My old friend Commodore Gualterio “Terry” Dela Cruz AFP Rtd died last Friday after some months of ill health. The “old sailor”, as he was known to his family, will be sadly missed, not least by me. He was a good friend of many years standing who taught me a lot about the Philippines, its history, culture, politics and coast guard and navy. Importantly, he introduced me to his son, the very aptly named Nelson, who readers of these pages will be very familiar with.
Like his good friend and colleague, Commodore Carlos “Chuck” Agustin PCG Rtd, who also sadly died this year, Terry was a founding officer of the Philippine Coast Guard when it separated from the Philippine Navy during the nineties. They built a fine institution that has really made a difference to their country, particularly with respect to marine safety.
Terry followed a similar course to many naval officers. After graduating in mechanical engineering, he was commissioned in 1963 and served in the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard and in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) until his retirement in 1996.
He carried out many senior assignments including the command of three ships. He was Chief of Staff of the PCG; Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for Comptroller; Commander Patrol Force; and Commander Naval Education and Training Command. A very well-rounded officer, Terry was a 1991 graduate of the Naval Command College of the US Naval War College in Rhode Island.
His naval and coast guard career provided him with a very wide and deep knowledge of the Philippine Archipelago and the wider maritime industry that serves it. In his retirement he served as vice-president, then president of the well-known local shipping and ship building group Herma Shipping, where I first met him.
Terry was a very active and influential member and office bearer of the Philippines’ Maritime League, a uniquely effective and large grouping of senior participants from right across the whole local maritime industry and representing all aspects of it. The PML is an organisation that could be usefully emulated in many other parts of the world.
A quiet, self-effacing but strong and gentlemanly person, Terry achieved much. He will be missed and remembered fondly and appreciatively by many, especially his widow Ellen, his children Mae, John and Nelson, their spouses and his four grandchildren.