What’s next for the Philippines following the visit of Pope Francis?

In my experience attending corporate training programs — specially those involving team dynamics and motivation approaches — I have always been impressed with the way the really good trainors are able to create a euphoric pumped-up vibe in the participants over the course of the session. The courses that are conducted away from the office over several days are particularly effective as they also create a community spirit amongst the participants in the program. Not surprisingly we come out of such training programs carrying with us that ‘high’ that supposedly will fuel a change in behaviour for the better.

Key challenge for Filipinos is to find lasting meaning in the recently-concluded papal visit.(Photo source: USA Today)

Key challenge for Filipinos is to find lasting meaning in the recently-concluded papal visit.
(Photo source: USA Today)

Those trainors certainly are worth the big bucks they’re paid. And it’s good money — considering they are not accountable for what happens to their training subjects after they leave the nest. It is really up to the boss — or whoever forked out company money to have their employees trained in an expensive course — to ensure that the expected outcomes of the investment are met by actual results.

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Scale this up to a national level and you get an idea of the expectations now resting on Filipinos in the aftermath of the visit of Pope Francis. Tax money as well as the enormous costs to do with disruptions to business all over the country thanks to the security measures and holidays effected during the papal visit have been incurred. Even more to the point, Filipinos and their top opinion-shapers, have waxed heavenly poetry over how the pope has “inspired”, “unified”, “uplifted”, and “blessed” Filipinos during his brief stay.

The bottom line, if we are to believe all this, is that Pope Francis’s presence in the Philippines over the last few days brought about “a renewed sense of hope” among Filipinos.

Hope in what exactly? Well, that depends on the answer to this question:

Will the costs incurred by the papal visit be capitalised? Or will they merely be written off?

Excuse for now the accounting-speak but this is worth bearing in mind. When you capitalise a cost, you do so recognising that a lasting asset was created. When you write off a cost, you recognise that there will be no significant legacy left by the outcome of said expense over the foreseeable future.

What exactly is the tangible asset that Pope Francis will be leaving behind in the Philippines? To be sure, he did not build a factory that will employ a hundred thousand Filipinos over the next 20 years. So far, too, there is no evidence that he has implemented any significant reforms in the Philippines’ Roman Catholic leadership that would change the primitive way Catholicism is imparted on the majority Catholic population. And neither did the pope commit to some kind of economic treaty that could contribute to the country’s development.

Of course, none of those are things that could be reasonably expected of a visiting pope. Pope Francis, after all, came as a spiritual leader, not a diplomatic Santa Claus. What the Pope will have supposedly achieved is to contribute to the spiritual enrichment of Filipinos. In short, Filipinos, in theory, will have come out of the experience spiritually wealthier. The legacy left by the pope is expected to be an intangible spiritual wealth.

So are Filipinos wealthier in spirit following this momentous papal visit?

That is the 100 million-peso question. Much the same way defenders of the extravagant “royal wedding” of Filipino starlets Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera like to point out that such spectacles serve an important purpose in society — to deliver a similar spiritual experience to their legions of fans in the form of momentary distractions from their wretchedness, the pope’s legacy is a similarly euphoric state. And we all know how long those things last.

The challenge therefore is for Filipinos to make the Pope Effect last. To be sure, millions of Filipinos saw the pope and shared the experience of being in his holy presence as a community. The question in this light, however, is a bit more confronting:

Did Filipinos actually hear what he said?

There are many rock stars who write great meaningful lyrics. The trouble with their fans is that they hear the music but not the words. Pope Francis certainly earned the distinction as the modern-era’s rock star pope. His Philippine visit affirmed that title. The thing with rock’n roll is that it is best experienced with sex and drugs. But, as my colleague Paul Farol pointed out, “The worst time to tell a person he’s an alcoholic is while he’s drunk.” The key lesson, therefore, is that the wealth in the pope’s visit lies in the messages he brings supposedly as God’s earthly vassal. Hopefully, Filipinos listened.

So perhaps we will wait out the next 100 days following this momentous occasion and review in hindsight what the papal visit really meant to Filipinos.

17 Replies to “What’s next for the Philippines following the visit of Pope Francis?”

  1. The last paragraph pretty sums it up I’m sure no one heard his words. It will be buisness as usual here. Lying, stealing, cheating everyone blaming the other person for something. Nothing will change here. It never has and it probably never will.

  2. Given the situation from almost 30 odd years, it probably will never change. We hv reached rock bottom and going six feet undet!

  3. “The worst time to tell a person he’s an alcoholic is while he’s drunk.”

    and the supposed spiritual leaders make it their live’s mission to keep the people drunk. That’s why it’s very hard to tell them how alcoholic they really are.


  4. How to turn the pope’s kilig festival into an agenda for social change?

    One thing he said: “It is now, more than ever necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.”

    Perhaps some kind of Pope Francis report card can be used to evaluate the candidates for the next election. We know that candidates themselves are loathe to talk about anything of substance. If some respected neutral authority could work out a scale, using the Pope’s ideas, in order to evaluate candidates; that may be a way to stir up controversy and debate.

    1. This recent papal visit is proof that Filipinos are not yet ready for a “democracy”. They can rally by the millions around the pope and latch on to every word he utters. But when it comes to elected officials, the nation is hopelessly divided.

      Indeed, perhaps the question core question in any framework for evaluating candidates is: Would the Pope vote for this bozo?

      That’s actually not such a bad idea.

      1. You guys may be on to something here. It may be the best doable thing as of now while ideas are still being thrown around on what could be concrete replies to the Q of “what’s next?”

        Who will P-Francis vote: Binay, Mar Roxas, or Grace Po? Or should there be an extensive search for another one? 2016 is just around the corner, and GRP might one to start something so the concept could eventually go viral. Consequently, others could do other creative formulations to it. It might just be the one thing that could help voters finally decide in the best interest of PH. Who knows it may be the miracle waiting to happen, hehehe.

        Ya, the more I think about it, the more I see it is a great idea. ..IBOBOTO BA SYA NI POPE FRANCIS. …VOTE AT SIGURADO APRUB SI FRANCIS. …help, copywriters, help, get us a good line for this one.

  5. i’m so sick of seeing all those posts from facebook friends with hazy (personal) snapshots of the hope with the comments “Feeling blessed”. According to your dogma, shouldnt you feel blessed everyday when you wake up in the morning because you’re still breathing? I may be irreligious, but Jesus H. Christ, their expression of faith appears to be simply a fad.

  6. Francis thought his inspirational words can change the Filipinos. Guess what? John Paul II did it 20 years ago and look at our country, still the same shitty heads gullible to political and celebrity personas. Discipline is all about being intelligent, proper upbringing and determination to change. If our parents tell us to go excited on small religious visits, that stupid culture will be passed to the next generations. That’s how crappy our proud tradition is: listen to your elders and don’t give a shit if they’re right or wrong as long as you follow their shit.

  7. based on the tons of garbage left at the grandstand, it seems the lessons were lost even before the pope left the country. my fellow citizens of the republic, everyone!

  8. I would look at the everyday habits of some Christians: they go to church, ask for forgiveness and absolution, then once they go out, they sin again. Deliberately. So I would equate this flocking around the Pope as just going to church, then going back to one’s nasty self afterwards.

  9. To answer the question: Back to the same old business as usual. What does anyone expect ? Ha, Change? No way, you want change? Get out of the country.

  10. Bad habits die hard. Most Filipinos go to Church on Sundays, and become “holy”; perform their “Acts of Contrition”. Then, on week days, they return to their bad habits of: stealing, corrupt practices, lying, etc…

    The Words of His Holiness, Pope Francis I, went inside their “right ears”; after the Pope departed. His words and teachings came out from their “left ears. Back to the usual evil ways…

  11. “The worst time to tell a person he’s an alcoholic is while he’s drunk.”

    and the supposed spiritual leaders make it their live’s mission to keep the people drunk. That’s why it’s very hard to tell them how alcoholic they really are.

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