20 January 2015


Groupie with my awkward smile. :)

            The hash tag blessed by the Pope (#BlessedByThePope) was used by many netizens during the Papal visit when they are posting photos with the Pope. This was started by a TV network here in the Philippines. I did not use the hash tag on my posts in my social media accounts but I feel so blessed.

            Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church and of the Vatican City, arrived in the Philippines reminding the faithful that he wants Jesus to be the center of his visit. I want to stress this to those who are giving negative remarks about the Papal visit. I have read some on my Facebook newsfeed, and as much as I want to say something it is not really worth my time. I believe that we are all entitled with our own opinion and the rights to fight the religion we believe.
            These being said, I want to forget what I read and move on to the story that I want to share. I was with nine people with the million in attendance, in one rainy day, and with one mission – to be in the same place with Pope Francis.
            Last Saturday when I arrived home after meeting one of my college friend my father asked me what time I am leaving for the Concluding Mass of Pope Francis. I answered 4 am. I was surprised because when I first ask permission he was hesitant. He rarely let me go to big gatherings. I was so delighted, to think that I am still confused if I would go without his permission (in our family it is important that we do things or go to places with permission my parents specially my father). I immediately texted our designated team leader informing her that I am going.
            We rode in LRT to Recto, had a stopover near Quiapo church, and walked in the streets of Manila that are along the way to Quirino Grand Stand.
            When we reached our destination our next challenge were to get through the crowd and find a way get into one of the quadrants being unharmed and not being separated from each other. I am telling you that was a very – very big crowd. We are talking millions here. And, that was one thing I fear being lost and separated in the sea of people. We hold hands and line – up like the Boy Scouts do. We are like, okay follow the leader. Whenever we feel we lost someone or we left someone behind we stopped right on the spot where we are.
            While walking slowly the things that are going on in my mind were: 1. I should not be separated from my group. 2. Focus on following who’s in our lead. 3. Be considerate with the elderly and those who have their kids with them. 4. Be aware. 5. Never say the “B” (bomb) word, and the most pressing question 6. What will I do if ever I will be separated?
            The police visibility and the number of volunteers in the event help me get over in my anxiety. It also help that the people are considerate.
            Luckily we found a spot to wait until 3 pm. We used a garbage bag as our picnic blanket. When it started to rain we used the remaining bag as an improvised raincoat. That was an idea of kuya Kalvs. Like us the rest of the crowd came in group, with their family, with their friends, and I was with my SFC community. Some came prepared with raincoats and even with umbrellas.
            We endured the rain. How can we complain when the Pope himself experience the rain in his visit in Palo, Leyte? And so we wait until Pope Francis arrived.
            When the arrival of the Pope approaches we were all positive that we are going to see him because a reporter from GMA 7 was stationed near in our place which is also near the open air auditorium. But he did not and it was more than okay.
            After all what I really want is to be in the same place with the Pope, to be with the million Filipino in celebrating the mass being lead by the Pope, and to feel the presence of Jesus Christ with the Pope. Receiving the blessing of the Pope after the celebration of the mass was surreal.
            Now that the Pope already left the Philippines I hope that we will not stop feeling of being blessed whether you are a Catholic or not. I hope that we will not forget the purpose of his Papal and State visit. One of them is to strengthen our relationships in the family by praying together. His visit wakes me up in my personal struggles.  Lastly, I am also reminded to be humble and to be simple. How about you? 
             The crowd before the rain. Look at that sky.
That's my cousin Reymond in a red hoodie. He's the one who brought an umbrella.
By 9 am it started to rain. See that big white umbrella that is where Connie Sison, a repoter from GMA 7 is positioned.

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Maira Gall