Will Pope Francis’s prayers make a difference to Typhoon Haiyan’s victims in the Philippines?

There is a world of difference between (1) making a quick visit to the Philippines, and beholding all the usual stock-standard confronting sights of impoverished Filipinos “bravely” scraping together a living and (2) growing up in the Philippines, and experiencing that poverty (either as a part of it or as an observer) everyday for many years fester irreversibly.

The way a visitor regards Philippine poverty is vastly different from how a resident regards it. The way a typical visitor to the islands takes in Philippine poverty has become pretty banal — shock followed by admiration for (and here is where the script starts) the Filipino’s “resilience” and “courage”. A long-time resident, on the other hand, carries with her a different narrative about Pinoy-style poverty — one that is rationalised to the point of desensitisation.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

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There is a lot of lip service and emo material paid to the way short-stay foreigners digest Pinoy-style poverty. The much-anticipated papal visit is one. Catholic handlers and PR artists are already spinning that familiar narrative for Pope Francis who is (following that expected script) likely to say the usual prayer, commend Filipino “resilience”, then fly back to Rome to attend to the rest of his impoverished flock elsewhere. Recently it was a bunch of Fil-Am youth leaders who “immersed” themselves in all that poverty for all of a week or two within which, they say, the Philippines “reveal[ed]” to them “indelible images and thoughts that will sit with [them] long beyond the airplanes carrying [them] have touched down back on American soil”.

That’s all nice of course. But I liken that “high” such types of observers take with them after their poverty porn fix to the difference between the experience of playing with someone else’s baby and coming out of that experience gushing about how cute it is and the experience its parents are faced with everyday — the joy of its cooing and playfulness and the backbreaking character-building task of wiping crap off its bottom and putting up with its shrieking in those real times largely unseen to the rest.

We need not look too far for a case-study of the less-trumpeted manner with which most Filipinos regard the poverty in their backyards. Just in our daily commutes to work on Manila’s steaming streets, we see what Filipinos, rich or poor, really think of the poor and their poverty respectively. The rich, all comfy in their airconditioned cars, hardly give a second look to 5-year-old drug-dazed beggars knocking at the other side of their car windows at most intersections. The poor, for their part, see all that as just another day at the office for their kids.

In short, Filipinos don’t really see their own impoverishment as anything special. Certainly for the average Pinoy, seeing the poor is not the “humbling” experience those Fil-Am youth leaders gushed about after coming home from their “immersion”. Pope Francis will certainly say a prayer when he visits Haiyan-ravaged Tacloban next year. But, really now, is the Pope’s prayer any more special than anybody else’s? Perhaps so, if we are to believe the expected throng of people who will greet His Eminence there and the thousands more who will follow him to Ground Zero. Indeed, the Philippine government is reportedly spending what is likely a million-odd pesos widening the road from the airport to the Tacloban city centre for the occasion. In any case, what happens after the Pope visits Tacloban and all those prayers are said remains to be seen.

Perhaps this is the reason why what foreigners say about Philippine poverty is so newsworthy — because what they say is the sort of stuff one ought to feel about poverty. But the more in-your-face reality is that what one ought to say about poverty is rarely ever the same as what one actually feels about poverty.

When you’ve seen — no, experienced and lived through — how all that poverty came about to begin with and then understand (in that profound way that only a local can) why it persists like the incurable cancer that it is, you begin to see all those feel-good platitudes about Philippine poverty dished out by these visitors as mere insults to the Filipino’s already meagre intelligence.

[Photo courtesy Telegraph.co.uk.]

31 Replies to “Will Pope Francis’s prayers make a difference to Typhoon Haiyan’s victims in the Philippines?”

  1. “When you’ve seen — no, experienced and lived through — how all that poverty came about to begin with and then understand (in that profound way that only a local can) why it persists like the incurable cancer that it is, you begin to see all those feel-good platitudes about Philippine poverty dished out by these visitors as mere insults to the Filipino’s already meager intelligence.”

    This line here hits the spot.

  2. Francis’ visit will just become another inspiration written in history. John Paul visited the country and no improvements whatsoever was made by everyone: people and government alike. Talk about wasting taxpayer’s time, money and energy for nothing.

      1. I know why, it’s because “she” is desperately trying to change the subject to something that isn’t even related.

        Still not very smart, are we?, sendonggirl?

      1. Non sequitur. Personal religious beliefs are irrelevant in this context. Prayer iS NOT the topic of the article. Stop obfuscating the issue.

        1. @ SAINT (HA, Name should be Jonny JACKASS)Try not being a typical Flip for once in your life and answer the question, ya JACKASS!

          (You asked for this wise guy! and it is on NOW!)

        2. For the benefit of the LIAR, Thom Hardy, who is evidently incapable of following simple discourse, the topic of article is poverty in the Philippines and Filipino attitudes toward it. NOT PRAYER OR RELIGIOUS BELIEF.

          The insistence of ‘Thom Hardy’ the LIAR and ‘cher’ in pursuing this tangent does nothing to advance the discussion. Based on previous posts, ‘cher’s’ objective is to obfuscate the issue while Thom (THE LIAR) Hardy’s purpose is mere denigration as an attempt to mitigate feelings of powerlessness and low self-worth.

        3. @ SAINT BWAH HA HAHA HA, for my benefit?

          You JACKASS, your defense is useless,you got nothin on me.Presented with facts you come back with insults as your too dumb to defend your idiotic POV.

          Asked a simple question and don’t answer the question, but look up a word in the dictionary.

          Your just an idiot flip and anyone with a brain knows it.

          SCHOOLS OUT, your dismissed JACKASS.

        4. No, LIAR, insults and profanity are your stock in trade. As well as inciting violence and fomenting anarchy. And, of course, posting disingenuous rants while attacking anything that does not confirm your narrow minded point of view. The petulant bluster doesn’t fool anyone.

        5. @ Johnny Derp, Not really…the way the smart ass Saint keeps jawin at the guy,I dont blame Hardy(Har Har).

          A tough guy is a person who can get the shit beat out of him, and laugh about it the next day.So yeah, he is.

        6. He’s not that definition of tough guy,vlad.
          This hardy fellow is more like the “internet tough guy”:someone who acts tough online but is only doing for shits and giggles. “cher” on the other hand, is just some shmuck being paid to troll here(albeit very incompetently I might add)

      2. @”cher” a.k.a sendonggirl
        What’s your point?
        Ah, I see it’s yet another red herring isn’t it?

        Still not very smart, are you? sendonggirl

        1. @John Derp, OK maybe you do understand.
          Read This (and understand that there are forces that run the world that people like Saint know nothing of,although he will no doubt say he does know,and that these forces are why the Republic of the Philippines is the way it is.and will continue to be so…).

          Here,not the best source material but it will get the message across for now…..


  3. The minute we stop pretending we are just fine as a country will help us realize that poverty is real and then start crafting State policies that addresses the problem.

    What is socio-economic policy of PNoy? Is DAP the solution to poverty?

    PNoy and his economic team brags about 6.5 to 7.2% target GDP this year. Is it the quantity or the quality of GDP that matters? What is the good of having a high GDP while Poverty Index is also getting higher.

    Enough said.

    1. NO, not nearly enough said, and absolutely nothing done about the horrendous squalor that most Filipino’s live in because they were born into a non-dynastic family.

      You want change? START DEMANDING IT!

  4. If you are a Christian believer; prayers will make a difference in the situation in Leyte. Pope Francis will see a condition in the area; that is sanitized. The dirt and filth are swept under the rug. Those officials who are corrupt and stealing from the DAP and Pork Barrels, will be in the Act of Contrition of their Evil Deeds.

    After Pope Francis will be gone. Back to the business of Stealing Public Funds; and other corrupt practices. The dirt will come out; and the filth will Stink again. Back to the old Filipino Habits…This is the Aquino era…

  5. The foreigner who says “the Filipino is resilient and courageous…” is just being nice, u kno? How would people like if it was stated that they are a nation of idiots for putting up with the government that doesn’t give a rats ass about them. when calamity strikes and leaves them to fend for themselves until international help arrives because their government is too cheap to spend any of the peso’s they have stolen from the idiotic filipino’s that the government thinks are worthless dogs.”,or “how can these people put up with living like fuckin pigs when the people in power are living large?”. how would that sound? The foreigner that says that would be railed against by the very idiots he /she is sticking up for.
    Most people realize(what is happening in the Filippines &) that if they can not say something good, don’t say anything or make something nice to say up.Kapeche,eh?

    Trust its true…people don’t think they are any such thing.

    1. The fact is, foreigners who have been here long enough to know “the lay of the land” will think that way and most will say it only when no Filipino is listening, in order not to be rude.

      Foreigners who read about Philippine disasters in the newspaper abroad, but don’t know anything about this country, will foolishly use the words resilient and courageous.

      Sheepish and ignorant to their own suffering and stupidity is a better description.

  6. The Catholic church is 90% responsible for the mess here. All this idiotic god fearing behavior never got anyone anywhere. It just teaches people to rely on the man in the sky instead of fixing their shit and getting their act together. No wonder most of the poorest countries in the 3rd world have a catholic background.

    The pope coming here is like setting a town on fire and returning to the scene of the crime two days later to gawk at the victims and their suffering.

    The Catholic church (among other religions) is not a friend of the poor, but instead a friend of poverty. They claim that suffering is a gift from God. Since their existence they have spent their time opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and their education and emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction that leads to over population and even more suffering.

    1. @ Jim DiGriz, there are some people that think the greatest hoax ever pulled off on humanity is the One THE JEWS have perpetrated.By getting entire populations of people to believe that a human being died and was re-born,came back down from heaven, and then mysteriously disappeared again.

      It is one reason the former U.S.S.R. outlawed religions in any form as it kept the so called ‘upper-classes’ insulated and protected from the masses who,blinded by religion to obvious alternatives, opted for the ‘opiate of the masses’ to accept and ease their suffering, rather than do something about it and revolt against the oppressive forces that ruled their existence.Lenin himself was a working class guy who had seen enough of the charade and decided to do something about it, and it worked.

        1. Yes, really…as the hoax sets Jesus ,a Jew,squarely in the Frame-work/parameters of the Egyptian,’HORAS’ and many others after ‘HORAS”(that were all born on 25th December,virgin-born.The references don’t matter but Christ is ‘GOD’s Sun’ for the age of pisces and will be so until the torch is passed to the next ‘God’s SUN’.Just as Moses was the messenger for the ‘Age of Pisces’ when he killed the BULL after he came down from the mountain and ended the ‘AGE OF TAURUS’),point being a ‘hi-jacking occured and a new age was entered but it was supplanted with a slave mentality that was not the path that Man should have walked down.Thanks to the Jews as well as the Romans but to a much lesser degree..

    2. BUT in the current Pope’s defense…he seems to be a working class guy himself who wants people’s lives to improve,so maybe his visit will start a change for the better.

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  8. For us, no, it doesn’t matter. For the survivors, yes, it definitely would. If it’s any consolation to those who lost loved ones, friends, livelihood, properties, let the leader of the Catholic church minister to them. At least the victims don’t get snubbed by the Pope the same way the President just did last Nov. 8.

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