Dr. Jose R. “Dodong” Gullas: Sterling model of letting go and moving on

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - February 22, 2021 - 12:00am

I miss Sir Dodong. In the UV campus. I miss him in The FREEMAN offices. I miss him in the Halad Museum. He’s a symbol of hard work, perseverance, persistence, and bullheadedness. He has the passion to make things happen. And yet he’s also the model of humility, respect gentleness, and compassion. He retired and that wasn’t an easy thing to do after working over 50 years in UV.

Seldom do we find a very rich man but a very gentle one, hardworking, conscientious, and still very understanding of others who cannot cope with his rigorous work schedules and ethic. He leads people and he manages work. He respects human dignity and is always gentle and compassionate. Don Vicente's best gift to us are his two sons, Sir Eddie and Sir Dodong, aside from Inday Sering, the eldest. Seldom do we find a family that doesn’t bicker about power, money, positions, or possessions. They were all brought up in the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and love, well-bred to be gentlemen and ladies. If you ask me, as a true-blooded Visayanian, what is the most valuable legacy of the Gullases, it’s the Gullas Family, a model of decency, respectability, and honor. If I were to advise the city mayor and the provincial governor, they should give a distinction to the Gullas Family as our inspiration, especially in these trying times.

I miss the physical presence of Sir Dodong Gullas. I thought he would never retire because UV and The FREEMAN were his life, next to his family. It isn’t easy to leave two iconic institutions for whom one has toiled long. But he did the impossible and is living happily with his wife, reminiscing all the good things he has done. More than anyone else, he built a world-class center of excellence out of the institution his father founded, his mother expanded, and his elder brother strengthened. He stayed home while Sir Eddie served the country for over 50 years now. But even if he did all the hard work in UV, Sir Dodong gives all honor to Sir Eddie. And Sir Eddie returns the favor by loving his younger brother and respecting his work. A strong bond unites these two brothers.

For the longest time, Sir Dodong led and managed the University of the Visayas, perhaps even longer than his father, Don Vicente, the founder, and his mother, Lady Josefina Rivera Gullas. Aso, for the longest time, Sir Dodong led and managed The FREEMAN, the legacy of his uncle, Paul Gullas, Cebu's first Bar topnotcher. When Sir Eddie couldn’t run anymore because of term limits, the people of the first district asked for another Gullas. The kids were too young then, so Sir Eddie had to turn to Sir Dodong. He was reluctant then because he isn’t a natural politician like Sir Eddie. But Sir Dodong obliged and won without batting an eyelash. In a short time, he accomplished a lot in Congress. Of all his achievements, I honor him most for localizing the payroll of public school teachers.

After only one term, Sir Dodong returned to UV all the more energetic, dynamic and passionate. He doesn’t talk too much but he makes decisions fast and really decisively. Imagine being on top of the oldest university in Cebu with a number of branches. There are thousands of students and hundreds of faculty members. There are dozens of administrators, deans, principals, and staff. And Sir Dodong had the power, prerogative, and privilege to hire, fire, transfer, promote, reshuffle, and rotate. He can make and unmake careers and immensely affect the lives of thousands of personnel and their families. It was a tremendous power entrusted to him. But he did it all with flawless precision. He bit the bullet and faced the music and never refused to face the consequences of his actions and decisions.

For one hundred years, UV has survived wars, revolutions, catastrophes, and calamities. The UV employees never formed a union. They love the Gullases. UV is like one big happy family, led by the Gullases, now the third generation. They have very difficult jobs to do in following the footsteps of Don Vicente, Inday Pining, Inday Sering, Sir Eddie, and the longest serving of them all, Sir Dodong. I know they’re doing well. And they will excel in a very competitive arena. Their greatest weapon is the Gullas trademark and the blood in their veins. The standards of Sir Dodong is a mark greater than an ISO certification or PAASCU seal. I’m willing to bet my life on that.

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