If you will ever get a chance to send a letter to your deceased father in heaven this Father’s Day, what will you tell him?


Are you going to ask what he is up to? Will you tell him that you are doing okay despite longing for his presence? Or will you cry your heart out and wish to spend this special day with him.

Father’s day is probably one of the saddest occasions that people who have already lost their dad are not looking forward to.

Some celebrate this by going out with them or even their whole family to spend the day creating memories that they will cherish forever. Others simply greet them and prepare a nice meal to enjoy together.

For many, this is the day when they are being reminded that the person celebrated on this occasion will no longer be by their side forever.

Despite suffering from mild stoke, Jhoena’s “tatay” still chose to dance with her during her 18th birthday celebration. It was their last dance together. (Photo from Jhoena Santillan)

Lolo’s girl

Twenty-six-year-old Jhoena Santillan, who is a proud “lolo’s girl,” can still recall her favorite moments with her grandfather who stood up as a father figure for her while growing up.

“Every Sunday morning, we used to listen to the radio and dance to random tunes. Tatay instantaneously becomes playful and dances cha-cha,” Jhoena shared in a mix of English and Filipino.

Leonardo Sabater Sr., her grandfather, died in 2016 at the age of 61 after suffering from cardiac arrest. Jhoena was raised by him and her grandmother who passed away in 2020.

He was overprotective of Jhoena, but it did not hinder her from having a happy childhood since he acted as her first best friend who also nurtured and loved her until his last moments.

“He asks me stories about how my day went to lighten up my mood whenever he notices that I’m stressed from work. I can’t help but feel emotional whenever my birthday is coming since we used to always spend that day together. He was the one who woke me up and completed my birthday by gifting me some puppies or dogs,” shared Jhoena.

Six years went by but Jhoena said that the pain of letting him go remains and may be meant to stay forever.

“It always feels like I’m starting over again, my world has changed in an instant because he was by my side all my life,” she said.

The first Father’s Day without him was the hardest as it has only been two months after his sudden death and their family was still in shock.

“I remember that time when I told mama (lola) if we could ‘just forget that today’s Father’s Day’ because I can’t treat that day as it is. I also knew that no one in the family wanted to celebrate,” she recalled.

She never forgets to visit his grave even on ordinary days. This Father’s Day, Jhoena has a message for her “tatay” whom she dearly misses every day.

“Hi itay, how are you doing there in a better place? I’m happy that you’re no longer feeling any pain and difficulty and you’re now reunited with mama (lola). I always think of you as our memories together were so beautiful, if only I could do everything just to experience those again and have more I will do. Wherever you are I would like to let you know that all of your advice was correct, I’m sorry that your granddaughter is stubborn.

“You taught me to be strong and I’m trying my very best, I hope by this time you are proud of me for conquering life. I know I’ll always have your back and I wanted to tell you how much I’m missing you every day. I love you, thank you so much for being my ‘tatay’ and Happy Father’s day.”

One of Gerlie and her father’s last photos together. “You will always be loved and remembered. Thanks, Dad,” said Gerlie. (Photo from Gerlie Galagate)

Thanks, Dad

Gerlie Galagate lost her father, Geronimo Galagate Jr, on Jan. 19, 2022, due to septic shock. Her father was 66 years old.

Her relationship with him was very casual as he was an introvert who liked to just observe and keep his thoughts on his own. “We’re not very close, not until he showed early signs of dementia and got bedridden in 2020,” Gerlie shared.

Sadly, it was already too late to rekindle their relationship due to his deteriorating condition. He was declared comatose a day before he died.

It has only been six months after his death and Gerlie tries to bravely face each day through prayer and with the comforting thought that his father is no longer suffering from any pain. This is going to be the first Father’s Day that Geronimo is no longer by her side.

“He wouldn’t come back no matter how hard I cry or dwell on my regrets. I think I’m already slowly accepting that he’s no longer really no longer with us,” Gerlie said.

Gerlie wanted to send a heartfelt message to her beloved father this Father’s Day.

“Pa, first of all, thank you for giving life to me, and for loving, caring, and making sure that I finish my studies. I’m sorry for my shortcomings as a daughter. I wasn’t even able to show you or make you feel how much I loved you. I also failed to give back for all of your hard work.

“I hope that you can forgive me for the time that I suffered from depression, even if you didn’t tell me I know that it’s the reason you also got depressed yourself. I want to make it up to you but I know it’s too late.

“I love you so much, Pa. I didn’t dream of anything else aside from giving you and mama a comfortable life. I wish you happiness and peace wherever you are right now.”

Taken in 2013, this is one of the few photos left of Arjay’s father. (Photo from Arjay Laguerta)

Moving on

Arjay Laguerta, a 26-year-old teacher, and his family were living a happy and contented life despite their financial struggles until his father, Ariel Laguerta, was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in 2013. At that time, the older Laguerta was told by his doctor that he has only one year left to live.

“That’s the time when it seemed like the world fell apart. But we didn’t think that he would be gone too soon as we’re hoping for a miracle to happen,” he recalled.

Despite the bad news, Arjay and their whole family did everything to remain strong and acted as their father’s source of strength to fight his disease.

“Papa was a jolly person and the joker in our family. He used to always prepare our breakfast before going to school, as well as bring and fetch us after class. The best father ever for me,” he shared.

One of Arjay’s fondest memories with him was a heartfelt apology after a small misunderstanding, he found it surprising since his father was not expressive of his love and emotions through words.

“He vented out his anger towards me and then apologized the following morning. He said, ‘nak, let’s eat and I’m sorry for what I’ve said last night,’ I literally cried because of what he uttered,” Arjay shared.

Ariel lost the battle and died in 2014 at the young age of 47.

“We’re all beside him at the moment he died so it hurt a little more because we saw that he was already struggling yet still fighting for his life,” he shared. “We’re taking good care of our mother so dad wouldn’t worry about her,” he added.

Years have passed and Arjay was able to fulfill his father’s dream for him of finishing his studies and having a comfortable life. This Father’s Day, Arjay shares a short message for this dad whom he loves and remembers every single day.

“Hi Papa, it’s been eight years since you left. You know how much I love you. I hope that you’re always happy there with God and my brother. Don’t worry about us as we’re happy and loving each other here. Happy father’s day papa I love you!”

Indeed, the grief of losing a father does not go away, people just learn to live with it.

Some words may be left unsaid but hold on to the hope that they are listening and watching you from above.

May everyone who is having a difficult time celebrating this Father’s Day remember that their love and memories with their dads are what will keep them alive in their hearts forever. (Luisa Cabato)

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2022/06/19/how-are-you-there-in-heaven-dad/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-are-you-there-in-heaven-dad)