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POPE FRANCIS – A la Super Typhoon in the Philippines

January 15, 2015
Pope n Rizal

T-Shirt that I chose with our flag design and Rizal Monument as background

Pope Francis is arriving in Manila from Sri Lanka this evening at 5.45 for a five day visit here starting today January 15 up to January 19. The preparations for his coming is akin to the preparations made before the coming of recent super typhoon Ruby. The government agencies concerned, and the citizens readied for the typhoon’s onslaught to avoid the same outcome as when Typhoon Yolanda “visited” the country. Media had special coverages. Similarly, preparations for the coming of the Pope were lined up but this time the Church and State are working together to welcome the Pope. The media is playing an important role in giving information to the people. Radio is observably turning to be more reliable since schedules shift from time to time. For ex., an earlier radio report says that Mass at the Cathedral will start at 12.15; in an hour or so, the same station says it will be at 11.15am.

As almost all sectors are affected by Pope Francis’ coming, it can be said that he is like a super typhoon. But unlike typhoons that bring devastation to life and properties, the Pope restores lost hope and faith to Man. Thus, hundredfold activities to welcome him are being prepared by all concerned including ordinary citizens, with his security and protection against lawless elements topmost in the list of “to do’s.” Understandably, visiting us is Christ’s representative, Shepherd to over 80 million Catholic Filipinos, and head of state of Vatican City as well.

Ordinary citizens in Manila and Tacloban, places the Pope are visiting are quite excited to see him. It is also like preparing for the coming of Superman. Though the Pope already said that focus should be on Christ not on him, still it seems that he is seen as a hero. For many who are looking for someone to lift their spirit up from feeling of distress perhaps, or from poverty – either of spirit and economic lack, the Pope with his enchanting and charismatic personality loom large as figure of hope. With so much news on corruption, drug lords living as kings, leaders who think of themselves more that the country and the people that they should serve, the Pope’s coming serve as a breather… a rest…He is seen as Light, as Hope for renewal, for change. He brings Christ.

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Pope “fever” is high: radio stations promise mega and non-stop report from his arrival; on newspapers and on television the Pope is headline. As I live in Pasay, the first city where he is arriving tonight – in between Villamor Airbase where the Pope would disembark and the Mall of Asia where his Mass with selected families is to be held on Sunday — it has become common to hear and see helicopters hovering around the area; part of the authorities’ dry run possibly on the routes the Pope would take from the airport to the Nuncio’s house in Manila. For several days now, priests are daily being interviewed about him by different radio stations. Like them, I heard Cardinal Tagle sounding very “high” and happy when he recounted his experiences with Pope Francis. His coming is most anticipated.

Inside Baclaran Church yesterday afternoon –just a day before the Pope arrives, I saw a team of foreign correspondents, taking notes about the on-going Wednesday novena, perhaps having their preview of the community who would welcome the Pope. Much unlike in Europe, where Catholicism seems “dead” [I remember entering a very huge church in Belgium with not more that 10 people inside it]; here it is quite alive, especially in the Mother of Perpetual Help Shrine in Baclaran, the Catholic church located nearest to our house.

Souvenirs with his photos, T-shirts, fans and badges are also all over. Photo standees were made so that people who won’t be able to go near Pope Francis in person could at least take their photo with him. Classes are suspended until he leaves; offices are closed; roads are to be blocked; airplanes cannot plane in before and until he arrives / leaves. Prayers and petitions are being readied by people hopeful of change from within and without one’s self.

I can feel the Hope that he is bringing to our country. Stories about him abound regarding his Love, Mercy and Compassion for the poor and “the least of our brethren.” He goes to the people; he serves his flock. His simplicity and Humility is something our corrupt leaders should emulate and follow.

I am not a practicing Catholic anymore but I am as excited as any pious and religious Catholic who are waiting for “The People’s Pope.”

I am just praying that typhoon “Amang” which just entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility  dissipate, if not, completely melt away, or change its course of direction. It is currently bringing rains to Tacloban and Samar, the two most-devastated places affected by Typhoon Yolanda. So many believe in the power of prayer. That includes me! Nevertheless, in case he experiences the typhoon rains in Tacloban, it would be giving him a more complete picture and feel, even just for a fraction on what the victims of Typhoon Yolanda actually encountered.

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