Iwa Moto's dad, Hiroaki Iwamoto, hadbeen battling with liver cancer for some time now and his condition had notimproved 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 Japanwith her mother and sister Miki.
"Yunglast time na nakita ko siya, noong college pa ako," Iwa related to Startalk. "'Tapos nun, wala na akongbalita. Nalaman ko na lang na, may sakit na pala siya. Una siyang umalis, threeyears 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 koyung kapatid ko kasi nga pinapapunta kami sa Japan at isang buwan kamingnaka-check in sa hotel. Yun yung last time na nakita ko siya, noong collegeako. ‘Tapos after noon wala na akong balita."
DAD'SCONDITION MORE SERIOUS THAN EXPECTED.After losing communication with her dad, Iwa ventured into show business. Hersuccess in the field hampered her plans to visit her father in Japan, who bythat time, got himself embroiled in a drug-related case in Nagoya. This was notall the bad news Iwa was about to hear.
"Nalaman ko na lang na may sakit na palasiya," Iwa said.
The news came from a non-governmentorganization that helps half-Japanese living here in the Philippines.
"May organization sa Manila na tumutulongsa mga half-Japanese para maging dual citizen," Iwa said. "Di ba may law nangayon na ‘pag half-Japanese ka, puwede ka maging dual citizen kungia-acknowledge ka ng tatay mo."
AHELPING HAND. Masahiro Okuda, chairman of ShinNikkei Jin Support Foundation was thankful that his visit to Iwa's dad in Japanproved fruitful in getting Mr. Iwamoto's signature to validate Iwa and hersister Miki as his children, therefore granting them dual citizenship.
"I was looking for the father," Mr.Okuda related to Startalk. "While Iwas talking to the father, he started crying. He cannot stop since he's alreadysick 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 tohelp his daughters and he signed the papers that would make his daughters citizensof Japan. After doing this, Mr. Okuda went back to the Philippines to help planIwa's visit to her dad. Last week, Iwa, together with her sister Miki andmother Precy, along with other family members, finally flew to Japan to visitthe ailing father in prison.
SCAREDFOR HER FATHER. Iwa was scared about what herfather 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 fightfor his life."
Unfortunately, no cameras were allowedinside 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 touchMr. Iwamoto as they were separated by a thick sheet of glass. Iwa was devastatedat the sight of her father: he was so thin and was wincing in pain every timehe 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'smom could hardly believe that all the medicine Mr. Iwamoto was getting wasjust pain relievers.
IWAGUESTS LIVE AT STARTALK. Iwaguested today in Startalk to give asummarized interview of about what she found out during her stay in Japan. Thealready teary-eyed young star could hardly hold back the tears as sheelaborated her father's ordeal.
First to speak up was Butch Francisco.He asked, "Bakit mo gusto maging dual citizen? Hindi ka ba masaya sa pagigingPinay na lang?"
"Masaya po," Iwa answered. "Pero kalahatipo, e. Hapon talaga ako. ‘Tsaka mas madali sa akin na makakapunta sa Japan paramadalaw ko man lang siya [father]. Makasama ko man lang siya."
"Ano ba sentensya ng father mo? Lifeba?" 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 stressfulfor Iwa, Butch decided to dwell on a lighter one. He asked, "Masama daw loob mosa 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 koawayin. Siya ang nagsabi na huwag sabihin sa amin dahil ayaw niyang mag-alalakami. Pero noong in-explain ng dad ko, e, naintindihan ko na."
Why was her dad not given any propermedication inside the prison?
"Sobrang higpit po doon sa jail, e," Iwasaid. "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."
RENDEREDSPEECHLESS. Iwa related that upon seeing theirfather, she and sister Miki were speechless.
"Pagkakita po namin, e, hindi na kaminakapagsalita 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 ‘pagiiyak kami. Sabi ko, ‘Papa, I love you. Papa, may chance pa. Gusto kitamahawakan at gusto kitang makasama.'"
What did Iwa feel when she was just afew feet away from her father, separated by thick glass?
"Masakit, sobra," a now crying Iwarelated. "Nagmakaawa po kami. Sabi ko na kahit lumuhod ako. Gusto ko lang siyamahawakan. ‘Tapos, sobrang higpit ng jailguard, nagso-sorry na sa amin."
"Ganoon siguro talaga batas sa kanila,"Joey commented.
"Naiintindihan ko naman ang patakarannila," lamented Iwa. "Kaya lang, bilang anak na nangungulila sa amang maysakit, 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 itsuraniya. Every time na nagsasalita siya, e, namimilipit siya sa sakit. Yungfeeling na ganoon na parang hindi mo mahawakan, gusto mong i-comfort. Angsakit, sobra. Sabi niya, ‘Huwag na kayo umiyak.' Kahit namimilipit sa sakit,pinipilit pa rin niya ngumiti."
Were there no more hospitals in the areawilling to take in her father?
"Wala na po," a disappointed Iwa said. "Angsabi po kasi, hopeless na daw po. Ang magagawa na daw po is maghintay atmapahaba 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 sinonaman, kahit sabihin na pinaghandaan nila never naman magiging ready paramawala ang isang tao na mahal mo. Kahit hindi ko kasama dad ko, e, sobrangmahal ko siya."
MESSAGETO DAD. Iwa could barely speak due to hercracking, sobbing voice. But she still managed to say, "Papa, mahal namahal kita. Sana magawan pa ng paraan na mahawakan man lang kita. Alam komahirap ang nararanasan mo, maging strong ka po. Mahal na mahal ka namin."
Ifgiven the choice, would Iwa be willing to give up her career so she could takecare of her father once he's out of jail?
"Opo," Iwa said. "Makasama ko man langsiya sa mga nalalabi pa niyang time. Alam mo yun? Maalagaan ko man lang siya atmaparamdam ko man lang na kahit hindi ko masyado nakasama, anak niya ako atmahal na mahal namin siya ng kapatid ko. Sobrang bait po ng dad ko. Wala akongmasabi kahit ni hindi ko siya nakasama. Kahit na supposedly marami akongisusumbat sa kanya dahil lumaki ako ng wala siya. Pero hindi po, tuwing uuwisiya pinaparamdam niya na kahit malayo siya sa amin, e, mahal na mahal niyakami."