‘It’s a different kind of pain. It’s a lot of questions’

Community News & Features Jul 27, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Eduardo Balaquit,  missing since June 4, 2018

Eduardo Balaquit,
missing since June 4, 2018

Father missing nearly two months in Winnipeg

By Edward Balaquit

On June 4, 2018, Winnipeg resident Eduardo Balaquit left home for his second job of the day as he’s done every day for about 20 years. He never returned. Nearly two months since his disappearance, his family is still looking for answers. His son, Edward, 31, recalls the day his father went missing and talks about staying hopeful in the ongoing search.
As told to Irish Mae Silvestre (edited and condensed for clarity)

My parents, Eduardo and Iluminada ‘Lumie,’ were high school sweethearts from Batangas, Philippines. They got married in Canada and they’ve been here for over 30 years.

As young boys my brother and I would obviously fight but my dad would always let us know that it’s not worth it. He never wanted us to express our anger with violence. If anyone needed any help, he’d probably be the first person to show up. My fiancé and I just got a house and my dad wanted to make sure everything was [as it should be].

He was a hard worker. He always wanted to provide for us, thinking that as long as we didn’t have to deal with the financial stress of anything, he would gladly take the brunt of doing the work for everyone. We never really said he had to do this but it was what he thought he should be doing for his family.

The Balaquit family: Iluminada, Erwin, Eduardo and Edward.  (Photo provided by the family

The Balaquit family: Iluminada, Erwin, Eduardo and Edward.
(Photo provided by the family

During the day, he has a full-time job as a machine operator. When he gets off work at around 4pm, he picks up my mom and comes straight home. They’d have a quick meal together and he’d go on his way. He’s owned a cleaning company for 20 years and has several contracts around town.

He comes home at 10pm or 11pm at the latest. If he’s going to be late, he’ll call and say, ‘I’m coming home late.’ It’s because my mom would always stay up late for him. Since they don’t spend a lot of time together during the day, they spend time together at night before they go to sleep.

But on Monday, June 4, 11pm rolled around but we gave him some leeway. By 11.30pm, it was getting pretty late so my mother and brother tried calling and calling him and nothing. My brother started driving around and nothing came up. He and my mom called me at 3am. Then, since none of the hospitals saw my dad and no tow trucks had seen his vehicle, we made a formal police report.

They sent a police cruiser, they took down some details and let us know it was a missing persons investigation at that point and that they’d be on the lookout for his vehicle. Then the manager of the building where my dad had been working called us to tell us that they found his vehicle behind one of their buildings. The investigation was then handed over to homicide because they saw what looked like foul play.

The search parties in town would reach up to around 200 to over 250 people. When we searched out of town it was a lot smaller. People from out of town that did help were absolutely phenomenal. They provided equipment that generally wouldn’t be available to my family. They had the local knowledge and trucks that brought us from place to place.
Since we weren’t working during the search and without my dad’s income, we started incurring expenses left and right for flyers, food and water. Two weeks into the search, my cousin established a GoFundMe page, which helped relieve some of that stress.

I was a part of all the search parties every day until those persons of interest photos came out (on June 27). The police told us, “Take a break, you guys have done a lot.” But that’s probably the hardest part: taking a break. You start to feel at home searching in those bushes, which is a weird thought. But you felt like you were doing something; sitting down makes the days longer.

After he went missing I’ve been noticing a lot of missing persons cases in Winnipeg. I never knew so many people went missing until my dad went missing. It’s a different kind of pain. It’s a lot of questions and a lot of mixed emotions that you don’t know what to do with. It’s hard to enjoy the things we enjoyed before now that he’s not with us.

My mom is the strongest out of all of us. It’s hard on me and my brother Erwin but for her it’s literally losing the love of her life. You can see the heartbreak in her eyes.
My fiancé and I took a long break from planning our wedding, which is now happening on Saturday (July 28). The consensus within the family was that, regardless of what happened, my dad worked hard to make sure we were happy. Everyone including my mom said, “You know what? Continue.” Hopefully, he’s here before Saturday but, if for some reason he’s not in attendance, I know he would still want me to get married on that day.

I can only trust that the police are doing their jobs. They check in on us to let us know that they’re still working on it.

This hits home for a lot of people because everyone goes to work and expects to come home. We’re still looking for my dad and we’re still hopeful. Someone out there knows something. Everyone knows someone. Someone doesn’t just go missing. Everything that goes missing is misplaced somewhere. So it’s just a matter of time until we find him.

The GoFundMe page: ca.gofundme.com/find-eduardo-balaquit

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Police probe

The Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit continues to investigate the disappearance of Eduardo Balaquit, a 59-year-old male who went missing during the evening of Monday, June 4, 2018. Eduardo is approximately 5’4’ in height, 155 lbs in weight and has a medium build. He is Asian in appearance and has black hair/brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black zip-up sweater, black pants and black shoes. His Dodge Caravan was located in the 300 block of Keewatin Street on June 5, 2018.

Investigators are now asking the public for their help with identifying two individuals. It is believed that they may be able to provide assistance with the investigation.
Anyone that can help identify either of the two pictured individuals is asked to contact the Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS
(8477).

Source: Winnipeg Police Service