Eduardo Balaquit would have turned 60 on April 9. He went missing on June 4, 2018 and has not been found since. (Winnipeg Police handout)

Updated: June 9,2019, 10:00 AM

Manitoba

Eduardo Balaquit

 “It doesn’t get easier” – son

By Ted Alcuitas

The son of a Winnipeg man missing one year ago says it doesn’t get easier as the days go by without their father.

”You know, people ask if it gets easier. No, it doesn’t get easier. You’re still missing someone in your life that shouldn’t be missing,” Edward Balaquit told media.

His dad, Eduardo, disappeared a year ago in June 2018 and police said they’re looking for a blue SUV they say is of interest in Balaquit’s 2018 disappearance.

Eduardo Balaquit’s family last heard from him on June 4, 2018. (Edward Balaquit/Facebook)

Balaquit, 59, was last seen between 6 and 9 p.m. on June 4, 2018, near 380 Keewatin St., where he was supposed to be doing his regular janitorial work. His van was found nearby the next day with the passenger window smashed in, a cellphone on the seat and personal belongings inside.

Police conducted an extensive search in the area of Arborg, Man. — about 115 kilometres north of Winnipeg — last summer.

Police believe the vehicle was in the 380 Keewatin area when Balaquit arrived for work and was likely in Arborg on June 4, 2018.

Last fall, Winnipeg police said that Eduardo was “very likely” a homicide victim. Now, investigators referred to him as a “victim of crime.”

Police are once again asking people in Winnipeg and Arborg to come forward with any information they think might help.

“We’re just going to continue on and working hard,” said Sgt. McDonald.”I know that we have a lot of homicides this year, but every one, we’re always working on.”

Edward Balaquit, Eduardo’s son, said he had never been to Arborg before, but his family received a warm welcome there during searches last year.

“The community there, it kind of came together for us — offered us a building and some of them had equipment, like quads and everything, that we didn’t have access to,” Edward said last week, in the days leading up to the anniversary of his father’s disappearance.

“It’s an area we weren’t too familiar with, so I was happy that we met some good people that were able to help us through.”

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Edward Balaquit says he thinks of his dad every day. His 59-year-old father, Eduardo Balaquit, went missing June 4, 2018. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Last week, walking up to the site where his dad’s van was found, Edward Balaquit was quiet. The spot is beside the business Eduardo was working at — removed from Keewatin Street traffic.

Edward hadn’t been in the spot since last summer, after the initial searches.

His dad would not have parked the van so far away from where he was working, he said.

“I’m not even sure what I feel right now,” he said as he walked over the parking spot. The pavement is cracked and the parking spot lines are slightly faded.

“It’s hard to find the words”, he told CBC News.

The last time Edward and his family actively searched for his dad was in Arborg last July. He said police eventually told them to take a break, according to CBC News.

“We were going for 22 hours a day of searching. There were some days that my brother and I ended up not even sleeping without realizing,” he said.

“I’m sure [police] have their leads and they wanted us to just, you know, get better. And when we see our dad, I’m sure he would want us to be healthy.”

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Edward Balaquit looks at where his father’s van was last seen. He says this parking lot is far from where his dad would normally park. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

‘It’s pretty heartbreaking’

The Balaquit family keeps active online. Edward’s cousin runs a Facebook group called “Help find Eduardo Balaquit,” with regular posts, reminding people to keep an eye out and report anything they might know to police.

Edward said his dad’s disappearance is especially hard on his mom, who had been with his dad since high school in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada with him decades ago.

“For someone that’s been with you pretty much your whole life to disappear, it’s pretty heartbreaking. I mean, it was hard for us; I can’t imagine for my mom.”

Since his dad’s disappearance, Edward has gotten married and started to work on his first house with his wife. His father hoped to help them with landscaping, a deck and a fence.

“You know, people ask if it gets easier. No, it doesn’t get easier. You’re still missing someone in your life that shouldn’t be missing,” Edward said.

According to the CBC, the Balaquit family keeps in almost-weekly contact with Winnipeg Police investigators.

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Edward Balaquit holds up his father Eduardo Balaquit’s pendants, including a gold crucifix. He’s worn them every day since Eduardo went missing one year ago. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

As he looks at the spot where his dad’s van was found, Edward touches the three pendants he wears around his neck. He says he wears them to feel connected to his father.

“This is actually a cross that he owns. He had a few,” he says, touching his dad’s small gold crucifix.

“My brother and I have one now. I just want to keep a part of him with me.”

Eduardo Balaquit is five-foot-four, 155 pounds and has a medium build. He was wearing a black zip-up sweater, black pants and black shoes when he was last seen.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact police at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.