“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.”
By Alex P. Vidal
WITH the Internet and other high modern technology, it’s impossible he didn’t learn about his daughter’s gigantic conquest in the world of beauty pageant wherever he is today.
It’s impossible he didn’t read the news, a national sensation in the Philippines, unless he is now in the Kingdom Come.
Since the day his very talented daughter clinched the crown, she was never remiss in announcing to all and sundry how proud she was of her “missing” father who left her, her brother and mother when she was five in 2001.
Before leaving for the United States in April to represent the Philippines in the world’s most prestigious beauty contest, she feverishly told the country she was excited to meet her father, a surgeon, believed to have relocated in Chicago a long time ago.
The public was animated and enthralled by the potential soap opera-like would-be “reunion” between daughter and father.
The much-awaited meeting had been emblazoned in the people’s mind to be the trip’s “side event” regardless of the results of the competition in Florida.
Those who followed the saga were on the edge of their seats starting the day the vivacious beauty titlist left the Philippines a month before the universal competition.
So bewitched were some entertainment scribes they reckoned two stories would be bombshells: the dramatic father and daughter meeting and the possible crowning of another Filipina beauty in the tough global competition hosted by Florida amid the pandemic.
Some avid fans and countrymen bombarded heaven with prayers not only for her victory, but also for the much-anticipated father-daughter reunification.
She had an almost two-month extended tour in the United States after the pageant meeting well-wishers, attending fund-raising events and gracing the invitations from Filipino communities and embassy officials.
After the smoke was cleared, no word about the father and daughter meeting.
Not even a detailed report; no how, where, when.
Only a why. A big why or a forlorn question mark.
She arrived in the Philippines first week of July and yielded negative details about the much-ballyhooed would-be meeting, which turned into a mystery if not a dud.
Was she at fault? Certainly not.
Although there was no prior arrangement or tacit agreement between father and daughter to meet in the United States, she only had all the best plans and intentions to see once more her inscrutable father, believed to be living with a new family.
A stranger in Uncle Sam’s territory, she has no capability to altogether crisscross the East and West Coasts on her own volition just to locate a seemingly enigmatic father even if she’s a VIP.
The nagging question is: where the hell are you, father?
Why didn’t he spare some precious moments to meet a loving and caring daughter he abandoned 20 years ago and who painstakingly went out her way to reach him to no avail?
She was already within his radar geographically; but they both ended up “so near and yet so far.”
Other fathers in the same circumstance and magic moment would have paddled their canoe into the River Styx to meet, embrace and kiss a “long-lost” daughter, a treasure in her country.
But “not” this reticent father.
Did he intend to avoid his own flesh and blood? Was he under duress? Better still, is he still alive?
If yes he intentionally dodged the possible meeting and is still very much alive and kicking, why blew away the golden opportunity to show warmth and affection to a daughter he left behind when she was a kid?
Where is his heart? What kind of father he is?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)