It did not become “The Sanctuary”
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Just few days after Mayor Eduardo Gullas won the 2016 elections, he talked about leaving a legacy to Talisay City in expression of his profound gratitude. The mayor (now back as congressman representing the 1st District of Cebu) mentioned that since he first joined politics in 1969, he never obtained a victory margin in Talisay in excess of 5,000. The 2016 elections showed him garnering 58,000 plus votes, with his closest opponent only getting 24,000 plus. Gullas was both humbled by the trust and confidence he received and ecstatic by the overwhelming majority that he committed to make his city proud.

In his rumination, Eddiegul, as he is fondly called, talked about making the city a well-known tourist destination, a site of a world-class landfill, a center of technical/vocational education and a city ready against calamities. He is aware of the historical importance played by such famous Talisaynons as the Cuatro Alinos and the significance of the place as the landing site of the Americans in World War II. Converting the beachhead into a focal point of tourism oriented activities was among his priorities.

The then newly-elected mayor heard of the modern landfill in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental. It was his objective to replicate if not improve the Bayawan City model and make the facility in Barangay Tapul serve the health and sanitary needs of his constituency. He also figured of ways to convert the abortive Lagtang public market into a haven of TESDA-oriented kind of learning and training with the end in view of providing the youth in his city with skills.

The fourth project Eddiegul had then in mind was something that would have addressed the deficiencies that the COVID-19 crisis has shown. I revealed to Eddiegul that I was a doomsday prepper and what he had in mind was the kind of activity preppers like me busy ourselves with. In his sharing, Gullas wanted to build a structure to house all emergency first responders. Current events now call them frontliners. Police and other peace keepers, firemen, doctors, and health personnel, with all needed equipment and tools, should have a central office of some kind. That building too must be the sanctuary where survivors of natural calamities will be housed. His vision was going to be a realization of my personal dream. The undertaking though was estimated to cost beyond the city’s financial capacity.

If only to present an angle of reasonable probability to the project, I broached to him the idea of asking his friends to contribute by constructing the sanctuary themselves and donate such completed building to the city. I reminded him that some of his wealthy friends were just waiting for his call. Indeed, after some discussion, he asked me to prepare such kind of letter to the Aboitiz group which I addressed to my friend, the late Bobby Aboitiz. The response was quick. High corporate officials descended from their air-conditioned offices and in enthusiastic gesture gave meat to an imagination.

Our subsequent meetings focused on the sanctuary Sir Eddiegul imagined. When I left office after less than a month, the construction hadn’t yet begun. I subsequently learned that a building was completed at no cost to the city. In a visit, I found out that the original concept was not followed. The sanctuary did not come to be.

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