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Rabiya Mateo still hopes to find her father who left them when she was 5

Rabiya Mateo still hopes to find her father who left them when she was 5

Before Rabiya Mateo became Miss Universe Philippines, she went through several challenges in life, including growing up without a father.

In a “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” episode on Sunday, the beauty queen said she was raised by her mother since her Indian father left them when she was just five years old.

Rabiya said her mother graduated with a degree in commerce and went on to become a physical therapist, but got pregnant.

“Hirap na hirap po talaga financially kaya sabi ko kailangan ko talaga tulungan si mama. Hindi na po ako mahihiyang magsabi, nangungutang po siya sa ibang tao kapag naso-short kami. Kaya namulat din po ako na, sinabi ko na kung magiging tamad ako, kung hindi ko gagalingan sa pag-aaral, buong buhay namin baka iyong danasin namin at hindi po pupuwede iyon," she added.

("We really had a hard time financially, that’s why I said I’d help my mom. I’m not ashamed to say it. My mom would even borrow money from other people. That’s why I said if I would be lazy, if I wouldn’t do well at school, we’d stay where we were all our lives and that was unacceptable")

According to Rabiya’s mother, her father, an American citizen with Indian heritage, had to take a licensure exam for medicine in the US. But he never returned.

Rabiya said since he was studying medicine, the plan was to take the test in Chicago and bring them there when he graduates.

She also said her father used to send them financial support, until it suddenly stopped.

“Tapos si mama, naalala ko po talaga ito maliit pa kami, pumunta kami sa apartment ng kapatid ni daddy. Tapos pagdating namin doon sa apartment, wala na rin po ’yung mga kapatid ni daddy (I remembered going to the apartment of my dad’s sibling. When we got there, his sibling was gone too). So it was a plan to leave us behind,” she recalled.

“Siguro mas doon ako nanghihinayang, sa fact na kung si daddy siguro nandito, hindi kami maghihirap, hindi namin kailangan pagdanasan na maputulan ng kuryente, na nahirapan kami para pag-aralin ni mama,” Rabiya said.

("I’ve always thought that maybe if my dad was with us, we wouldn’t be poor, we wouldn’t experience getting our electricity cut off, Mama wouldn’t have a hard time sending us to school")

Despite the pain of being left behind, Rabiya said her mother never blamed her father. When they were having a hard time studying, her mother would remind them how hard their father had it while he was studying medicine.

Instead of living in hatred, Rabiya said she chose to be inspired and motivated.

“Sinasabi ko na kailangan ko talagang mag-aral nang mabuti. Kailangan mag-graduate ng cum laude kasi kapag nakita ako ni Daddy, I’m sure magiging proud talaga siya (I told myself I had to study well. I had to graduate cum laude so when Daddy sees me, he’d be proud of me),” she added.

The search for dad

Until now, Rabiya said she’s still looking forward to the day when she’ll meet her father again.

Revealing that she tried looking for him at one point, the beauty queen said: “My dad’s name po is Syed Mohammed Abdullah Moqueet Irfan Hashmi and alam ko po ‘yung  birthday niya is May 22 (My dad’s name is Syed Mohammed Abdullah Moqueet Irfan Hashmi and I know his birthday is on May 22). And the last time I heard is he’s in Chicago with his family. Kasama niya ang mother niya, ang dad niya, ’yung dalawa niyang sibling, si Tito Rizmon and si Tito Imran. (He’s with his mother, his dad, his two siblings, Tito Rizmon, and Tito Imran).”

When Rabiya was in college, she would send messages to random people on social media with the last name Hashmi and living in Chicago.

“I tried my best to look for him pero wala po talaga eh. Pero hindi ko alam. Ramdam ko kasi na deep down in my heart na one of these days magkikita kami ni daddy (I tried my best to look for him but I was never successful. But I don’t know. I feel deep down in my heart, one of these days, I’ll meet my father),” Rabiya said.

“And with Miss Universe nga, sabi ko thank you talaga Lord kasi binigay mo ’to sa akin, kasi hindi lang mai-improve ang life ng family ko sa Iloilo, pero pati chance ko na rin ’to para ma-reconnect sa biological dad ko.”

("The Miss Universe Philippines title will help improve my family’s life in Iloilo, and it can also increase my chances of reconnecting with my father.")

Although she has no other information about him, at least now, Filipinos know about him too.

“Gusto ko lang po talaga na malaman kung my dad is okay,” Rabiya said.

("I just really want to know if my dad is okay.")

“And so sana, sana talaga through KMJS makita niya at malaman niya ’yong anak niya na Miss Universe Philippines na (And I hope that through KMJS, he sees and finally learns that his daughter is crowned as Miss Universe Philippines).” – Kaela Malig/RC/LA, GMA News

In case you have any leads on Rabiya's father, please message KMJS' Facebook page.