Millions of sleepless, restless Filipinos gave the beloved Pope Francis a rousing welcome yesterday, catching a glimpse of His Holiness in the flesh after he finally set foot on Philippine soil.
The nation is also anxious to listen to the Pope’s message, believed by many as God’s word itself.
Fr. Luciano Felloni, an Argentine missionary priest sent by the Vatican in the aftermath of the Yolanda (international name Haiyan) tragedy in the Visayas said, Pope Francis’ coming is God’s grace to this country at this particular point in time.
“I believe that God has a plan for him,” Felloni said.
I believe, too, that Pope Francis himself has a plan in making a year earlier than intended his trip to our country.
Needless to say, Filipinos look up to him as the spiritual leader who brings hope of a better life and of lasting peace.
I just wish that His Holiness would have more time with the “ordinary people.”
Juan dela Cruz will be relegated to roadside of the papal routes on his way to and from his scheduled events, until the final Holy Mass that he will officiate at the Luneta Grandstand.
Understandably, Pope Francis will be secluded by a tight security blanket throughout his four-day stay.
Being the head of the Vatican State, the supreme pontiff is to pay the obligatory courtesy call to President Noynoy this morning, acceding to two hours or so of photo ops and “selfies” with the powers that be.
But I believe that’s not what Pope Francis really came here for.
The Holy Father is well-informed and would not be amused by some glib-tongued a**holes at the Palace.
“Pope Francis knows the real situation in the country, including poverty,” assured Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
He must know the widespread corruption in the government and the selective justice the administration employs in its so-called “Matuwid na Daan” reform program.
The Pope must know the lack of serious and sincere social welfare program.
Clearly, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has failed to alleviate the suffering of the disadvantaged and uplift the life of the country’s poor.
The Aquino administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program smacks of rampant irregularities, including missing funds in hundreds of millions of pesos.
These public funds have been channeled to accounts of ghost recipients over the past four years, similarly how it was done during the Arroyo administration.
The Pope, as well as the Papal Nuncio, knows how the pork barrel funds are being abused.
Unfortunately, Pope Francis might not get the chance to personally see Manila’s “poorest of the poor” who longs to be with him.
But the Pope must know the true human condition that prevails in our country.
He knows how children have to beg or steal on streets like Taft Avenue and Pedro Gil to have something to eat.
He also knows how thousands of people, who were supposed to have survived Yolanda’s onslaught in Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte, succumbed due to the lack of rescue and relief operations.
Little children drenched in mud literally dropped dead in hunger and suffocation in the stench of death for days without government help.
Now, we wait to hear Pope Francis’ message which will bring hope of better things to come and inspire genuine change amid corruption and greed.
Archbishop Tagle, though, made a good point in saying that Filipinos should not expect Pope Francis to wield a magic wand to change in one stroke the political and social tribulations in the country.
I agree it is up to us to internalize and apply the lessons of life contained in his God-sent message to the Filipino nation.