JMO (FREEMAN)

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