A Leap of Waterproofed Faith

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My own encounter with the Pope would also be considered a leap of faith. I have never been a person who goes with mass hysteria. I did not pass such a phase where I would get so star-strucked with someone that it becomes an obsession, following a popular person’s itineraries and whatever news that comes out about him.

In high school, when most of my classmates were busy buying wallet-sized photographs and magazines of Keempee de Leon, Manilyn Reynes, Jennifer Sevilla,  Sheryl  Cruz, Romnick Sarmenta among the local showbiz personalities (there goes my age!) and Phoebe Cates and Brooke Shields among the Hollywood stars, I was just contented with listening to their stories and poring over magazines from classmates. I might have read showbiz magazines but that was because we were selling them.  And I would also have wallet sized photos of these young stars because we were also selling them in our stationeries store.

So, I was pretty much surprised when I was able to catch on with the “Pope Francis Fever” and experienced the “Francis Effect” myself.
Photo of Pope Francis belongs to my friend JOM ILAO

Here in Manila, my brother, sister and I decided to wait on for the Pope’s motorcade. We do not have a definite plan or strategy as to where we would position ourselves. All we have was a copy of the itinerary and route and advisory of closed roads.

We went with our gut and said a prayer. I asked to be led to where we would  be able to see the motorcade with less challenges.

The bus we took would just take us to the nearest drop-off point at the De La Salle University.  We decided to have an early lunch so we walked our way to Harrison Plaza.  Harrison Plaza was a place that brought so much memories to us and we immediately immersed ourselves to a throwback. Seeing the chapel, my brother candidly said that it gave a big contribution to his eagerness of being a priest.
We were supposed to go to Malate Crown Plaza where my office was so we could stay comfortably while waiting for the time to go to Roxas Boulevard where we decided to wait for the motorcade. 

My brother and my sisters

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my keys and identification cards. Along Manila Zoo, I was hesitant to go over the other side of the street to Adriatico because of the notoriety of the snatchers in that area. 
A woman sitting in one of those seats in the sidewalk talked to me and told me to stay there if we were to wait for the motorcade. 

There were just a few people there except for some policemen directing the route changes. I was hesitant to stay because I could smell the stink from Mali the Elephant’s area in the zoo. But then I saw a TV network’s van so I thought the woman could be right.

A few moments later, the human barricaders were marching down the street towards where we were going , heading to Taft Avenue where the Apostolic Nunciature (the place where the Pope was staying) was located. I was so happy about our position because there was not much of the crowd and we were able to buy souvenir t-shirts. A bit later, the crowd started to thicken, but I was glad we were already there before them and got the best view.

The policemen and the volunteers were all having light moments when it started to drizzle. As soon as the convoy of the Pope passed by it started to rain. No wonder he chose to stay inside the black limousine and the Pope mobile tagging along empty.

Luckily, he had the windows rolled down, I was able to see him even for a second and that was enough for me.  After the convoy passed us by, the rain stopped. As a little boy was saying, it was a blessing. So worth it!

Back in Tacloban, my sisters started their Pilgrim journey on the eve of the Papal Mass in Tacloban on January 17. As early as 12midnight, they already started walking to the airport, almost 7 kilometers from where they were staying. They were able to get into their quadrants at 4 am because security was tight. There was a public storm signal #2 for Typhoon Amang. Braving through the storm, they stood their ground and never left their place. It was a good thing that the Pope’s schedule was moved earlier. The plane arrived Tacloban airport  at 845 am, earlier than scheduled.

My 2 sisters were pilgrims in Tacloban.

Shivering and cold, my sister said that the experience was all worth it. The mass was so touching that the people beside her were also emotional. 

Reflecting on everything that happened to us in the past 5 days that the Pope was with us, I’d say that it really was more of a leap of faith for most of us. In a way the events that happened in this 5 faith-renewing days were more than surreal for most of us, it was also very symbolical. The rain washed away the tears from our eyes and cleansed them anew. It made us see that there is hope in the Catholic Church after all the controversies and scandal it has been facing over the past years. 

Photo: AFP/JOHANNES EISELE for Channel News Asia

The rain was more symbolical for the people of Tacloban. It washed away the pain, the anger, the torment and the uncertainties of what Typhoon Yolanda has brought to each family, including me. It cleansed our eyes and made us see into the future with a better perspective and renewed hope. It was indeed a blessing. More than anything else, as the Pope himself said, it was for him to experience what every Taclobanon felt and had endured.

Photo: CBCP

This is the faith of the Filipino people. It is waterproof, shockproof even. No typhoon nor earthquake shall separate us from our God. It is only when we are down on our knees that we learn to get up and rise above the ruins and debris of life. It is only when lost everything that we find our faith, because when we are left with nothing,  it is the only thing that we can hold on to for our survival and redemption. 

Still hoping you'd keep the faith,


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