On Counting Numbers Not Chemicals

On Counting Numbers Not Chemicals

September 27, 2014

“I see to it that the flame of public service is alive,” declared Engr. Olivia G. Gulla, who was designated as the Interim Regional Director for Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly NSO), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) effective September 1, 2014.

In spite of criticisms from media organizations, Engr. Gulla makes sure to respond to them as professionally as possible. “After all these things, I made a difference on the things I do,” she added. During her leadership, CAR has been on the top 5 performers in the entire Philippines.

Having graduated Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City, she preferred to work in the National Statistics Office after passing the statistical aide exam given by the Civil Service Commission, first in the field work surveying labor force from house to house in Pangasinan, and then later in La Union where she was given a training at the University of the Philippines Statistics Center at UP-Diliman. “I count numbers not chemicals,” she said.

After this, she worked at the then National Census Statistics Office (NCSO) in Pangasinan, later becoming the National Statistics Office (NSO) and now the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) where her father served as a Regional Director. The National Statistics Office later sent her for her Master of Public Management at the Development Academy of the Philippines where she coined the acronym of her master’s degree MPA as “Makabagong Pampublikong Manggagawa.”
She was sent abroad and had attended seminars on various countries. Among them were in Japan for a seminar on automatic data processing for statistician for four months when data processing was not yet computerized back then; in the USA for a seminar in improving data quality; and in Bangkok, Thailand for a seminar in culture.

This Interim Regional Director for Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly NSO) Cordillera Administrative region is an engineer by profession with a wit in literary.

“I have a passion for writing,” she said. “I write poems. I write my speeches and present them. I write words and use them on my speeches,” she added
Truly, her flair in writing in poem and authorial works and writings for the PSA office includes “The Guideposts for Good Governance” and “The Ten Commandments and Pledge of Commitment” which are seen posted on the premises of the office at PSA Baguio.

An engineer who can do literary works, her staff would jokingly call her Office of the Regional Director as the Office of the Editor-in-Chief. Indeed, because she served as an editor-in-chief of the Cordillera Statistics and gladly assigned herself as the editor-in-chief of the Pangasinan Statistics.

Engr. Gulla is sensitive and visionary.
She envisions to help her community of San Nicholas, Pangasinan, whenever help is needed from her. She offers services on lectures to newly elected officials on leadership. And the reaction was positive, they listened to her, with her so many suggestions.

The mayor of San Nicholas, Pangasinan is her first cousin. “I help him in technical aspects of planning and help him on the background, but not grooming him politically,” she clarified.

Her faith in God, as a UCCP member, has blessed her through the years. In return, she contributes to her church generously and to her relatives. “I don’t earn in dollars but my relatives come to me for help and I have something to give to them every time and then. I do this to reciprocate the kindness of my relatives on my father side who sent me to school. Without them, I could not have been where I am today,” she said.

Of course, life is in all in the up, it has its downs too. But Engr. Gulla stood by the test of times. When she was not with her father for some time, she sent her one sibling to Baguio General Hospital School of Nursing, when tuition was not that yet that high before while she was employed at NSO.

Such times, she was challenged but she was able to put together the missing link of her life. After all, love conquers all. She was reunited with her father.
Disappointments have lessons behind them. One was when she was not able to get the position as a Regional Director for Region 1, because the office did not allow her out of the province. With this, she told herself to be destined to the Cordilleras where she might be needed more.

Single but always blossoming, Engr. Gulla loves mellow music and love songs. She is an avid reader of John Maxwell and Paulo Cuello such as “The Flowering River” and “The Alchemist” among others in her bookshelves at the office, and books, with the theme of leadership on them. She loves gardening ornamental plants and non-pro photography of anything beautiful as subjects.

She served for ten years in La Union Statistics where she calls it her second home. She went home every after two weeks to her place in Pangasinan. She served for 12 years in Pangasinan until January 2002.

After two years in CAR, she was offered a higher position but her working life is devoted to the field office. Besides, she does know whether she could perform with a broader work critical position, legal planning, personnel, budget, account – all at the same time.
As a Regional Director, Engr. Gulla has the following duties and responsibilities: 1. manage and oversee the transition of the statistical, civil registration and administrative operations of the former NSCB, NSO, and BAS in the region; 2. Direct and supervise the activities under her area of reprehensibility; and 3. Report on the activities of the region.
In a particular view from one of her staff Ms. Luz Ruiz, she describes Engr. Gulla as energetic, systematic, intelligent, dedicated, and a performer. “She always has a goal to be on the top. She encourages her staff skills training. She is transparent with funds. She makes sure funds are given to the province where it was allotted to. She follows up on her staff even during non working days. She sets management conferences. She checks on your weaknesses and pushes you up at work. She has initiative. She is not bossy. She checks everything required of you. She makes sure paper works are flawless of grammar errors and even the structure. You learn from her.” Ms. Ruiz asserted.

Perform beyond the call of duty is the core philosophy of Engr. Gulla. She mandates PSA-CAR, Baguio City with the “Ten Commandments on Guideposts for Good Governance she formulated as follows: 1. Exhibit a good work ethic as espoused by organization policies and civil service rules and regulations; 2. Be a good steward of resources entrusted to you for if you cannot be trusted with little things, how much more with bigger things; 3. Share what you know for “passing on the light” is a worthy cause that cause benefits to others; 4. Question Paradigms, if necessary, and innovate to improve existing systems; 5. Invest in capability building initiatives to add to personnel and to organization values; 6.Network with other organizations and touch base with the grassroots as part of social responsibility and institution image building; 7. Apply team work in programmed/over-and-above activities always mindful that there is no “I” in the word “team”; 8. Serve customers well for a public office is not only a public trust but also a sacred duty; 9. Listen to the voices of other people and of yourself before you decide or act; and 10. Above all, seek the guidance of the Divine Providence in all your ways.

Energetic at 62, Engr. Olivia Gacoscos Gulla was born on August 17, 1952 in San Nicholas, Pangasinan. She has attended 18 seminars. She has presented 24 papers and other presentations. She was 2006 semi-finalist, CSC PAG-ASA Awards. She was a top notcher on a Civil Registration Training Course in 1994. She is accredited on civil registration./By: Ezequiel D. Banas-e


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