this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on August 21, 2003.

Is this normal? Am I insane? I’ve been trying to get over this feeling, but it’s been two years now and I’m still waiting, looking, yearning. Could you help me find the answers?

Okay. Fine. I’ll tell you all about it. It’s like this: Our Papa, he left us. People say that he died. Oh yes, I was there. I even attended his burial and stood right in front of his grave, but was that actually him? That man could be an impostor. I believe he was an impostor.

I can still remember that the night after he “went away,” Papa kissed me on the cheek. I’ve even got imprints of that memory preserved on my brain to prove he actually did, in case you don’t believe me.

That same night, too, I heard him call out my name. It is my task to open the door for him when he comes home in the wee hours of the morning.

There have been nights when I heard him speak to me. Once he even hugged me and told me he loved me very much.

All these incidents confirm my belief that he is still alive. But where could he be?

In case you bump into him, please tell him to come see me at once. A lot has happened since he went missing. It was his ultimate dream for me to go to America. Well, I’ve been there; I even have a picture taken at the Statue of Liberty to show for it. I bet he would show this picture to the whole town, to the mayor even, because he will feel so proud of me.

Oh, by the way, I want to tell him a really funny thing that happened while I was in the United States. Once when I went to Times Square, I believe I saw him there among the huge crowd. After I caught a glimpse of him, I searched frantically for him. The experience was quite exciting. I mean, is it possible to recognize somebody in the midst of one million people? Since I had not seen him for quite a while, I figured he must have gone ahead of me to make sure I knew where I was heading. Unfortunately I couldn’t catch up with him.

Some time after that episode, I learned from my Mom that my cousin had seen Pops the previous night. I must have missed him very badly to imagine that I had actually spotted him among the huge throng on Times Square.

There are a lot of other things I want to tell Papa. Does he know that we already have a CD-Writer? My brothers and I have downloaded some of his favorite songs so that when he comes back, we can start “burning” them. I bet he’d like that. Who doesn’t want free CDs anyway?

I’ve got questions that only he can answer. Like, how does one cook sinaing na tulingan? He makes the best sinaing I have ever tasted, and after he went away we have not tasted anything close to it.

I also want to ask him the name of our neighbor who moved to another place. I happened to share a ride with him in a jeepney and I was quite embarrassed when I couldn’t remember his name.

But above all I want to ask him some very ordinary questions like: How was his day? Was it fun? Was he able to rest? Does he miss us as much as we miss him?

I can’t understand how I’d let the opportunities pass, how I had taken his presence for granted. I wouldn’t have thought about all this if he were here still around. It’s really ironic, don’t you think?

Do you think he knows how much I love him? How much I appreciate everything that he’s done for me, and for our family? How much I want to fulfill all his dreams for me so that I can make him the proudest father ever? Do you think he’ll come back when he finds out how crazy our lives has been since he went away?

Oh, please, I have to see him when Father’s Day comes again next year. I cannot bear spending another Father’s Day without him. I will be very envious of all the other kids who have their dads to spend the whole day with. When he comes back, I’m going to make sure that it will be the grandest celebration ever. And every day from that moment on will be Father’s Day.

My Dearest Papa, I terribly miss you! How I long to see you and hear you talk about the old times. I miss everything about you. I want you to know that I love you and that I was wrong when I said I had told you everything that night. I am sorry. I’ll see you someday.

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