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Sir Dodong: A champion of Cebuano arts and music

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - March 4, 2021 - 12:00am

If I don't write about someone who paved the way for me to write about arts and culture in general and the Cebuano creative spirit in particular, I feel unresolved. When I learned of a man who was regarded as a great loss to the local art world, I had an unexplainable feeling. Mourning for his loss is temporary but his legacy is what we will remember—and treasure.

Apart from the annual Christmas gathering that he throws for all employees of The Freeman, I've had remarkable acquaintances with Sir Dodong Gullas, most of which are linked to arts and culture, which he mostly sponsored. His down-to-earth attitude is present in both of these experiences.

His smile was a magnet that attracted people to him even from afar. And who can forget his reassuring words and embrace? He addressed me as “Ma’am Ligaya” in a fatherly manner.

His sincerity and concern for the preservation of local arts and culture is truly an unparalleled feat. To me, his big legacy to the Cebuano people is his unwavering love and commitment to the best of Cebuano arts and culture. This is in addition to being a father figure to the University of the Visayas students and scholars who saw education as a way out of poverty. His legacy spans from generations of successful men and women who have gone through the portals of the university. 

As a result, his legacy lives on in every Cebuano who appreciates and enjoys singing Cebuano music. His spirit lives on in everyone who loves anything and everything that has to do with Cebuano culture. His inspiration lives on in each of us who is committed to finding a Cebuano talent worthy of being heard and seen around the world.

His sincerity in various artistic projects is genuinely manifested not for show but for the good of others' sensibilities. Others aspire for showmanship, but Si Dodong's aim is for others to be motivated and follow their hearts.

Sir Dodong is truly akin to a musical piece or an artwork that we love when we hear or see it, but will be cherished for the rest of our lives because it lingers in our hearts and minds. Many who know him can possibly testify to his generosity, which ranges from educating the mind through the academic institution he and his family founded to nurturing culture through the arts and music. Rest well, Sir Dodong. We will truly miss you.

JOSE DODONG GULLAS
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