Dondon Lanuza told: Now you give back
MANILA – Even before he arrived home, pardoned overseas Filipino worker Rodelio 'Dondon' Lanuza's goal was already set: to give back to others the same blessings he received during the lowest period in his life.
This was also the same message that Filipino-American philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis gave Lanuza during their brief phone conversation on Thursday night.
"Now, you give back. isipin mo anong gusto mong gawin and then also give back pag humihingi ng tulong," said Lewis.
Lewis was overjoyed upon hearing, for the first time, Lanuza's voice.
"First time that I'm speaking to you on the phone, yun ang nakakaiyak!" said Lewis.
The two have been communicating in the past only through text messaging.
"Kahapon lang po, Tita, magkausap tayo nasa loob pa ako ng kulungan pero ngayon nandito na ako sa Sampaloc. Imagine!" he said.
Lanuza told Lewis how grateful he is of her help and continuous guidance during the time he was in jail in Saudi Arabia.
"Thank you, Tita. Hindi ninyo po ako pinabayaan. I'm hoping to see you very soon," he said.
Lewis became instrumental in the campaign to raise funds for Lanuza in the United States as well as in the Philippines in order to complete the blood money needed to save the OFW's life.
Lanuza said he already considers the Fil-Am philanthropist as his second mother, taking to heart all the advice that she offered him.
"You have a good mother and everybody was praying for you," she said.
On his Facebook account, Lanuza described Lewis as the "final catalyst" for his case who was "the moving hand towards my appeal to influential and common people alike to push my case forward".
"Ganyan tayong mga Pilipino. When you help, you help 100 percent. And you know, ang nanay mo, she never lost faith. Ganun din ako. I never lost faith," Lewis said.
Lanuza was sentenced to death in 2001 for killing a Saudi Arabian national out of self-defense. He was pardoned after paying the equivalent of P35 million to the victim's family.
The money came from donations, including the contributions from the Philippine government. The Lanuzas are also thankful to Saudi King, His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, for shouldering the bulk of the remaining blood money.
"Nothing is impossible with God. Dondon, kapit sa Diyos," Lewis said. With a report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News