The Paulus Cañete

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HI, Paulus. Michelle So of Sun.Star. Would you be available for an interview tomorrow, say 9 a.m.?"

"Nope, dis s richel."

"Oh my. Sorry. Got the number from (our reporter)." (Swallow me, Earth. Now!)


And so began my path to meeting the controversial Dr. Paulus Cañete by sending a text Tuesday night to Richel Bacaltos, the person he is locking horns with over the presidency of the Talisay City College (TCC).

I finally got Paulus's correct number. He agreed to the interview 13 hours ahead of my request. He couldn't make it at 9 a.m. Wednesday because he would be in Manila.

"At which Bo's in Ayala are we meeting?" I texted Paulus at 9:30 p.m. last Tuesday.

"I'm in Tinderbox." Oh. I thought we were meeting at Bo's.

At Tinderbox, I scanned the faces of the guests. I saw a man by himself in one table. He was texting. I approached him.

"Paulus?" I asked softly. The guy looked up but went back to texting. Not Paulus then.

I met Paulus near the door to the cigar room. He was with three radio broadcasters. I asked Paulus that I'd like a separate table for the two of us for my interview.

During the one-hour interview, Paulus discussed the issues surrounding his appointment as acting TCC president. I told him that wherever he goes, controversy follows him.

This is the same Dr. Paulus Cañete who had locked horns with Mayor Jonas Cortes over, guess what, the presidency of the Mandaue City College (MCC).

"I see myself as a conflict manager," Paulus said of his perspective on what happened at MCC and TCC. He said he finds himself in situations that put him in the public limelight.

Paulus, 40, strikes me as a guy who doesn't budge an inch from a spot that he thinks he rightfully and legally occupies. A colleague at work who once went to the seminary where Paulus had part of his education remembers him as someone who engaged his mentors in constructive argumentation. Paulus was not one a teacher overlooked in class, the colleague says.

Paulus has a baccalaureate in AB English from the University of San Jose-Recoletos.

He took up law at the University of the Visayas (UV) where he also earned his masteral and doctoral degrees. He has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at UV for 15 years. His parents, Luis Cañete Jr. and Dr. Milagros Cañete, had taught at UV, his mom for 42 years.

"Proud Visayanian ko oy!" He said it short of beating his chest.

He understands why Eduardo Gullas, whose family owns UV, through his political allies in Talisay City, is not keen on having him as TCC president despite his UV affiliation. Blame it on politics, Paulus said.

Mayor Johnny V. de los Reyes or JVR has appointed Paulus to the TCC presidency in acting capacity. JVR has gone down in history as the man who beat a Gullas, Eddiegul at that, in an election.

Paulus comes from Mandaue City where political affiliation is as volatile as that in Talisay City. But other than his association with JVR, Paulus said he has no political interest in Talisay City. It is this reason JVR put him in TCC.

It takes him one and a half hours to drive from his residence in Mandaue City to Talisay City. He still runs one of the two MCCs. For the benefit of the confused like me, there is an MCC funded by the Mandaue City Government and run by Dr. Susana Cabahug and another MCC run without government funding by Paulus. This is a long story.

Paulus's involvement in MCC has resulted in Mandaue City having two city colleges. His involvement in the Talisay City College has resulted in having two acting TCC presidents: Bacaltos who was appointed by then mayor Socrates Fernandez, a Gullas guy, and Cañete by the incumbent mayor, who walloped Gullas in the May 2013 elections.

You can never miss Paulus Cañete, not even Richel Bacaltos, who received my text intended for the other acting TCC president.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 03, 2014.


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