The wish of a 74-year-old Australian to bring his four sons to Australia has become viral in social media after a Balikbayan posted a video of him in Facebook.
Rose Eden Battistello of Bacolod City said Ronald Michael Hartigan was married to a wrong woman who does not care anymore about the future of her children.
In the video, Hartigan was shown sitting in a “chicken house” and was with his three boys. It appeared that he was living in squalor with his sons. He said he has been deep in debts with money lenders for his medication.
He claimed that his Filipino wife spent all his money on gambling and drinking, and that she had stopped sending the children to school.
Hartigan, who is already sick and could hardly hear and see, lamented that his sons, the oldest of whom is only 15 years old, will have no future if he dies and they are left in the custody of their mother. Hartigan said he had suffered a massive heart attack and stayed in a hospital for six weeks.
Through netizens, Hartigan hopes to contact his children from his first marriage — Dale John, Tracey Lien, and Nicole — for help. He said the Australian embassy had helped him trace the whereabouts of them but failed to locate them. He said he had provided well for his children.
Battistelello said one of his daughters, now Tracey Sinclair, already responded through Facebook.
Hartigan, who has been in the Philippines for 15 years, said that he could go back to Australia anytime, but that he did not want to leave his four young sons behind. However, he said he does not have the means to bring them back to his country of birth.
“I will not leave my children to suffer and die and stuck to this. If I were to go to Australia, don’t worry about me. I reconcile myself that I’m prepared to die in this country but I would beg for my children. I won’t go without my children, I would rather stay here and die with them,” Hartigan said.
Hartigan said he wanted to bring his wife and children to Australia, but when everything was ready, his wife backed out and wanted to bring along her sister. When he had arranged for it, his wife did not even bother to pick up her passport. The wife, he said, did not want to go to Australia.
“I don’t care about me anymore because my life is drawing to a close. What is my wish? Somebody some help some way my children can get to my country, have a better life than the suffering they have here,” Hartigan appealed.
“People make mistakes in real life, and that was mine but I don’t see why these four children should suffer for my being married to the wrong person,” Hardigan said.
Battistello posted in Facebook that “his only wish is to bring his four sons back to Australia before it’s too late. The kids are all Australian citizens by rights as they are born from an Australian father.”
Battistello, a Filipina married to a foreigner, is a Balikbayan from Australia. She said she chanced upon Hartigan when she found her cousin Bebeng Ramirez whom she had not seen in 35 years. The Hartigans live next door.
“Everybody living in this town knows him, knows the kids, and knows his wife and whatever is going on. A lot of people felt sorry for the children because none of them goes to school and they can hardly eat and have three meals a day,” she said.
She said she is not well off to provide for the immigration of the children to Australia and that she just really wanted to help the father and sons.
“If anyone wants to help please contact me through my Facebook or call my number +63 939 358 2573,” she added.
A GoFundMe campaign was also created for the Hartigan family:http://www.gofundme.com/eec2ug
To respond to those accusing her of scamming people, Battistello posted her video of Hartigan on video sharing site Youtube:http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4tbxu8nXJ2I.
However, Hartigan’s wife denied the accusations and posted photos of her with the children.