What I expect from Pope’s visit

/ 02:14 AM January 18, 2015
POPE FRANCIS MANIA  Children wait for Pope Francis on J.P. Laurel Street near Malacañang.

POPE FRANCIS MANIA Children wait for Pope Francis on J.P. Laurel Street near Malacañang.

Tolerance, compassion

“I hope his visit will heal our nation—that we are all given the grace to experience conversion from a life of sin to one of virtue and remind us all to be more tolerant, forgiving and compassionate to one another, especially the poor, the oppressed and those suffering from injustice.”—Ria Vergara, businesswoman, Cabanatuan City


“If there’s one thing Pope Francis has espoused, it’s tolerance. I hope that by his example, he teaches us all to be kinder to one another and more respectful of our commonalities and differences—like St. Francis of Assisi—that we might all become instruments of peace!”—Patricia Feria, 31, Teach for the Philippines, chief strategic resources officer, Makati City

“As a Catholic, I am expecting that his visit will unite us Filipinos toward mercy and compassion. With all the issues and concerns we face every day, let this be a breather and serve as enlightenment for us that as Christians, we can be instruments of societal change.”—Roel Villamor, 40, high school teacher, Biñan City


“The youth sector admires the Pope’s simplicity, compassion and blessedness. His admirable traits inspire the youth in helping people who are less fortunate.”—Adelaine Bautista, president of University Student Council of Bicol University

“Pope Francis, through his visit, will mark the Philippines as a country and as a Church of mercy and compassion. He will invigorate the heart of the Filipino people to true humility and kindness.”—Lito Abella, seminarian from City of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro


“I hope that corrupt officials will have a change of heart and people will work together with the Pope and his message of compassion as an inspiration.”—Arvin Carandang, radio announcer, San Pablo City

“That our country be blessed, especially the poor, needy and sick. And that our government officials will be deeply touched by his visit so that they’ll be compassionate. And for strength and faith for Filipinos to face each challenge that will come their way.”—Rosalie Silva Castelltort, hospital employee and mother, Biñan City

Dialogue, peace

“I expect Pope Francis to talk about peace in Mindanao during his visit, about understanding of peoples from different faiths.”—Orlando Cardinal B. Quevedo, OMI, DD, Archbishop of Cotabato


“That the government will seriously alleviate poverty, restore public trust, strengthen interfaith dialogue and support the peace process not only for the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front but also with the Communist Party of the Philippines. I hope these concerns will be raised by the Pope in his message to the Filipino nation.”—Alih Aiyub, secretary general of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines

“Pope Francis’ historic visit will bring renewed and revitalized Christian faith in the Philippines. If given the chance to speak to the Pope, I would tell him that the Christian faith should lead to interfaith dialogue to nip the violent tendencies of religious extremists.”—Joey Salomon, 43, real estate broker, San Fernando City, La Union

“I expect the visit will reconcile Filipino Christians and our Muslim brothers. If the Pope’s visit can’t reach out to the Muslims in the south, I hope he can address a small group of Muslims in Manila.”—Necitas Alconis, retired government employee and teacher in a private college in Basco, Batanes

“Hopefully, Pope Francis’ visit will help deliver the message of social problems in the country to the Aquino administration so that people’s demands will be recognized, most importantly on land reform, national industrialization and sovereignty….The visit would also help encourage the National Democratic Front and the government to once again come to the table to give a peaceful solution to the root causes of the conflict.”—Jorge Madlos, spokesman, National Democratic Front-Mindanao

“His visit will bring good tidings to a people who have gone through a lot of tribulations the past two years. I hope his presence will further strengthen our faith as Christians as we commune with our Muslim brothers and fortify our resiliency as a race.”—Alan Piloton, 30, lawyer, Cebu City


“We expect presidential clemency to be extended to those deserving and the old and sick prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison. The papal visit is a blessing.”—Rick Iberra, 46, chief of detainees at the Bulacan Provincial Jail, City of Malolos

“I see the visit as a message of hope for my family and the families of political prisoners.”—Nicolette Gamara, 25, whose father has been in prison since 2012

Renewed faith

“I’m expecting an overflow of grace, love and inspiration from Pope Francis’ visit, which I hope will restrengthen our Catholic faith and renew the nation. His visit is a huge blessing and I hope that his love and inspiration will remain with us even after he leaves.” — John Rex Jardinero, 27, account officer, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

“I expect that our [countrymen] will have time to renew their faith and strengthen their spiritual intervention through prayers.” — Arcangel Merced Bueno, teacher, Sta. Cruz National High School, Sta. Cruz, Zambales

“As a young boy, I dreamt of going to the Vatican to see the Pope. Now, the Holy Father is visiting us. The mere thought of seeing him is overwhelming. I hope this journey with him will strengthen our faith in God and foster unity among mankind.” — Rommell Sagucio, 37, youth minister, Diocese of Laoag, Ilocos Norte

“I expect a surge of hope in our country … I also expect that Pope Francis’ visit and his demonstration of inclusivity will inspire more people to make serving God a way of life.” — Ynna Yalong, 26,

St. Lawrence Deacon and Martyr Parish’s Commission on Liturgy chair, Balagtas, Bulacan

“We expect the further strengthening of family ties and inculcating Christian values into family members. We need these especially because many Filipino families continue to fall apart.” — Reynaldo Gutierrez, 73, former vice president, Central Luzon State University in the Science City of Muñoz

“I hope for the spiritual renewal of all believers.”

— Marlon Pielago, 58, government employee from Teresa, Rizal

“I hope the visit will help Catholics renew their faith in the Church. Let’s not get too excited about his presence. Rather let’s focus on the message that God is trying to send through him. What’s that message? I don’t know. I believe he has a personal message for each of us. What is mine could be different from yours. It’s your assignment to discover it and reflect on it.”— Sarah Moran, 24, editorial coordinator, Makati City

“I hope that his coming will bring renewal to the Church and that the priests and the faithful will understand and know him. I also hope he himself will learn more about the Philippines.” — Fatima de la Rama, hotelier in Bacolod


“With the activities open to everybody, even to non-Catholics, it is heartening to know that we, Filipinos, will be united on his arrival and the poor, the needy and the victims of disasters, will be given time to be with him in the different activities.” — Margaret Celeste, environmentalist

“The Pope’s visit serves as a unifying force, an inspiration to believers of Christ. He is like a fresh infusion [of spirituality] into people whose faith is wavering. He would be energizing the faithful.” — Janet Albano, 58, science teacher, Calasiao National Comprehensive High School, Pangasinan

“I expect the visit to unify the people. This is despite differences in beliefs and social status—whether rich or poor.” — Giovanni Mundin, resident of Sto. Tomas, Batangas

Hope for disaster victims

“May his visit unite Filipinos and bring peace, prosperity and hope, especially to the poor and victims of disaster.” — Araceli Lim-Enriquez, 59, community development officer, Social Action Center of Pampanga

“I see Pope Francis’ visit as a way to encourage the Catholics in the Philippines to unite on their faith and console the victims of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda.’” — Yolanda I. Berenia, 56, village chief of New San Roque in Pili town, Camarines Sur.

“The Philippines has been hit by countless calamities. Many have been victims of natural and manmade disasters. We deserve someone who can symbolize hope and who can mend every heart. I hope he will touch our lives and bless us with hope and strength for a stronger Philippines.” — Dodge Perez, 24, Cebu City, supervisor of a BPO firm

“I hope he will pray with us so that we wouldn’t meet any more calamity.” — Amelia Celis, principal of Tawig Elementary School in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte

“I hope the visit will bring to fore the plight of our people who have to face the impact of climate change and the administration’s recalcitrance to the plea for climate justice and system change, which is putting more communities at risk. For the Pope to see that beyond the façade is a people who continue to suffer.” — Aaron Pedrosa, 29, secretary general of Sanlakas

Change in PH Church, gov’t

“I expect the Pope’s visit to bring change in the Philippine Church; that his simplicity in bringing Christ’s teachings to the people will trickle down and be emulated by the clergy and the faithful. I hope they don’t just fall all over him when he comes and forget what he personifies after he leaves. We need a welcoming and more open Church with the poor as partners and not as beneficiaries.” — Anne Ledesma, NGO worker in Bacolod City

“I hope the Pope will be an instrument of change in government. I hope that we will have fewer corrupt officials and that he may serve as an inspiration for everyone to do good.”

— Gigi Abrera, 61, housewife from Pagsanjan, Laguna

“I hope the visit will enlighten corrupt politicians that they should put the welfare of the community above their own interests. He really impressed me, especially with his stance on LGBTs when he said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Also, I hope he inspires more Filipinos to become honest individuals.” — Teresita Osorio, 77, head librarian, Pasig City

“Even if you’re not much of a believer, like I am, there’s something about his presence that makes you have hope that everything can get better.” — Grace Imperial, 24, call center agent, Pasig City


“I pray that he will bless my family, especially my eldest son, that he will be able to finish college and eventually find a job so he can help his four younger siblings. When Yolanda hit us, we lost our small house. We still live in my sister’s house.” — Josephine Babante, 45, janitor and resident of Barangay 84, Tacloban

“I hope that he will bless my family … I pray to him that I will have good health and that my business will prosper. Of course, I also wish that there would be no problems and conflicts not only in our country but in other parts of the world.” — Alejo Montallana, 50, beauty parlor, Tacloban

“If given the chance to talk to him, I will ask him good health for me and the rest of my family members. And I wish that I will have the chance to embrace him. Well, I guess I will cry if I will be given that chance to have him so close to me.”

— Andrew Nino Labajo, 22, student, Barangay 71, Tacloban

Other views

“The Pope will be an inspiring presence for a while and his words will linger for a while, but it will be forgotten, if these words are not truly lived by the clergy and the parishioners. It takes time to form a habit of faith, a habit of honesty, a habit of loving your neighbor and the habit of caring for nature.” — Virginia Pasalo, commissioner, Pangasinan Historical and Cultural Commission and founding director, Women in Development Foundation

“I hope the papal visit will enlighten the people about their wealth and their relation to God. Man must not be swayed by the glitter of gold to the point of decadence and self-destruction. The Pope will remind us all that good deeds shall remain prime commodity to ward off greed that destroys humanity.” — Arturo Galicia, 45, businessman, Orani, Bataan

“The visit will not cause any significant change, particularly in the moral and spiritual lives of Filipinos. Whatever little piousness people will exhibit, it will be gone in a matter of days. When the Pope leaves, people will be back to their old selves.” — Eduardo Valdez, 60s, former private employee, Tagum City

“Not all of the people can have the chance to see the Pope in person, so the effect of his visit might not be that personal, especially to us here in Mindanao.” — Marven Amolato, 24, college graduate, Tagum City

Interviews by Juliet Cataluña, Villamor Visaya Jr., Leilanie Adriano, Cristina Arzadon, Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Armand Galang, Anselmo Roque, Allan Macatuno and Greg Refraccion, Inquirer Central Luzon; Juan Escandor Jr., Ma April Mier, Madonna Virola, Maricar P. Cinco, Romulo O. Ponte, Jofel Joyce Lancion and Shiena Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Edwin O. Fernandez, Karlos Manlupig and Frinston Lim, Inquirer Mindanao; and Annelle Tayao-Juego and Jovic Yee, Inquirer Metro

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