A Mother’s Appeal: “Gerald, come home”

Nanay Aurora Gonzales is stoic. She seldom smiles, and bears a posture of sternness, like a school principal. But all that’s an act. She is a mother, after all. And her eldest son is missing.

Gerald Gonzales boarded a shipping cargo vessel named Iceberg 1 on April 7, 2009. The ship is owned by a Dubai-based company called Azal Shipping & Cargo. Gerald’s manning agency in Manila is Inter-World Shipping Corporation.

On March 29, 2010 at around 2 a.m., Nanay Aurora received a frantic phone call from Gerald. “We’ve been hijacked!” Stunned, the mother was left with a million questions and a phone line that went dead.

Two years have passed and Gerald has yet to make it home. Nanay Aurora and her husband are based in Jaro, Iloilo City. She would dutifully follow up her son’s case with the DFA Regional Office and Inter-World Shipping Company. Her inquiries were met with a standard reply: Azal Shipping is still negotiating with the Somali pirates.

Gerald is the only Filipino left on board Iceberg 1. Her mother is worried about his physical health and conditions. Click on the link below to hear Nanay Aurora’s appeal:

Nanay Aurora’s Appeal

Let us support Nanay Aurora in her family’s lonely battle to bring Gerald home.

Here’s how you can help —

1. Send an e-mail to the following offices to express concern over Gerald’s plight and seek immediate action to secure this seafarer’s freedom:

Department of Foreign Affairs — oumwa@dfa.gov.ph

Inter-World Shipping Corporation — info@inter-worldshippingcorp.com

Azal Shipping & Cargo — azalsc@eim.ae

2. Include Gerald in your prayers. He is just 31 years old and this is his first stint as a seafarer. In one of his SMS to Nanay Aurora, he complained of hunger. That text was sent last year. She has yet to receive any new messages from Gerald since.

3. Share this post with your friends and colleagues. The more emails we send out, the more prayers we offer, the greater chances of Gerald coming home. Pressure must be brought to bear on the shipping company, its local agent, and the DFA to successfully negotiate Gerald’s freedom. They must be made to feel that this isn’t a mother’s quest alone.

For more information about this case, or if you have any information about Iceberg 1 and/or Gerald Gonzales, please contact the Blas F. Ople Center via e-mail: blasoplecenter@hotmail.com or via our hotline: 833-5337. Thank you.

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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