On Sunday night, 23-year-old Richie Anne Castillo took to her Facebook to mark a "very special and very miraculous moment" of her father Richard Castillo's life, who has Down syndrome
"Dear, Dad ...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," Richie wrote on her post.
Posted on 2 June, the young Filipino woman's post has garnered over 215k reactions and has more than 67k shares at the time of writing this SAYS story on 6 June.
"...you deserve more than the coward daughter that I am."
Richie admits to being a "coward" after she came to understand her dad's condition.
"Dad, it took me so many years before I gathered enough courage to face everyone because not all may know the whole truth because it is quite confusing.
"Back in grade school, I would be picked on and bullied because they said you were different. As a kid I didn't see you as different, I saw you as my dad.
I didn't understand why they were making fun of me and calling me abnormal. 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 an 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," she wrote in her post.
She went on to highlight how her dad is "the bravest human being" she knows, how his "trust in the Lord" allowed him to put a smile on his face and how she "cannot imagine putting myself" in his shoes
"You are the strongest because, after all those surgeries, procedures and nights at the hospital, you managed to say 'I'm not afraid because I trust in the Lord'.
"You always put a smile on your face after a long day at the dialysis centre, or after a hypoglycemic episode. You are the bravest because you have been through so much and you have never been afraid. I cannot imagine putting myself in your shoes.
"I have seen you at your worst when you would break down and say that you are tired. Hearing those words 'Kapoy na. (I’m tired)' or 'Sakit kaayo. (It really hurts)' made me cry for days and I couldn’t bear going back to the hospital anymore.
"I have seen you cry because your knee would hurt because of the fluid. I can’t feel your pain but how I wish I could take your place so you wouldn’t have to feel any pain anymore. You lost your teeth, but that never bothered you or kept you from eating the food that you love," Richie, who is an only child, wrote.
The 23-year-old then apologised to her dad, saying "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...
"...I don't bring you your favourite dim sum 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," Richie confessed in her post.
She said that while she regrets hiding him from his life, she loves him "more than you could ever know, Dad, and I am inspired by you always."
She thanks her dad for making her strong and brave, saying "I think I'm big enough now to defend myself from the bullies"
"Thanks for always calling me your one and only baby girl because I always will be.
"I am strong and brave because of you and I love you so much, dad. I think I’m big enough now to defend myself from the bullies. Lots of love, your daughter."