By all accounts, it can be safely said that the recent Papal visit of Pope Francis with the theme “Mercy and Compassion” was a success, a roaring success at that. A product of two equations coming together: Pope Francis’s innate charm and charisma and the deeply-rooted sense of faith that Filipinos have, in this case the Catholic faith where majority of the population belongs to.
Even if you are not a Catholic, you cannot help but be smitten by the personal touch the Pope has especially in interacting with the people he has met throughout his 5-day visit. With the visit now part of history, let us take a look at some of these moments here.
Day 2 (January 16)
Notwithstanding the speech of President Aquino at Malacañang when he welcomed Pope Francis, Day 2 of his visit was memorable with the mass at the Manila Cathedral attended by about a thousand priests, bishops, religious men and women, and others in the church hierarchy from different parts of the country as well as in Asia. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle gave not only a warm welcome to the Pope but also gave some informative bits on the history of the Manila Cathedral and how its story reflects the story of the Filipino people as well, with some help from the words of a fellow Jesuit (both Cardinal Tagle and Pope Francis are Jesuits) Horacio de la Costa.
After which, the Pope and Cardinal Tagle made an unscheduled visit at a nearby orphanage “Tulay ng Kabataan,” a wish come true for the children who wrote to him earlier to come and visit them.
In the afternoon, the Pope attended the Meeting with the Families at the Mall of Asia Arena where he urged the families in attendance to “keep dreaming” and to pray amid problems.
Day 3 (January 17)
It was supposed a whole day visit to Tacloban and Palo in Leyte as Pope Francis wanted to visit and interact with the people who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Unfortunately, the threat of a storm named Amang forced that trip to be cut short to only about half a day. Nevertheless, he was able to relay his message of comfort and hope to the people, something they would never forget.
Day 4 (January 18)
Pope Francis’ day began with a visit to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to meet with the different religious leaders in the country and an encounter with the youth who came to see him there. It is estimated that about 35,000 people were in and around the UST campus for that said encounter. In the message especially to the youth in attendance, he exhorted them to “learn to weep” so they can understand the suffering around them.
In the afternoon, the Pope presided over what some consider to be one of the biggest Catholic gatherings recorded as about 6 million people went to the area of the Quirino Grandstand and the area around Rizal Park to hear the Papal mass in the midst of the rain and the cold winds brought about by the same storm that hit Leyte. It was a memorable event for those who have been there as well as those who witnessed it virtually, save perhaps for the announcer/emcee who was hit for “turning a religious event into some noontime show” as some criticized.
Owing partly to the fact that work and classes were suspended in Metro Manila, the Papal visit was marked by a huge turnout of crowds not only in the aforementioned events but also along the streets where the Papal convoy would pass by, armed with the flags of the Philippines and Vatican City, photo-capturing gadgets, or some Catholic item on hand. Social media sure was flooded with photos and videos of the Pope smiling and waving at the people who came to see him along the city streets.
On the flipside, this also brought road closures, especially on the main roads in the City of Manila and nearby areas. Thankfully, the no work/classes in the metropolis alleviated the traffic from becoming worse in other roads that have been used as alternate routes.
Diaper matters aside, (which even caught the attention of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show) security from the police to the MMDA personnel were able to safeguard the pope and the metropolis with few, if any, untoward incidents reported and none that would have jeopardized the safety of the Papal party.
So the question now is what happens next? Will the Pope’s call to reject all forms of corruption be heeded this time? Will his messages still resonate especially among the Catholic population? Time will tell if this visit will have an effect in one way or another, but it will be interesting to see how it will be in the coming days and months, especially with election season in the country fast approaching.
Acknowledgements as well to CBCPNews