Lyka Bernas, a young Filipino woman who vanished without a trace, last December.
JESSE RAMDEO

There is a call from halfway around the world, for the safe return of Lyka Bernas, a young Filipino woman who disappeared in this country last year. In an interview with Guardian Media, Amelia Bernas Salvador, Lyka’s aunt explained just how hopeless the family has felt since she vanished without a trace, last December.

“We have not been able to eat or sleep.  When we do rest, most of our dreams are about her and she appears to be in pain and she’s asking for help,” Lyka’s aunt said.

From her home in the Philippines, Amelia Bernas Salvador described the pain in grappling with the 29-year-old’s sudden disappearance.

“We are very very afraid about her safety.  It is nearly one month now, and it is even more difficult for us since we are so far away and cannot do as much as we want. There was no Christmas or New Year celebration because of how worried we are over Lyka,” she said.

Salvador said she raised Lyka from an infant until she was eight years old and was particularly close to her, so much so that she tried to dissuade her from coming to Trinidad to find employment.

“I told her don’t go but she said she was of legal age and needed to earn a living and save money to pursue her dreams. She wanted to return to the Philippines and open her own business, she wanted her own restaurant.”

Amelia Bernas Salvador appeals for the safe return of her niece, Lyka Bernas, who went missing last month.

According to Salvador, based on her research, Trinidad appeared to be a beautiful island.  However, she had some concerns.

“I read about the reports of missing people and about the crime,” she recalled.

Lyka, who has been in the country for just over three years was last employed locally as a nanny, was reported missing on December 13th, Salvador said when they last spoke, her niece said she was almost ready to return home to fulfil her goals.

“We spoke on December 10th, and she said that maybe next year she would come home. I told her, ‘Please come home’, and she said, ‘Please give me one more year so I can save and then I’d go home’.”

Salvador lamented that adding to the family’s frustration was the police’s handling of the matter.

“It is so very slow,” she said.  “The actions of the police have been the same routine, coming to her place, interview the door maid and that’s all, nothing.  Same procedure everyday… nothing.”

According to Eshan Ali, Executive Secretary for the consulate of the Philippines, the last official update from the police on the investigation into Lyka’s disappearance was late last year

Guardian Media also attempted to contact the police for an update into the investigation but was unsuccessful. It is not known whether certain leads were being pursued or if any person(s) of interest was detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, Salvador said every effort to ensure Lyka’s safety was being made. They have even sought assistance from the Philippines government and spoken to psychics, desperate for any clue that would bring her home.