Thank you, Sir Dodong

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

I join the entire The FREEMAN family in mourning the death of our chairman, Jose “Dodong” Gullas. Though he is gone from this world, Sir Dodong, a Cebu media pillar, educator, legislator, and philanthropist, will always have a presence in the lives of Cebuanos, and in the hearts of those who knew him.

The last time I personally met Sir Dodong was in December 2018 when he called for a meeting with all The FREEMAN columnists at his office at the University of the Visayas. We were then preparing for the 100th anniversary of the newspaper the following year. One thing I observed was that he always allowed everyone to speak in the room, specifically asking for each person’s thoughts.

I have no other close personal encounters with Sir Dodong, but let me relate a short personal story. When I was completely down and out after emerging from a health crisis 20 years ago, I applied for any job that could take me. It was the year 2000 and the economy was still recovering from the 1997 economic crash; jobs for even a college graduate wanting to be independent from home were not that easy to get.

Then I remembered about a good job opportunity from The FREEMAN which came when I was on my last year in my Mass Communication course at UP Cebu shortly before the economic crash of 1997. But I had other plans back then in 1997, of which going to Manila for further studies was one. But unfortunate events led me back to Cebu.

So that year in 2000, I humbly sent my job application letter to The FREEMAN. I say humbly because I applied for the position of “proofreader” because I had assumed then that the choice editorial positions of reporter or copy editor were no longer available. Despite my application for proofreader, The FREEMAN hired me as copy editor which allowed me to get back quickly on my feet.

I will always be grateful and indebted to The FREEMAN that Sir Dodong led and inspired since the newspaper’s revival in 1965. We in The FREEMAN lost Sir Dodong, but his life and service will continue to be a model in our own life and work. To The FREEMAN and the Philippine STAR Group, and to the Gullas family, thanks for sharing Sir Dodong!

* * *

You know when election season is just around corner when you start getting invitations to run for office. A municipal council seat, maybe? A tantalizing offer for me because that would be an opportunity to serve the public directly. Filing for a certificate of candidacy is easy, but winning an election is another story.

Will I ever consider running for public office? I think I’ll wait for the proper time. That proper time is when our moral ecology becomes more conducive to the kind of politics I aspire for – the kind where we have a strong party system that really stands for something. Maybe that will never come, I don’t know.

In any case, for the coming elections I resolve to contribute financially to the campaign of candidates I wish to see run the local and national affairs. I did this with a few candidates in two previous elections, and I also served as legal counsel for certain candidates I like. If we really want our kind of candidates to win, we should put our money where our mouth is. As a voter, expecting money from politicians during election is a recipe for the moral bankruptcy of a nation.

I also hope to see the kind of politics that is not egocentric, the kind that does not bask in the glory of ordinary people looking up to their leaders as the center of their world. Power has the tendency to make us believe we are better than we really are, or that we are better than others.

This pandemic reminds us of the importance of living for service, not for status or recognition. Our achievement should be measured in the kind of community that is nurtured by the sum of our honest efforts, not in the pile of titles and accolades we get.

Our happiness lies in the quiet sense of fulfilment that comes with a society that has become stable and progressive because we showed a good moral example and did the right things whether in front of or away from the eyes of the public.

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