An open letter to Pope Francis on his visit to the Philippines in 2015

Dear Pope Francis,

Information about your visit to the Philippines has been occupying the country’s local media for months. Members of the national and local government have been busy preparing for your arrival. The Manila City Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada recently declared a four-day holiday for Manila residence during your visit. The decision, he said is to ensure your security while you go around the Catholic landmarks in the city. He did not mention that the holidays would ensure that you and your entourage would not have to experience the horrendous traffic on Manila roads normally experienced by locals and less important visitors in the country.

Pope Francis's visit to the Philippines is much-anticipated.
Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines is much-anticipated.
As millions of Filipino Catholic devotees anticipate your arrival, I for one am glad you have decided to visit the Philippines but for a slightly different reason. As to be expected, any visit by a very important person such as yourself will attract international attention. Members of the international media will surely broadcast your every move in the Philippines to the rest of the world. This is a good opportunity as I believe that one of the fastest ways to fix the country’s problems is to expose and shame corrupt public servants to the world.

That is why the thought of international media organizations such as CNN covering your visit is great news. The last time CNN covered the Philippines was during the height of super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in 2013. They highlighted the incompetence and corruption in government even under the leadership of President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino 3rd. Members of the President’s own cabinet showed that politics takes priority over the welfare of the survivors of the typhoon. Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas was caught on video allegedly reminding Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romuladez about the family feud between the Romualdezes and Aquinos prior to giving his full support at the height of the rescue operation.

The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan was enormous.
The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan was enormous.
Apart from clearing Manila roads of motorists and commuters during your visit, preparation in Tacloban City, which was the hardest hit by the typhoon in the Visaya region, is also in full swing. A news report says that the widening of the road where your vehicle is likely to travel was done. This is short of a miracle considering construction of roads in the country takes years to finish specially in remote provinces.

Four lanes instead of the usual two were constructed in expectation of the influx of visitors into the city. The report didn’t mention how many houses were removed and how many people were displaced — as houses in Manila are quite often built too near the roads — to give way for the new roads for your short visit. Sadly, some historic structures built in the 1920s were reported to be at risk of being removed as well:

Only recently, Palo homeowners said they, too, face displacement because of the papal visit after the Department of Public Works and Highways began demolishing houses and other structures along the highway leading to the seat of the archdiocese to make way for a road-widening project.

Among the structures in danger of being torn down are the Almadro family ancestral home, built in 1924, and the Palo Public Library, which is located in a 200-year-old house that is one of the oldest “bahay na bato” in the town and which the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has acknowledged as an “Important Cultural Property.”

Presumably, other less important roads where your vehicle will not pass through were left out of the upgrade. That can be seen as good news for locals whose houses weren’t demolished and bad news for those who missed out on the upgrade. Either way, most locals expect mediocre work from their public servants most of the time. Public servants are not known to care about whether or not they demolish a piece of the city’s history as they initiate their ill thought out plans. They just care about looking good to foreign dignitaries.

Survivors are being asked to relocate to make way for the Pope's visit.
Survivors are being asked to relocate to make way for the Pope’s visit.
Other beautification projects in Tacloban City include removing what they consider eyesores. Some 254 residents displaced by the super Typhoon have complained in October that they were being forced to relocate from their temporary bunkhouses to another temporary shelter, which they said would be far from their livelihood and their children’s schools. I’m sure your eminence wouldn’t want the lives of the survivors to be inconvenienced yet again just for your short visit. Their lives have already been disrupted enough as a result of the devastation brought about by the typhoon.

The point here is, since the most important highlight of your itinerary in the Philippines is your visit to Tacloban City to meet the survivors and to see first hand the devastation of the typhoon, relocating the survivors now would make your visit pointless since it would be equivalent to hiding their real conditions. A lot of Filipinos have noticed that it seems all this effort to beautify and prepare key areas where you will likely go is simply motivated by your visit alone and to prove that the government hasn’t been neglecting the survivors.

Of course the infrastructure upgrade will benefit the locals in the long-term but, after your visit, the focus will turn to something more trivial like political bickering in the capital Manila. Even Philippine Senator Francis Escudero was wondering where the 137 billion pesos allocated for the rehabilitation program for Yolanda-hit areas went because he doesn’t see and feel the improvements in the worst-hit parts of the region. Despite that, President BS Aquino’s budget secretary still wants 9.5 billion pesos allocated in the 2015 budget for the Yolanda rehabilitation program.

It’s bad enough that rehabilitation program is moving along slowly even with a VIP coming to the Philippines. What more if there were no one visiting? The public servants and the members of the public themselves will likely forget about the typhoon victims after the cameras have gone. If you visit other parts of the Philippines that were devastated by natural disasters that received less media attention or none at all, you will see this sort of routine neglect. They are neglected because the international community was not aware of the disaster. This is proof that Filipino public servants are mostly motivated by their need to show-off.

I do hope that during your visit, you can remind Filipinos that praying is not enough. A lot of Filipinos mistakenly believe that if only every Filipino prayed hard enough, the country will progress. If you can just reiterate the motto that “God helps those who help themselves”, that would certainly help. Maybe, just maybe, it could motivate a lot of Filipinos to take the initiative to do something to uplift their status in life and not just wait for government dole outs.

You might find this upsetting but there are a lot of Filipinos who appear to be religious but they are not really spiritual. They go to church every Sunday not because they feel a personal connection to God; they only go because they want to be seen as religious by others. Some go to church because they think it will save them from going to hell. Their behavior towards their fellowman after attending the holy mass is completely appalling and “evil”.

During your visit, Filipino politicians will also fight for the opportunity to kiss your hand and get your blessings. Do not be fooled by their meek appearance. Some of them have pocketed millions in taxpayers’ funds through scams disguised as priority assistance projects supposedly to help the disadvantaged members of the community. The records show that incumbent President BS Aquino has given the highest amount of pork barrel to public servants and his government has yet to account for it. He and his supporters keep saying he is not corrupt because there is no evidence he has pocketed funds himself but it seems he uses public funds to buy the favors of congressmen who have the power both to impeach him and to pass his pet policies.

I am sure you are aware that politicians all over the world use their charm to appear sympathetic to the needs of the poor. But here in the Philippines, politicians are in a league of their own. They don’t seem to have any conscience. The suffering of their compatriots do not bother them as they continue to loot the national coffers. Some say their behavior is a reflection of Philippine society. After all, Filipino voters put them in office.

Having said all this, I am sure you will enjoy your trip to the Philippines. Filipinos are known for their hospitality and for making sure their visitors have a grand time.

Have a safe trip.

[Photo of Tacloban devastation courtesy GMA News and The Times UK.]

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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78 Comments on "An open letter to Pope Francis on his visit to the Philippines in 2015"

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Jim DiGriz
Guest

Amen to your letter Ilda, I wish Il Papa would really read this one! And I hope he criticizes and exposes this government for the thieving, lying charlatans that they are!

s
Guest

Well said but I don’t believe the pope gives a damn about the problems here. All he will do is pray like most of the folks over here do.

Media and Politicos ADHD
Guest
Media and Politicos ADHD

“What more if there were no one visiting? The public servants and the members of the public themselves will likely forget about the typhoon victims after the cameras have gone.”

It’s clear imo at least both the media and politics unconsciously have ADHD, and it will take a powerful voice to grab their attention. Pope Francis’ visit better be a huge wake up call, but then again hypocrisy among the politicos will flourish once he’s gone.

Robert Haighton
Guest

I am really clueless why such a guy is never addressed by his real name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

Sacre-Bleu
Guest

@ Haighton, coz he is the Pope,DUH !!!
get it now?

Robert Haighton
Member

@Blue,

so what, he is the pope? I am god.

Sacre-Bleu
Guest

@ Haight, No, your not god, wake up dude, your not.

T
Guest

@Blue
That’s the thing with secularists. Your religions are worth shit to us.
It’s called free will. And no one gave humans the right to impose (beliefs) radical superstitions on other people by force. It may not surprise you but my freedom is more important to me than your beliefs.

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

The Pope is the head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign country, hence he’s addressed by the title to him as the head of Vatican city. It’s the same courtesy given to any head of state.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

When you talk about him you call him the Pope, because if you call him Jorge Mario Bergoglio, no one knows who you talk about.

As in the saying: Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio a virgin? ??? FAIL!

Dave
Guest
What Robert might be getting at (or might not) is that in countries without a Catholic majority, the Pope isn’t always referred to in the formal way, at least outside of the news. I usually heard his predecessor referred to as just ‘Ratzinger’ – usually in a dismissive tone, which is the default tone for discussions about the Vatican back home – and I heard the new pope more cordially referred to as ‘Pope Jorge’ at first, and usually think of that as his name. Maybe it just seemed unusual for a public figure to be addressed with the due… Read more »
Hyden Toro997
Guest
His Eminence, Pope Francis the First , will be coming to our country, this January 2015. Aquino and his cahoots are now trying to sweep the “Dirt” under the Rug. For the Philippines, to look good, to foreign Media. Where would they put those “Unwashed Squatters”? Maybe they will paint their Squatter Houses, made of cardboard. And color the polluted , and filthy Metro Manila Rivers and Canals…Some of the Politician Thieves; you will see them: “beating their breast”, to ask for forgiveness of their Thievery… I don’t know, if some will also confess their numerous sins to Priests. I… Read more »
Matthew Parkes
Guest

The pope’s courtesy style is not “his/your eminence” but “his/your holiness”.

Cardinals are “his/your eminence”.

(Not that I personally care what you call a man in a dress but I am just explaining the correct protocol.)

Hyden Toro003
Guest

OK…whatever…I don’t believe in organized religions…

T
Guest

@hyden
That’ll be easy my friend. They can BRIBE the international media. Sadly, CNN isnt the beacon of truth we all think it is. Heck, even BBC has been pretty shady recently. They can do camera tricks or just replace footage of the danube river as a stand-in for the pasig.

Hyden Toro003
Guest

They cannot hide the STINK…the Squatters, living around the Garbage Dumps…

T
Guest

the popemobile has a glass casing that can easily bemusked with the scent of pine breeze.
but from what i can deduce the pope will also try to physically reach out to the masses at some point. In that case, yeah, he’ll get to see how much the country resembles the gates of hell.

domo
Guest

Great letter Ilda! I already shared that letter to the Pope’s twitter page. I pray that he will read it and understand the situation.

Attila
Guest
Pope Francis is a traitor to all Christians in Europe by supporting immigration and pressuring countries like France to “open its arms to more refuges” Most Immigration is coming from Muslim countries and most Muslims are not interested in Christian Europe, but a Muslim Europe. There are already 5 million Muslims in France alone. Rapidly erasing the Christian character of the country and most of West Europe. Eastern Europe is still holding on thanks to defiant countries like Hungary. The Pope should leave the Europeans alone and maybe send his Muslim immigrants to Argentina or rich Muslim countries like Malaysia.… Read more »
Hayden Toro005
Guest

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire was stopped at Austria. They conquered Hungary…maybe, we need another :Attila the Hun, to terrorize the Muslims…

Freddy Mertz
Guest

@ Hay005, NO…..We need another Hitler to take out the fuckin JEWS !

Attila
Guest

Pope John Paul II believed in a Christian Europe. He was fighting and protecting Europe from the anti Christian communist. Today the Vatican with Pope Francis is endorsing the immigration of the millions of anti Christian Muslims and betraying the memory and sacrifice of the millions of European Christians who died and shed blood defending it from the Muslim invaders.

Attila
Guest

The Muslim Ottomans not only conquered Hungary but enslaved 3 million Hungarians and dispersed them into the Ottoman Empire as far as Nubia, Africa. Fuck the Muslims and fuck that stupid Pope for endorsing them.

Robert Haighton
Guest
Sacre-Bleu
Guest

The Roman Catholic Church has rituals that call for the changing of certain names, the Man who becomes Pope is one of them. Do you understand now? OR were you just showing off your ignorance ?

Robert Haighton
Member

Not ignorance. I just dont acknowledge and dont recognize that stupid guy. Clear?

Sacre-Bleu
Guest
So you know why he is called THE Pope and not his given name at birth?and you are just lying about ‘being cluelss’? Apparently you have a dislike of the ‘Roman Catholic Church,no?So you just go and disrespect the Man, who you do not know and have never met,yes? Clear? about one thing…MAYBE, and that is you really are ‘clueless’ about a few things.Such as calling people you do not know names like,uh…. stupid. You see, to me, that is real stupidity, the ‘clueless’ type of stupidity. So I guess your original comment was half right. Before you go gettin… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member
Dear sacred blue, green, yellow or brown, I once was in Sto Nino churh in Cebu City, Cebu, Visayas, Philippines (actually I was there more than once, but pls keep that a secret, will you?) . And when the flock is about to leave that church, they were all waving at/to a statue behind glass. It really caused me troubles to keep myself from laughing out loud. I have never seen such stupid behavior in my entire life. Any moment, that statue was about to wave back. The head of a company is called a CEO. But still keeps his… Read more »
Josemaria
Guest

Even fellow atheists of your kind call him:Pope Bergoglio

Sacre-Bleu
Guest

@ Haighton, I am not your Son, and if you think I read any of that reply but the last two sentences your even more delusional than I realized at first.

RESPECT, that is all.

Robert Haighton
Member

Sacre-Blue,

Respect has to be earned and deserved based on one’s personal achievement. A person that achieved nothing, he/she will be shown no respect. Becoming/being a parent or simply being an older person is no achievement at all. Being chosen as a pope, is chance (nothing to do with personal achievement). Or can you specifically tell me what he specifically has done for the poor people, which can be assigned to his sole and individual achievement? No you cant bec he has done nothing at all.

What rests, is that one can be appreciated.

SACRE_BLEU
Guest

@ Haighton, YOU know nothing of the Man’s work with the poor of his native country? and then so vehemently condemn the Man as a ne’er do well? YOUR kind of ignorance, is really just arrogance disguised…and you’ll get no respect like that.

Robert Haighton
Member

I am god but you cant see me

Sacre-Bleu
Guest

You are delusional Haighton, that is all. You are not god and never will be.Get used to it, or does life suck so bad for you that you have to delude yourself into believing you are god?

Jim DiGriz
Guest

I pray to the sun!

Bystander
Guest

I don’t see your brain either, so must have NONE!

Serge
Guest

Wake me up when the Dalai Llama comes. He’s a cooler looking dude than Francis. Of course, no one but maybe 5% of chinese Flips would care let alone know who he is.

Add
Guest
..Let us get together with beer by the pints To chat ’bout anything even taxes and fines Just do not be numb with needles and pins Don’t you know it is more fun in the Philippines Philip is Greek, to tell you honestly It means a lover, also one who’s friendly Sweet smelling pines were also of me But you cut the pines and took the beauty from me A puzzle, Pinoy, when will you mature? Was expecting more from you the love of nature This wall for the ocean called Pacific An archipelago, my islands are terrific Unity is… Read more »
Araceli Hernandez
Guest
yes it’s true, some of the politicians made this move just to hide all the wrongdoings in the government especially to our countrymen who suffered most in Yolanda tragedy. They are trying to convince the high eminence that they are doing good to the Filipino people but the actual situation of our country is getting worst and devastated.only a handful politicians was spared in this kind of wrongdoings . I presume the pope will try his best to console all the victims by spreading gods word just to enlightened the minds of our politicians and do the right thing, so… Read more »
Sick Amore
Guest

“I do hope that during your visit, you can remind Filipinos that praying is not enough. A lot of Filipinos mistakenly believe that if only every Filipino prayed hard enough, the country will progress. If you can just reiterate the motto that “God helps those who help themselves”, that would certainly help.”

Yes, praying is a two-way communication but there are those who’ll just transmit and expect God to just receive. But when God transmits, they don’t hear Him. It’s not that He is hard to understand. It’s just that people find it hard to listen.

Hayden Toro005
Guest

Praying helps, but doing and working for what you want, complete the cycle of an answered prayer…

Sick Amore
Guest

Amen to that!

Add
Guest
@Robert Haighton, Hi Robert. I see why you hate Catholicism so much. You are exactly the same as my two friends from Amsterdam. I met both in Geneva, and we maintain closeness because of business. Because of that, however, we seldom discuss religion. When we do, they are so dismissive. “Why, Addy, would you believe in the most stupid idea ever? C’mon, you are intelligent, it’s beyond comprehension how you would hang on to something so stupid. Really, the stupidest, stupidest.. to the nth degree” Of course, I told them that I was more amused with their feelings than anything… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member

@Add,

I read your long comment very quickly. Is it okay when I respond later. Its 02.17AM here (sunday morning) and I really cant keep my eyes open much longer.

Add
Guest

@Robert Thanks. Sure, you can take all the time. I cannot also have my tablet fix to GRP all the time, but I do check it a couple of times in day.
@Benign0, thanks for allowing a long comment. Appreciate it.

SACRE-BLEU
Guest

@ Haighton, while you are busy insulting the leader of a major modern religion,Roman Catholicism, why stop there?
Why not try insulting, in public, the leader’s of another major modern religion like say, Islam? and see what happens? You will no doubt remember what happened to the ‘DUTCH’ Man who was Van Gogh’s Great-nephew?

Robert Haighton
Member
Add, we consider one’s religion something private. So we will not often start a conversation about one’s religion and his/her position/feelings about it. It’s private. Translated, our credo comes down to this: “I am not gonna bother you with my religion, so pls don’t bother me with yours. Pls keep your religion inside your own home”. But that does not mean, we atheists, don’t have our own opinion about a religion. So when you ask, I will give. I have 2 positions about all religions: a) everything was invented (and that includes the image “god”) by those who wrote all… Read more »
Add
Guest

@Robert
Link

Robert Haighton
Member

@Add,

thanks for the link. Read it. That was very enlightening to read. A pity I dont see that in any contact I had & have with Filipinos/as.

Again very much appreciated (genuinely) !!

triple r
Guest
Can he also give a stern lecture to local clergy telling them that they are also accountable for the current moral decay in the Philippines? Can he tell them that they, the local clergy, should focus less on impeding access to reproductive health products and more on tangibly helping the poor? Also for all its talk on sex/reproductive health it is baffling that the Philippine Catholic church does not go after the rampant prostitution in the country often times involving minors (hmmm sexual abuse involving minors, maybe a little too close to home?). He should scold the local clergy for… Read more »
Hyden Toro11
Guest

Higgs Boson or “God Particle” has nothing to do with God, or origin of the universe…It is a misnomer…

Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

Now if only we can get Pope Francis to actually read this… then something might happen.

temporary damage
Guest

nice reading you all….you all have great point of view…

Juan Diego
Guest
Dear Pope Francis, I hope you will spend more time in the Visayas and/or Mindanao rather than in Manila. Even your visit in Tacloban is only for a few hours. I wonder who in Imperial Manila made your itinerary. Bohol, for one, was struck by an Earthquake and I wonder why the Manila-centric CBCP didn’t include the province in your visit. Please visit also Bantayan Island in Cebu because it was also hit very hard by typhoon Yolanda. And please spend more time in Tacloban and in Palo. Celebrate a Mass among the poor in Tacloban, Palo, Bantayan Island, Bohol,… Read more »
Archie Greener
Guest

No one has no religion or belief. You have to have one. 0therwise, you’re just a person without a brain or an animal without an instinct.

kris quejado
Guest

Yes, a lot. Some of them are Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. More than 60% have no religions. Please do some research.

Gerry
Guest

@Robert:
If you really believe on your credo, why did you in the first place make an issue with how people address the pope? Unless you want to tell me you’re simply interested, it’s fine. But if you criticize people for that then go back to your credo.

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