Iwa Moto's dad, Hiroaki Iwamoto, had been battling with liver cancer for some time now and his condition had not improved due to the poor medical facilities of the prison where he is currently confined for a drug-related case. His health declined and Iwa, who was not informed until only the last minute, went to Japan with her mother and sister Miki.
"Yung last time na nakita ko siya, noong college pa ako," Iwa related to Startalk. "'Tapos nun, wala na akong balita. Nalaman ko na lang na, may sakit na pala siya. Una siyang umalis, three years old pa lang ako. Noong bumalik siya, matanda na ako, mga nine, ten [ang] edad, ganun. ‘Tapos college, nandito na ako sa Manila. Dumating siya at pinakuha ko yung kapatid ko kasi nga pinapapunta kami sa Japan at isang buwan kaming naka-check in sa hotel. Yun yung last time na nakita ko siya, noong college ako. ‘Tapos after noon wala na akong balita."
DAD'S CONDITION MORE SERIOUS THAN EXPECTED. After losing communication with her dad, Iwa ventured into show business. Her success in the field hampered her plans to visit her father in Japan, who by that time, got himself embroiled in a drug-related case in Nagoya. This was not all the bad news Iwa was about to hear.
"Nalaman ko na lang na may sakit na pala siya," Iwa said.
The news came from a non-government organization that helps half-Japanese living here in the Philippines.
"May organization sa Manila na tumutulong sa mga half-Japanese para maging dual citizen," Iwa said. "Di ba may law na ngayon na ‘pag half-Japanese ka, puwede ka maging dual citizen kung ia-acknowledge ka ng tatay mo."
A HELPING HAND. Masahiro Okuda, chairman of Shin Nikkei Jin Support Foundation was thankful that his visit to Iwa's dad in Japan proved fruitful in getting Mr. Iwamoto's signature to validate Iwa and her sister Miki as his children, therefore granting them dual citizenship.
"I was looking for the father," Mr. Okuda related to Startalk. "While I was talking to the father, he started crying. He cannot stop since he's already sick as well. I told him, ‘If you could write, you could sign these papers. Because these are for the two daughters.'"
Hiroaki reportedly was eager to help his daughters and he signed the papers that would make his daughters citizens of Japan. After doing this, Mr. Okuda went back to the Philippines to help plan Iwa's visit to her dad. Last week, Iwa, together with her sister Miki and mother Precy, along with other family members, finally flew to Japan to visit the ailing father in prison.
SCARED FOR HER FATHER. Iwa was scared about what her father was going through with his illness. She told Startalk, "A friend of mine died a week ago dahil sa liver cancer. Nakita ko kung papaano siya nahihirapan. Sa lagay na yun ginagamot pa siya. E, alam mo yun, ang papa ko, hindi man lang siya pinagbibigyan ng chance to fight for his life."
Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside the jail as Iwa and the whole family went inside to finally meet Mr. Iwamoto. Due to strict measures in jail, they were not allowed to hold or touch Mr. Iwamoto as they were separated by a thick sheet of glass. Iwa was devastated at the sight of her father: he was so thin and was wincing in pain every time he spoke. He was so much in pain that he could hardly sit up in his chair. Because of this, their supposed meeting of 10 minutes was cut shorter. Iwa's mom could hardly believe that all the medicine Mr. Iwamoto was getting was just pain relievers.
IWA GUESTS LIVE AT STARTALK. Iwa guested today in Startalk to give a summarized interview of about what she found out during her stay in Japan. The already teary-eyed young star could hardly hold back the tears as she elaborated her father's ordeal.
First to speak up was Butch Francisco. He asked, "Bakit mo gusto maging dual citizen? Hindi ka ba masaya sa pagiging Pinay na lang?"
"Masaya po," Iwa answered. "Pero kalahati po, e. Hapon talaga ako. ‘Tsaka mas madali sa akin na makakapunta sa Japan para madalaw ko man lang siya [father]. Makasama ko man lang siya."
"Ano ba sentensya ng father mo? Life ba?" Lolit asked.
"Hindi ko alam," Iwa answered. "Nagkaroon nga po ng problema na may drug something na... I don't know."
Sensing that the topic was too stressful for Iwa, Butch decided to dwell on a lighter one. He asked, "Masama daw loob mo sa stepmother mo dahil hindi pinaalam agad na may liver cancer ang papa mo?"
"At first, oo galit ako," Iwa admitted. "Then pinagalitan ako ng dad ko noong nagkita kami. Sabi niya na huwag ko awayin. Siya ang nagsabi na huwag sabihin sa amin dahil ayaw niyang mag-alala kami. Pero noong in-explain ng dad ko, e, naintindihan ko na."
Why was her dad not given any proper medication inside the prison?
"Sobrang higpit po doon sa jail, e," Iwa said. "Hindi nga namin nahawakan dad namin, e."
"Hindi pinapagamot?" Lolit asked.
"Meron silang doctor pero it's not enough. Mga ganoon grabing case, e, sa hospital talaga."
RENDERED SPEECHLESS. Iwa related that upon seeing their father, she and sister Miki were speechless.
"Pagkakita po namin, e, hindi na kami nakapagsalita ng kapatid ko," Iwa said. "Iyak na po kami nang iyak. ‘Tapos, unang sinabi niya sa akin, e, huwag na kaming umiyak. Malulungkot daw siya ‘pag iiyak kami. Sabi ko, ‘Papa, I love you. Papa, may chance pa. Gusto kita mahawakan at gusto kitang makasama.'"
What did Iwa feel when she was just a few feet away from her father, separated by thick glass?
"Masakit, sobra," a now crying Iwa related. "Nagmakaawa po kami. Sabi ko na kahit lumuhod ako. Gusto ko lang siya mahawakan. ‘Tapos, sobrang higpit ng jailguard, nagso-sorry na sa amin."
"Ganoon siguro talaga batas sa kanila," Joey commented.
"Naiintindihan ko naman ang patakaran nila," lamented Iwa. "Kaya lang, bilang anak na nangungulila sa amang may sakit, e, gusto ko siyempre na mahawakan man lang ang papa ko. Wala talaga, e. As in, nakatingin lang kami ‘tapos hindi ko ma-imagine na ganoon na itsura niya. Every time na nagsasalita siya, e, namimilipit siya sa sakit. Yung feeling na ganoon na parang hindi mo mahawakan, gusto mong i-comfort. Ang sakit, sobra. Sabi niya, ‘Huwag na kayo umiyak.' Kahit namimilipit sa sakit, pinipilit pa rin niya ngumiti."
Were there no more hospitals in the area willing to take in her father?
"Wala na po," a disappointed Iwa said. "Ang sabi po kasi, hopeless na daw po. Ang magagawa na daw po is maghintay at mapahaba ng kaunti. Wala na daw talagang cure kaya ayaw siyang tanggapin. Kumalat na daw yung cancer cells."
Is she ready for her father's fate?
"Hindi pa," Iwa sobbed. "Kahit sino naman, kahit sabihin na pinaghandaan nila never naman magiging ready para mawala ang isang tao na mahal mo. Kahit hindi ko kasama dad ko, e, sobrang mahal ko siya."
MESSAGE TO DAD. Iwa could barely speak due to her cracking, sobbing voice. But she still managed to say, "Papa, mahal na mahal kita. Sana magawan pa ng paraan na mahawakan man lang kita. Alam ko mahirap ang nararanasan mo, maging strong ka po. Mahal na mahal ka namin."
If given the choice, would Iwa be willing to give up her career so she could take care of her father once he's out of jail?
"Opo," Iwa said. "Makasama ko man lang siya sa mga nalalabi pa niyang time. Alam mo yun? Maalagaan ko man lang siya at maparamdam ko man lang na kahit hindi ko masyado nakasama, anak niya ako at mahal na mahal namin siya ng kapatid ko. Sobrang bait po ng dad ko. Wala akong masabi kahit ni hindi ko siya nakasama. Kahit na supposedly marami akong isusumbat sa kanya dahil lumaki ako ng wala siya. Pero hindi po, tuwing uuwi siya pinaparamdam niya na kahit malayo siya sa amin, e, mahal na mahal niya kami."