Pope Francis’s over-the-top reception in the #Philippines

Building a cult of personality. That is the last thing Pope Francis is likely to have wanted included in his agenda for his visit to the Philippines. The Pope said that his visit to the Philippines is about the poor and the victims of the two recent calamities that devastated the Philippines. To further punctuate this point, His Holiness even made it clear that he wanted the identities of the people he will be sharing a meal with in Tacloban to be kept private.

Unfortunately, Filipinos make everything about personalities.

This kind of idolatry is evident not just in Philippine politics (where people trump ideas hands down) but in that uniquely-Pinoy style of the practice of Roman Catholicism.

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Commercialism and sloganeering has contaminated the papal visit in the Philippines.(Photo courtesy Manny Prieto)

Commercialism and sloganeering has contaminated the papal visit in the Philippines.
(Photo courtesy Manny Prieto)

Even in the long lead-up to the pontiff’s visit, Filipinos have taken every opportunity to show that they’ve already missed the point of this momentous event. The whole country was put on alert to the extent that normal activity in the country’s premiere megalopolis has been suspended to make way for this event on account of the security overkill and the work holiday declared to keep as many Filipinos as possible off the streets. Indeed, the recent Black Nazarene procession in Manila’s steaming Quiapo district which attracted hundreds of thousands of devotees is a preview of the sort of bizarre exuberance Filipinos apply to physical symbols of their faith.

The Philippines’ traditional media and the cliques of social media “experts” in its ironic orbit have been frenzied for days fielding all sorts of messages to their respective audiences. And where there is a media frenzy, there are Filipino politicians. Already, tarpauline and signage businesses are making a killing producing propaganda material for politicians and government officials out to make their mark in this occasion. Included in these stimuli some businesses are enjoying is a sudden demand for adult diapers thanks to a directive issued by Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino that all traffic officers use them over the duration of the papal visit.

Suffice to say, despite being derided as epal (“grandstanders”) by the Philippines’ intelligentsia classes, the masses who vastly outnumber members of these chattering cliques will likely see no issues in their leaders’ bald displays of presumptuousness. Such behaviours are even rewarded. Indeed, Australia’s ABC News observed, “[the] people of the Philippines deserve an award for their enthusiasm ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the country on Thursday.”

Nonetheless, the power of religion to move people into stampedes remains evident. The challenge, of course, remains, and the key question here is this: What sort of stampede will Pope Francis induce when he graces the Philippines this year? The Black Nazarene routinely projects a mere statue’s awesome power over its flock. But to the question of whether this power goes into something productive or simply dissipates into Manila’s corrosive atmosphere when the festival is over is a confronting one as there seems to be no evidence to attest to the earlier. Certainly, Pope Francis’s visit will move an even bigger throng. Hopefully he does, otherwise it will be a bit of an embarrassment to see a local statue attracting a crowd bigger than what Saint Peter’s heir could. But the other important question we need to answer convincingly is what we foresee to be the lasting legacy of His Holiness’s visit.

The example Pope Francis has consistently conveyed to Catholics since his ascent to power is simplicity and humility. And this is something his official host in the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, also deeply embodies as evident in his own personal lifestyle and manner.

Will Filipinos get that message and embrace the values espoused by both of these great men?

That remains to be seen. Interestingly enough, the Pope’s visit comes in the heels of a grandiose “royal wedding” between Filipino showbiz starlets Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera — a huge media event that wowed beyond words the very throngs of Filipinos the Pope and the Cardinal hope to deliver their message to. Ironic.

27 Replies to “Pope Francis’s over-the-top reception in the #Philippines”

  1. “Building a cult of personality…
    …bizarre exuberance Filipinos apply to physical symbols of their faith.”

    And sadly, that indeed describes Catholicism in PHL.

    1. Just watched Lourd de Veyra this morning. He was asking a certain priest on why Francis need to do courtesy call and special welcoming when all he wanted to do is check Tacloban’s condition. The asshole priest changed the topic and acted like the Damaso we know. Lourd certainly burned that jerk.

    1. Yeah! 😀

      This is the challenge for Pope Francis. How can he promote the mission of the Catholic Church to serve the poor when his DongYan bishops and the country’s own president condone lavish lifestyles and profligate spending? How can he convince the world to send more money to help the devastated Visayan provinces when certain Filipinos are willing to spend P7 million pesos on a wedding cake?

      In the immortal words of Empress Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.”

      Good luck, Pope Francis.

      Full article published on the Inquirer by Rodel Rodis here!

      1. The Church honor the freedom of conscience. The Church is not a tyranny to impose her teachings upon her members radically. There is nothing wrong being Rich and spent it from the very sweat of your own labor as long as you help and respect the rights of thy neighbor that is good and not imperatively wrong. The Church shepherd everyone even the rich giving utmost important with the poor. Godbless.

  2. If I were Pope and I see all these welcome tarps, all this over-the-top preparation, I would borrow a line from Charlie Hebdo:

    “It’s hard to be loved by morons…”

    1. Agree. Or maybe he could just say fuck you Noynoy and CBCP, you even made the Philippines waste taxpayer’s money just to welcome me.

  3. Having been raised Catholic, I can certainly understand the power that religion has over its followers. I just wish that we, as a people, learn to harness this fervor and somehow translate it to something truly productive. It’s sad that our countrymen, especially our leaders, confuse activity with accomplisment. Words like “pinaghirapan ko yan” or “pinagpawisan ako dyan” never fails to justify the results no matter how mediocre they may be.

  4. Malacanan, local media and CBCP morons scramble their ass just because Francis will visit the country. For the love of sanity, he just wanted to visit Tacloban because he wanted to check the condition of the typhoons victims and stupid people quickly made it feel like it’s a big thing.

    3 official holidays that cripple public service, compromise economy and cancel airline schedules? Fuck u Ngoyngoy, you really don’t deserve to be called an intelligent leader. You can kiss that attention seeking Tagle’s ass all night but don’t you ever prioritize one person over a country.

  5. You got that right cult of personality when I watch the news last night until now its about the Pope you might get shock if the media says its zero crime rate when Pope visits just like Pacquio fights.

  6. The average Filipino may have missed the sarcasm in the Australian newspaper’s quote about ‘the philippines should be given an award…’…did the journalist mention what award that may be? If not, HHHMMMM….probably a back-hand to the side of the face, ah? Ironic?

  7. “The Ding-Dong Dantes experience” is an actual book I saw for sale in the RP. With a pic of the clown on the cover.Hilarious.Not a pre-possesor of any particular talent, it is a wonder about exactly what is the big to-do about this fuckin guy? IDK,…….

  8. You cannot separate Filipinos, from their religions.
    His Holiness Pope Francis I, should visit those poor people, living around the garbage dumps.

    Political opportunists will make this occasion, to peddle themselves for votes. Aquino and Abad should confess their thievery of the DAP Fund.

    Anyway, we welcome, His Holiness, Pope Francis I. May you enlighten and pray for our leaders; that they will cease from stealing from our national treasury.

  9. Filipinos love the visit of the Pope in the Philippines because it is a good economic sign. Meaning, it is more of a commercialism rather than spiritual. This is most especially true to the TV networks.

  10. Once again, the Philippines’ addiction to ostentatious festivities over the Pope leave a poor aftertaste to those not only atheists and agnostics but the truly intelligent pious lot

    1. amen to that brotha! magsawa kayo kakasamba ng inyong sky god, kasama si thor, kraken at sembawang god of wealth.. kalokohan!

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