The 14th Gullas Tennis Cup has started. Vis-Min’s preeminent junior event where 200 children swat volleys and smash lobs, it is the brainchild of one family. Below was the article I wrote 24 months ago. With some updates, here’s their story…
Name me one family in Cebu who is a) Multi-millionaire rich; b) Famous; c) Respected for 100 years; d) Powerful; and—despite all the “Rich and Famous” trappings—have remained e) Humble.
The six-letter answer? Visit the Cebu Country Club courts today and you’ll see hundreds of boys and girls wearing T-shirts with one name printed on the chest: GULLAS.
With Cardinal Vidal, the Gullas family: Jackee Gullas Weckman, Cong. Eddie, Jiji, Didi and Dodong Gullas
Because if there’s one man among the nearly 4 million Cebuanos that you should meet, it’s Jose “Dodong” Gullas. Why? Because his handshake and smile are so genuine they reach out to you and say, “Nice to meet you!” He calls you “Sir” even if it should be the other way around. Put simply, he’s one of the nicest people you can meet.
Dodong Gullas is involved in sports. A lot of sports. He heads the University of the Visayas (UV), a school with an unrivalled sports program. He was the former president of CESAFI, the inter-school league. He’s into many, many sports. But the game he enjoys most?
Tennis. For decades, almost each afternoon at Country Club until he had knee surgery last year, he sweated it out on court. Now you know why the Gullas Cup was born. And why, for 14 years, it’s the biggest in Visayas and Mindanao.
Before tennis, Dodong Gullas’ first love was basketball. He was co-captain of the UV Green Lancers that captured the 1957 national title. They defeated the NCAA champs, Ateneo Blue Eagles, in the first-ever televised game in RP. He was later invited to join the RP team that included Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga.
Don Vicente Gullas, Dodong’s father, started their family’s love affair with sports. In the 1969 book Man of Vision, Susana B. Cabahug wrote: “Vicente was very sickly as a boy but came through with infantile paralysis, typhoid fever and cholera by intensive physical invigoration and exercise for four years in Maasin, Leyte. When he went back to Cebu he developed his physique by turning to sports. He became an all-around athlete: baseball player, basketball skipper, amateur boxer, tennis player, Roman ring (argulla) artist, and fencer.”
Back in 1909—exactly one century ago—Don Vicente became a sportswriter. He was sports editor of the Cable News American and later, associate sports editor of the Manila Daily Bulletin. He authored 12 books. He, of course, later founded one of the country’s largest schools: UV. This was back in 1919. His capital? Only P300.
Don Vicente’s eldest son, Congressman Eduardo, or “Eddiegul,” is another sports fan. He’s a Cebu Sports Hall of Fame awardee. Back in 1958, he was adjudged “Coach of the Year” by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, the season his UV squad won the national title. Then, he was nominated to coach the RP team. But the sport he continues to play until today? Tennis.
Here’s an interesting fact: Paulino Gullas was a member of Congress while his younger brother Vicente concentrated on running the school. Today, Eddie is in Congress while younger brother Dodong is running UV.
Two pairs of brothers. Four great Cebuanos.
Sports flows further down their bloodline. The only son of Eddie is Gerard Anthony, or “Didi,” an all-around sportsman like his grandpa who was into motocross, water skiing, jet-ski, tennis, basketball and badminton. Joselito “Jiji” Gullas, the eldest son of Dodong, was a “street smart” point guard during his ballplayer heydays. Today, you can read him winning tournaments in his favorite pastime, golf. John-Vic, the youngest son of Dodong, is into tennis. With basketball, he boasts of two records: eight three-pointers with Sacred Heart School in a CCSAA game and nine three-pointers in the Velez College intramurals. Both records, I believe, still stand.
As the 14th Gullas Tennis Cup aces off, here’s a salute to the family whose last name is synonymous to Sports: Gullas.