Where do we go from here?


ONE week after Pope Francis flew back to Rome, many of us still have the hangover. We can’t get over the Pope Francis fever. I hope the inspiration we have drawn from him stays with us for long.

Pope Francis made many of us cry, and cry a lot. He also made us laugh with his witty remarks. His gentle smile was contagious. He showed us that his words of love and care for the children, the elderly, and disabled were genuine as he went out of his way to touch, bless, kiss, and embrace children. Best of all, he made us reflect on our faith.

Yesterday, the first Sunday after the papal visit, homilies in Catholic churches were mostly about the words that Pope Francis spoke to us from his heart; words that touched many of us deeply.

The Pope reminded us that it is all right to be emotional; that it is all right to weep and cry, and that the best lesson we should learn is how to love.

Pope Francis left us with many lessons to ponder on; lessons to live by.
His words against corruption and neglect of the poor should jolt politicians and church leaders to think, care and do something to uplift their living status.

The government, using taxpayers’ money and loans, can no longer afford to send more informal settlers for what it dubbed as “training” in a resort somewhere just to keep them away from important visitors.

This year, the Philippines will host the Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) summit in November. There will be pre-summit meetings involving ministerial and sub-ministerial levels before that. That means many important foreign visitors coming to different parts of the country where these meetings will be held.

It will not only be tough but also very costly to hide from them the slums and the street beggars. A gentle warning about petty crimes that abound not only in the streets, crowded areas and public transport but also inside hotel lobbies and malls should be part of the security kit for them.

I hope that this is not taken as kind of downgrading the poor, but as a fair warning on the realities on the ground.

I also hope that the poor and the disadvantaged who listened to Pope Francis did not get his words out of context. Concern for the poor does not entitle them to become dependent on alms and survive on pity.

As the old adage says, you help the poor by showing them how to catch fish, not by always giving them fish to eat.

Instead of taking street dwellers to a resort on a weekend, the government should change its attitude and mindset on how to make them productive and participative members of society. How can that be done? By integrating programs and projects that will teach them skills to help them engage in something productive, and to mold them to become good citizens instead of seeing them sniffing rugby in parks, under the MRT tracks and on side streets.

A few days ago, I was interviewed for a research by a US-based international consulting agency about the cultural and social values of Filipinos, particularly the active, socio-economically mobile and their attitudes toward finances.

I don’t know what made me qualify as “someone whose expertise and perspective would make a valuable contribution to the study.” But after checking the interviewee’s legitimacy, I decided to give it a shot.

It was an interesting 90-minute interview. But toward the end, I was a bit embarrassed that I may be giving more negative than positive impression about the values that we attach to money.

More young employees would rather spend their first salary to buy modern gadgets like smart phones for their social values rather than use them as learning tools. In my generation which is not too long ago, most of my batch mates would surrender our first salary to our parents as a gesture of gratitude, and assume part of the educational needs of our younger siblings.

Our values and attitudes are changing, but, as Pope Francis has reminded in all of his public statements while he was here, our values for the family should remain. We should continue to dream with the family.

Let us reflect on what Pope Francis said in his extemporaneous message during his “Meeting with Families” at the Mall of Asia on January 16: “In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family!”

After the Pope’s brief visit and the many words of wisdom he shared with us, what do we do now? It should not be “back to normal” or “business as usual.”


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1 Comment

  1. Indeed, we are back to normalcy as word wars continue to escalate both in government, church institutions, and lately killing of innocent bystanders, worst of all the suicidal operation of the PNP commandos that cost at least 30 well-trained SAF personnel.

    Our hospitable attitudes are known throughout the world except in some cases that rotten apples get mix up with the norm. We are too familiar with other countries strict laws on drug smuggling, but yet our careless countrymen gamble their liberty and lives taking chances.

    We all should glad that a direct representative of our Lord Jesus Christ visited our country to correct our mistakes, our shortcomings, our stubbornness. Time to put words into action for our peoples sake.

    Those poor and marginalized people who makes the street or bridges their permanent dwelling should strive for themselves the future of their children. Those jobless people searching for recyclable items from the dump can be paid by the local government to pick up trash scattered everywhere. This can be an incentive for them to earn at least 200-300 pesos a day cleaning the environment instead of roaming around the streets begging for food.

    Also, because of the overwhelming competition among other recognized churhes in our country trying to increase their flocks poisoning the minds of other Christians, propagating their teaching about our Lord Jesus Christ is better than others. Burnham Park in Baguio City is one particular area where you want to be alone, but cannot because you’re their target. With the television and radio broadcasts blaring our eardrums day and night about our Lord Jesus, and they’ll still ask you if you’ve been save yet?

    Have you ever seen an act of kindness from ordinary people that will offer a 1 piiece of Jollibee’s Chicken Joy to a hungry street people. What if that so-called dirty and hungry fellow is a saint sent by God to test our faith?