From the Outside Looking In: The Pope’s Visit

Back in 1995, I was one of the millions who camped out and waited for then pope, St. John Paul II.

This time, I watched the live stream with my mom at home as going to the venues will be a challenge for her. It’s a chance to exchange opinions with her too (but she still defends her favorite local channel (“who am I to judge?” but can’t help some serious eye-rolling. Hahaha).

Local  vs. International Coverage
Sorry but our local coverage can be too emotional and a tad shallow at times. Light news and trivia about the pope are welcome though these are just a Google away but sometimes it gets so vapid that one female news anchor actually asked her reporter, “Willard, tama ba nakikita ko na may ilaw yung pope mobile?” I’m like, gawd woman! Seriously?! I’m almost sure that if they switched places, the poor guy won’t hear the end of it. In case you’re wondering, that was Korina Sanchez.

That made me switch to international coverage. More than lauding the “incredible” and “waterproof faith” of the Filipinos, they discuss the pope’s message and other issues at length more than if the lights of the pope mobile are on.

But I like how one local female news anchor let go of her composure, went down from the media platform and cheered her heart out when Pope Francis passed by and she was rewarded with that infectious smile. I thought she’ll faint. She’s Vicky Morales.

Enterprising Pinoys
We can still go to the venues wearing a regular shirt, right? Our religious festivities like Sinulog and Feast of the Black Nazarene, become a blackhole for consumerism. We get manipulated into thinking that you need to wear a shirt to feel that you’re a part of the event.

We’re in a world where consumerism rules; but if those enterprising Pinoys (not the street vendors but those big time papal souvenir manufacturers) donate part of the proceeds to streetchildren and the poor (I mean, really donate), I think that will be consistent with the teachings that the pope hoped we took from his 5-day visit.

President’s Consistency
The Pope is not only the leader of the Catholic Church; he is also a statesman hence the courtesy call in Malacañang. I have to give it to PNoy’s unwavering consistency to blame the previous leadership. If he could blatantly say and get away with it, he might have said, “….Gloria Arroyo, all caps, bold, underscored, italicized, font 75… #AllCapsParaIntense”. Naman! He’s on the fifth year of his term pero daig pa ang bumyahe sa EDSA ng rush hour. Hindi maka-move on.

The Aftermath: Piles of Garbage
Twenty years later, Quirino Grandstand still looks the same after a similar huge event: garbage everywhere. The same people who was inspired by the pope were the same people who littered and made the street sweepers’ day extra difficult all because one decided to leave his water bottle somewhere and another decided to throw her candy or biscuit wrapper since there’s litter anyway. Multiply that attitude by millions and before you know it, the place has been transformed into Garbage Ville.

The Pope Francis Effect
It’s very surprising how this pope’s charisma comes through a tv screen; something so far removed from the actual venue yet you smile when he smiles, you actually feel wonderful and part of you wants to be part of his advocacy.

It’s been two days and we still have the papal hangover. But for me, more than missing his presence (and the 5-day long weekend too 😉 ), this is our chance to prove that much as our faith is waterproof, it is not spasmodic episodes of religious fervor either.



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