The people’s pope, the poor’s hope

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Pope-Francis-pope-mobilePope Francis’ visit to the Philippines couldn’t have come at a better time. Beset with corruption scandals, social problems, hunger, poverty, and the catastrophic destruction caused by super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, Pope Francis comes at a time when the people – particularly the poor — seek spiritual intervention to lift them from the social morass that plagues their lives.

It did not then come as a surprise that upon Pope Francis’ arrival at the Villamor Airbase, tens of thousands of Filipinos braved the rain and lined the streets for hours just to catch a glimpse of their beloved Santo Papa (Holy Father) in his Pope mobile on his way to the Apostolic Nunciature where he was billeted during his stay.

Pope Francis in Tacloban

Pope Francis in Tacloban

The following day, he flew to Tacloban City in Leyte – defying typhoon Amang – to meet the surviving families of the victims of Yolanda. And just like in Manila, the people of Tacloban braved the punishing rainstorm to demonstrate their love for “Papa Francisco” as he rode in his Pope mobile wearing a yellow raincoat, waving to the enthusiastic Leytenos.

Pope Francis with street children

Pope Francis with street children

On the third day, Pope Francis held Mass at the University of Santo Tomas. Before the Mass, he had an emotional encounter with former street children. Glyzelle Palomar, a 12-year-old taken in by a church charity, wept as she asked how God could allow children to descend into prostitution and drug addiction. “She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn’t even able to express it in words but in tears,” the Pope told those who were at the event.

Pope Francis holds Mass before six million devotees.

Pope Francis holds Mass before six million devotees.

On the fourth day of his visit, Pope Francis held an afternoon Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. The event drew a crowd of more than six million, a new world record for a Papal Mass. The devotees came from all over the country. They started arriving in the early hours of the day and waited standing in the rain for hours on end, which makes one wonder: How many more would have attended the Mass if it wasn’t raining?

Soaked in the rain, many of them had nothing on but clothing drenched wet and cold. Indeed, it was the ultimate display of their devotion to that one person whom they hope would deliver them from the clutches of social and moral decadence that is plaguing the country today.

Activism

Pope-Francis-First-Jesuit-PopeKnown for his compassion for the poor, the powerless, and the hopeless, Pope Francis belongs to the Society of Jesus — or Jesuits — a militant organization that is noted for its educational, missionary, and charitable works. Argentine-born, Pope Francis is the first Jesuit who was elevated to the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church. It is no surprise then that his militant discipline and activism have brought him to the forefront in the fight for social justice. Indeed, he has been making waves that no other pope before him had dared.

His trip to the Philippines was no exception. With the culture of corruption that pervades in government, Pope Francis saw an opportunity to impart his thoughts when he paid a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang on January 16.

Pope Francis signs Malacanang guest book.

Pope Francis signs Malacanang guest book.

In his speech before a group of high government officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Pope said: “As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country.”

His tone and choice of words in his speech in Malacañang was polite compared to some of his past sermons and homilies that often include fire-and-brimstone language. In one of his daily morning Masses inside his Vatican residence, he delivered a fiery sermon against corruption where he quoted a passage from the Bible where Jesus said: “Some sinners deserve to be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea.”

In another sermon, he said: “Christians who lead ‘a double life’ by giving money to the Church while stealing from the state are sinners who deserve to be punished.” He criticized Catholics who enrich themselves from graft. “Those who take kickbacks have lost their dignity and give their children dirty bread,” he said. He likened corruption to drug addiction. “We might start with a small bribe, but it’s like a drug,” he said.

The Holy Father also described people engaged in corruption as “whitewashed tombs,” saying that “they appear beautiful from the outside, but inside they are full of dead bones and putrefaction.” “A life based on corruption is varnished putrefaction,” he said.

These sermons remind me of the Philippine lawmakers who were involved in the Pork Barrel Scam, one of the worst – if not the worst — corruption scandals in the country. It’s a well-known fact that Philippine politicians are some of the most religious people… at least in appearance. They’re very generous in supporting charitable causes. But where they get the money they donate makes one wonder if they earned it legitimately.

Faux pas

President Aquino welcomes Pope Francis in Malacanang.

President Aquino welcomes Pope Francis in Malacanang.

The low point during the Papal visit was during President Aquino’s speech following Pope Francis’ speech in Malacañang. Aquino noted that the Church had “always been at the forefront of championing the rights of all, especially those of the marginalized.” But he said that he find it hard to understand why members of the clergy — once advocates for the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless — have suddenly become silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which he claimed his administration is still trying to rectify to this very day.

“In these attempts at correcting the wrongs of the past, one would think that the Church would be our natural ally. In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin. Is it any wonder then, that they see the glass not as half-full, or half-empty, but almost totally empty. Judgment is rendered without an appreciation of the facts,” Aquino said.

The question is: Why did Aquino chastise the Catholic clergy in front of the Holy Father, right inside his palace? And to what end? Does he expect the Pope to punish the prelate who suggested that he do something about his hair? And why did he even mention the “abuses” under former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration? What has that to do with the Pope’s pastoral visit?

I think it’s time for Aquino to grow up and stop throwing tantrums in front of his guest who happens to be the spiritual leader of the two billion Catholics that inhabit the Earth.

Aquino should be thankful that the Vicar of Christ had included the Philippines in his itinerary during his presidency, the fourth such occasion in Philippine history. That should add a feather in his cap.

And at the end of the day, as we bid the Holy Father, “Arrivederci Papa Francisco,” he will be remembered for a long time as the people’s pope, the poor’s hope.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


19 Responses. Have your say.

  1. philip says:

    Ever wondered why Lolo Kiko is well-informed on the inner workings of the Philippines, her leaders. the massive corruption and the people’s poverty? He is well-advised by this “barkada”, Cardinal Tagle, his co-worker for three years on a Vatican project when they were still both bishops. Cardinal Tagle, with three summa cum laudes to his name, has probably the most brilliant Filipino mind after Rizal. It will not be a surprise to me if he becomes Pope Francis II. PeNoy can probably overcome his childishness if he takes him as a spiritual adviser.

    My high regard and respect for him was heightened when he declined to join the coterie of nine bishops who officiated the DongYan “royal wedding”, citing a previous commitment.

    Going back to PeNoy, our future Pope from Asia showed his diplomatic sensibility when he commented on PeNoy’s speech that he was just expressing his personal life experiences.

    Indeed, PeNoy has three beloved themes that he belabors whenever he has a chance:

    1. Marcos martial law and Cory people power.
    2. The misdeeds of the GMA administration.
    3. His disagreements with the Catholic Church hierarchy,

    Unfortunately, none of his favorite subjects were fitting for the Pope’s pastoral and social courtesy call. By his speech, PeNoy displayed to a world-wide audience his immaturity. insensitivity and insensibility.

    He had the perfect stage to be a world hero and he did not have to die like his father. The best thing he could have said, “Lolo Kiko, my motto is like yours:

    “Kung walang corap, walang mahirap” (translated “If there are no corrupt, there will be no poor”). You also said that these sinners (corrupt officials) should be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea.”

    I read on Facebook what Perry Diaz wrote that Binay, who was cowering right in front of you, should be the first one to be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea!

    But the problem with PeNoy he is not only bald of ideas but he is also pretending to be blind. There is nothing he can do about Binay’s VP position but why is he still coddling this corrupt official in his cabinet? In any other country of the world, except Quezon’s PH, Binay would have been stripped of his cabinet position pronto!

    PeNoy should have announced, “Lolo Kiko, I have followed your advice. I will not tie Je(sus)Jo(seph)Mar(ia) because of his holy name to a rock and throw him into the sea but I will kick him out of my cabinet right now.” (APPLAUSE).

    If only he did that, he will be a bigger hero than any Filipino dead or alive. He would be living up to his father’s motto, “The Filipino is worth dying for”. Ninoy and Cory would be applauding their son with the real Jejomar in heaven.

    • perry says:

      Hi Philip,

      I agree. Cardinal Tagle is most likely Pope Francis’ successor. He’ll be the modern-day pride of the Malay Race.

      Perry

    • pat talens says:

      Philip, we have “meeting of the minds” on Jejomar Binay. That he is VP to PNoy does not require him to be on PNoy’s entourage or important meetings such as when being with the Pope. Unless PNoy knows something that Jejomar will soon to become his sure successor, and so Jejomar will take it easy with him (not become like GMA) when Binay takes the helm.
      Anyway I hope Pope Francis historic visit brings about miracles of spiritual rebirth and penance to those who cause affliction and corruptions to the Land—and here may be Binay leads the pack, along with Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, Arroyo, Lapid, and many more. For now, unless they repent these people fit in what the Pope said “inside they are full of dead bones and putrefaction.”

      • philip says:

        Pat,

        I saw on live TV (as late at 4am) when Lolo Kiko and PeNoy (pronounced it with a long e) made their speeches that were as disparate as night and day in content and relevance. Interestingly, as the Pope was emphatically voicing to the assembled throng of PeNoy’s henchmen, I glimpsed at Jojo at the front row intently listening.

        Jojo could not help but listen as Lolo Kiko admonished politicians to reject corruption as this is a sinful way of robbing the poor. Does this ring a bell? Of course, this is but a reprise of PeNoy’s slogan “Walang Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt”.

        If Binay just shrugged off PeNoy’s oft-repeated dictum, perhaps might he have been moved to action by the same truth coming from a Holy Man?

        Will he be the Filipino St. Paul? If he can reconcile with the idea that he is a mere mortal who can take no moola or hacienda to the next life. But he can certainly leave a good and revered name long after he is gone. Or will he be content with the fate of the late lamented Macoy, who is just lying, rebuilt as a wax figure in a glass cage who cannot hear Fair Dame Imelda’s love songs when she comes to visit.

        Will JeJoMar with his most holy name, just like St. Paul, discard his wicked ways and metamorphose into the third Filipino saint?

        Wishful thinking but miracles are stranger than fiction! San Jejomar, what a nice name.

        Best,
        Philip

        • pat talens says:

          San Jejomar????Let’s cross our fingers (and toes), Philip. Hope, it works for St Binat oops Binay—a miracle for once.

          • philip says:

            Pat, Thanks for commenting on my parody. You know it’s a joke that will not happen in a hundred years.

            ON A MORE SERIOUS MATTER, I THINK I HAVE FOUND THE SMOKING CANNON THAT WILL BLOW THE BINAY DYNASTY INTO SMITHEREENS.

            1. TRILLANES AND PIMENTEL SHOULD USE THE REGISTER OF DEEDS AND THE BUREAU OF LANDS TO TABLE SURVEY THE BINAY HACIENDA TO SHOW THE EXISTING REGISTERED OWNERS.

            2. THE CURRENT CLAIMANT-OWNERS’S NAME, ANTONIO TIU, WILL SURELY NOT SHOW BUT MERCADO WILL SHOW AS AN ADMITTED DUMMY FOR ONE OF THE PARCELS.

            3. WHEN THEY KNOW THE NAMES OF THE REGISTERED OWNERS, THEY CAN SUBPOENA THEM ONE BY ONE TO TELL THE TRUTH ON THE BUYERS OF THEIR LANDS. SIMPLE AS THAT, THE HEARING WILL PROVE THAT JEJOMAR IS NO SAINT BUT THE BIGGEST CROOK WHO EVER LIVED.

            4. THEN WE CAN INVITE POPE FRANCIS AGAIN TO TIE THE FIRST ROPE ON THE ROCK WITH BINAY AND WE CAN ALL ADD OURS BEFORE WE THROW HIM INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN NEAR PALO SO THE YOLANDA VICTIMS CAN NOW HOPE THAT THEIR MONEY WILL BE USED TO BUILD THEIR HOUSES, NOT MORE BINAY MANSIONS AND GARDENS.

            WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  2. Tina Ocampo says:

    I’m so tired of all your politicking and innuendoes. I’m sure anybody who will sit as president will earn your ire? It’s just that you write as if there is absolutely no tomorrow for the Philippines and we are all garbage here as well as the political leaders and the government workers. But how do you know? Do you know all of them? Do you know how they all live and conduct their daily lives? How about us Filipinos who love our country enough to have stayed here, help in nurturing the youth, fight corruptions in our own ways and try to live decent, honest and fair lives? Kakapagod naman basahin comments and articles mo.

    Tina Ocampo

    P.S. We followed the Pope not because he “gave us hope”; we followed him because we wanted to. Isn’t that enough reason for you?

    • perry says:

      Hi Tina,

      Thank you fro expressing your opinion. You’re right, no president since Fidel V. Ramos has earned my respect because they didn’t deserve respect. And it looks like Binay might be the next president, ha? No wonder the Filipinos are in perpetual suffering! Stupido na, gago pa!

      Perry

      • philip says:

        Dear Tina and Perry,

        I hope both of you will agree that we are all taking the time to write because we care about our country and people, just like Lolo Kiko. We want in our own little way to open the eyes of the general population who are at the mercy of corrupt politicians from time immemorial. Only the officials change but their ways remain the same.

        Filipinos (I’m still a citizen although a true expat for more than 30 years now) overseas number more than 10 million and are admired for their honesty, integrity and industrious-ness wherever they are. In the home front, there is only morass and despair among the Pope’s beloved poor because we are still searching for strong leaders who worship honor more than money.

        I admire you Tina for your tenacious patriotism and may your tribe increase to vote against Binay who, in any other country except ours, should be behind bars by now if for nothing else but his unexplained wealth that he could not have amassed from his government salaries.

        It is still one year and a half before the next election and I hope that the Ombudsman has gathered enough evidence, in Binay’s words, “that will stand in court” to convict him.

        If not, then be prepared for the inevitable that was wished by Quezon. Our country will indeed be run like hell by, ironically, a holy-named President. Susmaryosep, but by then he should change his monicker to Satur(no)!

        Perry, I think we have twin minds separated at birth. Since people power that has not improved the lot of the Pope’s beloved poor, I also agree that the only President who showed leadership with integrity, mercy and compassion was Fidel Ramos, the only military man (PMA/USMA) so far who became President.

        Now, let’s see if we still agree on who we want to be the next President. Many are clamoring for Grace Poe because she is popular, young and untainted. My personal choice is Sonny Trillanes who may not be as popular but is also young and untainted. Besides, he is a hybrid of the Real Ninoy and FVR because he was imprisoned for seven years and is a former military man who, even only a captain, had generals among his followers.

        The alternative is Joma but that is going too far ahead of the story. Besides, we may not share his ideology but, a contemporary UP grad, I know he sacrificed a life of comfort to fight for his belief in the common tao in his own indomitable way.

        Sincerely,
        Philip

        • perry says:

          Hi Philip,

          I think our orientation and fundamental beliefs are pretty close. Binay must be stopped. If there is one sure way to stop him is for the Ombudsman to file plunder charges against Binay, his wife, and son — soon. Otherwise, he’s got a chance to win the presidency only because the Filipino people are gullible and can be bought. However, if the right candidates run against him, there is a good chance that Binay can be defeated. And this is where the Catholic Church could help: In the final months of the campaign, the clergy should constantly remind the people of what Pope Francis told them and that is to reject corrupt politicians. And since most Filipinos are zealously religious, this just might do the trick.

          In my mind, there are only two presidentiables that I truly believe would make good leaders — Grace Poe and Sonny Trillanes. However, if they both run against Binay, they’d lose. They should team up as running mates either Poe-Trillanes or Trillanes-Poe. But personally, a Poe-Trillanes tandem would be formidable and could be unbeatable.

          All the best,
          Perry

          • pat talens says:

            Wow, I sure feel good I share same political thinking with you two high thinkers uh, Perry and Philip.

            From my gut feelings Trillanes will be the next President. He shall be the first PMA graduate-turn-President, that his elevation to the presidency will be a case study of unblemished political credentials, bravery, incorruptibility, and being a true patriot to the country. He knows he must safeguard he will be the most distinguished product of the Philippine Military Academy that will be recorded in the annals of history.

            As Philip says he was a junior officer, yet he had generals as followers (and haters who are corrupt).

  3. Bobby Bagos says:

    Hey Pat, you remember that old saying, “don’t count the chicks until the eggs hatch”. Well, in my opinion you folks are putting too much credence on these people prematurely.

    • philip says:

      Hey, Bobby, no one here is counting the chicks except you if you are pro-Binay (since the last election he is telling people I’ll see you in Malacanang as if it’s his birthright as a crown prince). We ourselves are still on the lookout for hens that will add to our 2-1/2 eggs.

      If not Susmaryosep, do you have a candidate?

      • Bobby Bagos says:

        Pro-Binay? Are you out of your frickin’ mind? I would rather see this sorry excuse of a human six feet under or in prison, but knowing our country’s justice system that’s not likely to happen. I’m being sarcastic that’s all because even with all the bright people commenting on each of these important issues, our mindless and clueless kababayans are the ones who’s going to seal the fate of our country not any of us, we can talk all we want, throw our two cents worth on who’s going to be worthy of leading our country but in the end, it’s really our kababyans who will be responsible in putting the last nail in the coffin.

        • philip says:

          So Bobby, are you for Poe or Sonny? Vote even only just for fun.

          • Bobby Bagos says:

            I wish I could even for fun as you say, unfortunately my citizenship status prohibits me from voting in our country. Even though I was born in the Philippines I’m considered one of those US citizen born abroad because of my father being a US citizen. Anyway, I would vote for either one of them, these two might just be the catalyst that will pull our country out of that dark pit.

  4. philip says:

    Pat,

    I appreciate much your “high thinkers” compliment but I disagree that we are “two” because now we are “three” including you.
    Coincidentally, our names all start with “P” and therefore I propose we become the charter members of the PPP (ala-KKK) – the Pilipinos Para sa Pilipinas. Our first project is the next PH Presidential election and we’ll actively campaign for our chosen candidate.

    Right now our candidates and their votes are:

    Sonny Trillanes — 2-1/2
    Grace Poe — 1/2

    The journey of a thousand miles start with the first step. This is it.

    All patriotic GlobalBalita readers, please join us and name your choice so we can tally. The higher vote-getter will be the PPP Presidential bet and the other our VP. We’ll end the counting 12/31/15.

    Mabuhay PPP,
    PhiliP

  5. ALLAN SIMBULAN says:

    I am all for POE-Trillanes candidacy.

  6. philip says:

    Perry,

    Please keep this post alive on your front page.

    PPP SCORE 1/22/15:

    Trillanes-Poe — 2-1/2
    Poe-Trillanes — 1-1/2

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