Dondon Lanuza: I am now a changed man
|Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza|
MANILA - Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza is now a free man. He owes his new lease on life to family, friends, supporters and even strangers who have kept him inspired in the past 13 years while in prison in Saudi Arabia.
Lanuza said he had lived in fear, in despair and with hopelessness during the uncertain period of his incarceration.
"The knowledge that my life may be snuffed out in an instant has haunted me all throughout my incarceration in prison. I was in this dire situation for 13 years and the flame of hope was about to be extinguished, yet people from all walks of life encouraged me to continue in my journey and race to freedom and, for that, I am truly grateful," Lanuza wrote on the wall of his fourth account on Facebook.
The humbled Lanuza first gave praise to God for bringing people, who continue to inspire him, into his life.
"To my Creator, all the glory is yours! I am now a changed man with a better and more positive outlook in life," he said.
Lanuza also thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and HRH Prince Al Waleed Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company for granting his mother's appeal for financial help.
He likewise expressed his gratitude to the victim's family for "giving me a new lease on life" by their forgiveness.
"My sincerest gratitude for your forgiveness, for sparing my life, for hearing the plea of my loved ones and giving me the chance to be with them again. This I shall forever cherish," he wrote.
Lanuza thanked all the people who have contributed to his cause.
"I am so blessed and humbled because of those faceless men and women who have contributed financially for my cause including the Filipino Community Groups; my unsung heroes, the household workers who did not hesitate in shelling out their hard earned money to help me out; my inmates who, in the midst of their own struggles, managed to share even small amounts of money for my sake; and all the NGOs, institutions, groups, corporate companies and individuals who came to help my cause."
"Thank you to many who provided cellular phone load for me to be able to coordinate with our government offices, media and my family, other supporters and also to those who provided financial help for the education of my stepchildren."
"Thank you to my brothers and sisters in Islamic faith and to all Catholic & Christian religious groups and sects who constantly offered prayers, vigils and masses for my sake," stated Lanuza.
He also cited the tireless efforts of embassy personnel and the Saudi Reconciliation Committee who "intervened on my behalf to the aggrieved family and made it possible for them to forgive me of my wrongdoing".
He went on to thank government officials of both the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.
"Thank you also to President Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay, without your help, my freedom would not have been possible," he said.
Lanuza killed a Saudi Arabian national out of self-defense in 2000. He was sentenced to death the following year.
Aside from bringing his case to the government and concerned authorities both here and in Saudi Arabia, Lanuza also took his predicament to Filipinos all over the world through social media.
"It is with your fervent prayers that God has spared my life. I ask for your understanding and forgiveness if I have failed to mention anyone who in one way or another contributed to my cause. I owe my life to all of you," he said.
"I may not have thanked you personally please bear in mind that you have uplifted a hapless soul and made a big difference in my life. Thank you for your untiring support spiritually, financially and morally".
He also apologized to people he have offended in the past, explaining that there were times when his frustrations turned into anger.
"I am not perfect but I am trying to be a better person. Thank you for not giving up on me," he said.
Lanuza arrived on Thursday afternoon on board an Etihad Airways flight from Saudi Arabia. He was met by his parents, Letty and Edi, at the airport. The family then went home to Sampaloc, Manila to cheering neighbors who also rejoiced his homecoming.
Looking forward, Lanuza hopes that his case is just a beginning of an opportunity to further help other OFWs in distress.
"At last, my ordeal has come to an end. I have finished my race to freedom. I owe my life to God and to all of you," he said.