OFW mom hopes to raise $833K to prevent son’s beheading

Dondon Lanuza: 11 years in a Saudi jail.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Around this time, most Filipino mothers would be thinking of the holiday spread, the gifts to buy, and perhaps the new dress to wear for the Sunday Christmas mass.

Not Letty Lanuza, who has been knocking on people’s hearts, pleading for help so that her son Dondon, 37, will be spared death by beheading in Saudi Arabia. But Letty’s plea is unusual, the amount staggering: Her family needs to raise P35 million (approx. $833K) to secure the release of her son. The amount is what’s being demanded of the family of the man Dondon allegedly stabbed to death 11 years ago.

In this season of giving, a family from Bicol is asking fellow Filipinos to find it in their hearts to give.

“He (Dondon) is one of us, he could be our brother, our father, our cousin, our nephew,” said community and business leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, who is helping the Lanuzas raise the so-called ‘blood money’ by airing Letty’s appeal throughout the global Filipino community. “He does not deserve to die, he needs our help.”

'We're both mothers,' Loida Nicolas Lewis (left) tells Letty Lanuza. Photo by Troi Santos

In appealing to the Filipinos’ ‘bayanihan’ spirit, Loida said whatever amount is raised, the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance will match “dollar for dollar.”

“We can do this,” said Loida. “Tayong mga Pilipino ay maawain. Tumutulong tayo.”

An emotional Letty thanked the Filipinos who have responded with donations totaling P570,000 (approx. $13,570) so far.

“I give my thanks,” she said at a December 3 press conference. “Hindi ko po kaya ito mag-isa.”

How it all started?

While his family was planning to migrate to the U.S., Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza was drawn to the Middle East and chose the road less taken. In 2000, he went to Saudi Arabia and found work as a draftsman. It wasn’t long before he met a member of the royal family, a man Dondon thought could be a good friend. They went out for drinks, and as reports would have it, there was a struggle between the two men. Lurid details aside, Dondon tried to subdue the alleged attacker out of self-defense; the killing was not premeditated.

“I know my son,” said Letty of her second of four children. “It was an accident.”

Once the money is raised and delivered ‘kaliwaan’ style, Letty said her son will be promptly freed and hopefully can join the family in Las Vegas. The release will be arranged by a Reconciliation Committee in Saudi Arabia, with an officer of the Philippine Embassy acting as witness. There is no deadline to fork over the money, but Letty said time is running out. Her son has already lost 11 years of his life.

“He needs to have a chance to have a new life,” she said.

To donate click here. For inquiries, you can reach Letty Lanuza at lettycelestino@gmail.com or Loida Nicolas Lewis at lewisloida@gmail.com. Visit the website helpdondon.com.

Cristina DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm.


  1. […] DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm. (Click here to view original article on Filam.net website) Share this:FacebookEmailPrintShareStumbleUponDiggReddit This entry was posted in Press releases […]

  2. Dhana Mawali wrote:

    alhamdulillah assalamah Ya Brod. DON2X, Congratulation Our Mother With you Ofw made more prayer ALLAH help U, to Us. Also trust to Allah

  3. Max wrote:

    I really like your news blog.

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