For a young woman in Cebu City, a simple Facebook post written up for her father’s birthday went completely viral.
It’s not the first heartfelt post to a father, thanking him for being fantastic and reflecting on why he should be more appreciated. But for Richie Ann Castillo, the young woman in question, her post was about more than just loving her father—it was about loving him despite a unique situation that she had learned to overcome while growing up.
Her father turned 50 this June, which was cause to celebrate in their family. That’s because her father has Down syndrome, and he’s dealt with a host of health issues over the years—something that she wrote that she’s learned to draw strength and inspiration from even after a difficult journey to accepting him for who he is.
“Dear, Dad,” she wrote. “Today marks a very special and very miraculous moment of your life. You turn 50 today and I am so blessed that you continue to live such a long and beautiful life. Doctors are still amazed by it!”
“I know you won’t be able to read this because I don’t know if you have Facebook, but I want the whole world to know how proud I am that you are my dad. I want the whole world to know how beautiful you are inside and out.”
Dear, Dad. Today marks a very special and very miraculous moment of your life. You turn 50 today and I am so blessed…
She went on to explain that for years, she had been bullied and mocked because her father was “different.” And when she was old enough to realize that it was because of his genetic condition, which causes physical and developmental differences, she wrote that she had been ashamed—and even distanced herself from her father to avoid the bullying.
Now that she’s an adult, though, she wanted to make sure that everyone knew just how proud she truly was.
“I understood this later on and it made me a coward. But you deserve more than the coward daughter that I am. You deserve love, understanding, patience and acceptance as any individual with Down syndrome should. Here I am composing a birthday greeting to you because I’ve never done such a thing. You deserve so much more.”
“Dad, no amount of words can sum up to how sorry I am for being an absent daughter. I’m sorry for not bringing you to the beach more often or I don’t bring you your favorite dimsum [sic] food or I don’t visit you more often than I should. If there is one thing I regret, it is hiding you from my life because I’m still the same little kid who was afraid of getting bullied. But I love you more than you could ever know, Dad and I am inspired by you always.”
The post was shared a whopping 67,000 times in the few days following its upload onto Facebook, with the world reassuring Castillo that she was a fantastic daughter—and that she was doing the right thing by letting everyone know just how much she loves her dad.
“You are blessed, don’t mind what the society says, what important is that you, your Dad and your family is HAPPY and Loved,” one person wrote.