Will Pope Francis’s 2015 visit to the Philippines bring out the best or worst in the Filipino?

Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines is shaping out to be the country’s biggest coming event. Already there’s a scramble to fill precious slots that would bring ordinary folk within the pontiff’s breathing space — whether it be seats in the pope’s flight from Rome to Manila, or a place in His Eminence’s dining table, Filipinos are clambering over one another for a piece of St Peter’s successor and God’s earthly vassal.

A good thing papal climbers might want to keep in mind in the midst of all this is Jesus Christ’s message in Luke 14:8-11…

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, `Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, `Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

ABS-CBN Network's 'offensive' Pope Francis merchandise.

ABS-CBN Network’s ‘offensive’ Pope Francis merchandise.

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That lesson aside (or rather having long sailed far above most Filipinos’ heads), the circus, it seems, is already coming to town

Already a gaffe coming from no less than the Philippines’ biggest media enterprise is already making waves. ABS-CBN Network had earlier advertised souvenir T-shirts with the messages “No race. No religion. I embrace diversity” and “Ganito ako, ganyan ka. Who am I to judge.” The messages were supposedly meant to convey the spirit of openness that Pope Francis espouses. Unfortunately, Pope Francis does, as a matter of fact, serve as the head of the world’s largest organised religion, something that the Philippines’ Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) highlighted as potentially “misleading”. CBCP president further emphasized…

“Francis has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do. It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem.”

Apparently both parties in this quaint exchange seem to have presumed that the good Pope couldn’t speak for himself. Fair enough perhaps, considering the Pope himself may not have much of a choice when it comes to diplomatic protocol. During his visit to the Philippines, exclusive chit chat with President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and his sisters come first in the agenda of the Malacanang leg…

After the singing of the national anthem and the hoisting of the flags of the two states, Pope Francis will proceed to the Reception Hall for the signing of the official guestbook of Malacañang. He will then be ushered into the Music Room for the courtesy call where Aquino’s immediate family members, including his sisters, will be introduced to the Pontiff.

This, despite what will likely to be a queue of Filipinos hoping to be invited to the Malacanang delegation. People who don’t own a prized slot in Aquino’s inner circle shouldn’t hold their breath. According to Communications Secretary “Sonny” Herminio Coloma, it is “customary for Cabinet officials to be present.”

The mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral following his Malacanang courtesy call is also reportedly reserved for the Philipines’ Catholic elite. According to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, “the Mass on January 16, 2015, will be for bishops, priests, and consecrated persons” only. To be fair, subsequent masses to be celebrate by the pontiff at Manila’s Luneta park and in Tacloban City will be open to the public. Tacloban City was the centre of destruction and loss of life suffered by Filipinos when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck in November, 2013.

What many observers are speculating on is how the who’s-who of Filipino politicians in the race for plum government posts in the lead up to the 2016 elections will be capitalising on the papal visit for their political ends. 2015, as such, is a campaign year and there will be epal (a Filipinoism for “grandstanding”) aplenty. Still, the Pope will be a tough nut to crack. The pontiff is known to shun VIP treatment and overbearing security measures. During his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in May this year, he opted to decline the use of armoured cars, preferring instead to ride his usual white open-top “popemobile”. So finding a way to hook Pope Francis into a media stunt to jump-start (or resuscitate) a public image will be top of mind for Filipino politicians in the coming weeks.

Pope Francis also does not use big armoured limousines as his official means of road travel in Rome preferring, instead, a Ford Focus, a more humble mid-sized sedan, for use as his personal ride. This simple lifestyle will likely put to shame Filipino politicians who often travel around the country’s roads in big black SUVs more than twice the size of the Pope’s car, in motorcades consisting of chase vehicles bristling with gun barrels poking out of their windows, and accompanied by entourages that would dwarf
the team of aides that attend to the needs of God’s earthly prince.

Finally, it should be noted that the Pope will be visiting the selfie capital of the world. So along with crowd control there will be selfie control initiatives as well. An article published on the Pope’s official Philippine Visit website quoted Catholic radio anchor Ansel Beluso’s appeal to the Pope’s Fillipino fans…

“May I just say this: When we take a selfie with a life-size image of Pope Francis on a standee, can we please be more reverential about it? I find it disrespectful when people wrap their arms [around] the Pope’s shoulder, acting like they’re on the same level with him, grinning, patting his head, and mocking his baldness,” he said.

There you go. Many Filipinos have yet to learn the key lessons that one would think will have been learned by the time they graduated kindergarten. Not to worry. As pointed out earlier, the Bible has much to teach grown-ups about good manners too.

[Featured thumbnail photo: Pope Francis on the popemobile courtesy Wheels.ca.]

29 Replies to “Will Pope Francis’s 2015 visit to the Philippines bring out the best or worst in the Filipino?”

  1. The real infallible spiritual head of the Philippines is adorned all over Edsa . That hideous creature espouses the true values of the typical pinoy. Forget the virtues , forget the 7 deadly sins. Pinoys excel as benign0 says In selfies as well as self entitlement and epal. In that arena the pinoys shine. Not in adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Pinoys love baduy and this pope is definitely not that. It might be too much to ask for that if you choose to go, go to listen and learn and not just go because this is organized religions biggest “rockstar” therefore an opportunity to epal and ride on coat tails,

        1. hinde naman. i don’t like pinoy pride too. what i don’t like is napaka-holier than thou attitude ng karamihan ng posters dito. eh, malamang sa hinde eh call center agents/white collar kayo dabbling in socio-political commentary. no real influence or power whatsoever. pero acts so tough and almighty.

  2. “According to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, “the Mass on January 16, 2015, will be for bishops, priests, and consecrated persons” only.”

    We know for a fact that “bishops and priests” are the big BS in this shitty country. But the “consecrated persons”, now that’s a much more bigger BS, for the Failippines!!!

  3. ..What the world is watching is whether PHL will tops the 5 million crowd that showed up in Luneta during the mass of John Paul II. You can get a sense of that from articles of one of the leading Vatican observers and experts, John Allen (http://goo.gl/Md1ofi and http://goo.gl/sUKgHx).

    I think PHL will. If this is any indication, as of today, all the 5-star hotels to the lowliest motels in Roxas Blvd, UN Av,…. Ermita, Pasay City, and Sta Cruz are all fully booked for Jan 16 thru 19. You have to be creative now to get some kind of a room, or even where to park, as the approaches to Luneta will be closed on that day and since the next best option is to just walk with everybody else one to two kms to Luneta.

    Does the number indicate Catholicism is strong in PHL? I don’t know; all I know is that PHL is about personality cult whether in politics or religion. In Asia, PHL is still known as the only Catholic country, but observers are now predicting that in 15 to 20 years, South Korea will overtake PHL in terms of percentage of population, and even maybe, Vietnam, in 20 to 25 years. Catholics in Americas and Europe were expecting PHL to have a strong voice in the last Synod 2014 in Rome as the representative of Asia, but instead was overshadowed by Africa, to the consternation of many experts. For sure, the number is not indicative of quality. When the press chided Poland that it could only produce two million during the visit of their own, Polish JP2, they replied that PHL may have had 5m in terms of crowd, but zero increase in seminarians. Indeed, Poland experienced a 500% increase in seminary entry for priesthood after the visit of JP2 even if they only had 2m during his visit.

    I will be trekking to Luneta along with the expected six million Pinoys on Pope Francis’ visit. A small part of it is to reminisce the nice experience during JP2’s visit — there was something about that man which is hard to explain. JP2 had one-liners that were worth remembering, and Pope Francis is alao good in one-liners, though I don’t know if he has the same charisma and magnetic character as JP2… ahh, I should not be comparing the two. But be that as it may, Catholicism is not about a pope, a cardinal, bishop, or a priest, and unlike Protestanism and Islam, it is not even about a book, but a person called Jesus Christ — hope Pinoy Catholics take that into account — otherwise, better if they go to the concerts of Aerosmith, Mariah, Beyonce, or One Direction.

  4. Well Let’s Look At The Past Actions Of The Filipino Towards Their Own “WORSHIPED IDLE”,Just Watch This Video,IT IS ONE OF MANY!!,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3dx3kPuQOs, The Filipino’s Are Uneducated, Non-Moral, NON-FAITHFUL ANIMALS!! That Destroy Their Own Gifts From GOD!!, Stealing and Breaking The Statue Just Because They Are Greedy, Lazy, Evil THINGS. JUST LOOK AT THE PROOF!! So HEY FILIPINOS, WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE NOW ?

    1. The Roman Catholic Pope is a Head of State. It is not Disgusting to welcome him…there are many Filipino Catholics. We celebrate with them…

        1. Hayblad mashado. Puso mo kuya/ate. Wag rin mashadong tunog self-righteous though I’m with you on the concept of a higher being.

          There’s nothing wrong with welcoming a person. There is something wrong with sensationalizing it or using the person for publicity’s sake.

        2. as Frerderic Nietzsche said:”Is Man a folly of God? OR God a folly of Man?”,HHMMM…..Nietzsche’s words,not mine.

  5. Have the Dalai Llama come here. If this is truly a democracy, I demand equal representation of all religions here, not just the Catholic majority.

    1. The Dalai Lama, is in exile in India. The Chinese government occupied his country, Tibet. There is another Chinese version of the Dalai Lama, living in Tibet. So, there are two (2) Dalai Lamas, at present.

      Invite both of them…to come to the Philippines…you believe in reincarnation?

  6. Pope John Paul II came to the Philippines twice; nothing that makes this country a better Catholic nation happened afterwards.

    I doubt if there would be any kind of collective positive transformation that would happen long after Pope Francis leaves.

  7. An appendix is more functional than the Francis visit. It won’t have economic or development impact on the country. Just plain old feel good media and roman catholic’s hype. Francis is just an ordinary guy promoted by catholic marketing pr as holy.

  8. Pope Francis I, visit to the Philippines is also important. Perhaps:
    Aquino and Abad will confess their sins of stealing, from the DAP. And ask to be forgiven.
    Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada will wear T-shirts, with messages: “We will not steal from our Pork Barrel again”. Napoles, who is their Dummy, will confess her involvement, also.
    De Lima will confess her sins, of her unethical sexual relationship with he driver-lover.
    Roxas and his wife, Corina ; will perform another “political stunt”,with “religious theme”, to pander for votes.
    Enrile, who is demented; cannot remember the numerous sins; he has committed. So, he will not confess.
    Binay will ask forgiveness, for the properties he owned ,bought ;from stealing his Pork Barrel; and overpricing materials.
    Other Political leaders, will also confess their sins. And perform, “acts of contrition”.

    After Pope Francis I, is gone. Back to the usual business of stealing.

    We don’t need confession, contrition , etc…on these political leaders. We need a Priest good in EXORCISM. Satan, the Devil has already lodged deeply into their hearts. That all they can do is evil…

  9. Walang effect. It’ll just most likely magnify both the best and worst in us amid his visit. After the hype, everything will be back to normal. /a priori reality

  10. I just hate those who are taking advantage of the upcoming Papal visit. Selling those commemorative merchandise, just like the ad in this page hehe!

  11. just this morning, my mama gave me this mag available @ Mercury Drug. As i read the cover story, THE POPE WHO OPENS DOORS, my heart melt with HIS talked about how the church should open doors and have a heart to welcome the ‘lost sheep.’ Pope Francis went on to say: ” THINK ABOUT THE SINGLE MOTHER WHO GOES TO CHURCH IN THE PARISH AND SAYS TO THE SECRETARY ‘ I WANT MY CHILD BAPTIZED.’ AND THEN THIS CHRISTIAN SAYS, ‘NO, YOU CAN’T BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MARRIED!’ BUT LOOK, THIS GIRL, WHO HAD THE COURAGE TO CARRY HER PREGNANCY AND NOT TO RETURN HER SON TO THE SENDER, WHAT IS IT? A CLOSED DOOR! THIS IS NOT ZEAL! IT IS FAR FROM THE LORD! —-enrich january 2015
    – as i read, my tears begun to fall. i asked this same favor from our parish before. i was rejected then. not by the secretary but by the priest himself. can you imagine the scar i have until now as a mother offering her child to the church?
    well, my faith was not bruised by that incident. i still do believe HIM because the one who rejected me is only human who have also lope holes…mao nay gitawag na batch sa mga nagpakarun ingnon.

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