1. Insulted the Church face-to-face
Imagine you have a guest, one who is beloved by your housemates. As a way of greeting him, you say to him: “Hey, your children suck”. See anything wrong with it? If yes, congratulations, you are normal. If not, congratulations, you are Presidential material. At least you know how a President should treat a guest of honor such as the Pope.
We thought it wasn’t too much to ask that Noynoy Aquino not follow his standard speech template of 1) blame the past administration 2) glorify my family legacy 3) anyone who criticizes me is irrational for welcoming the Pontiff. But we were DEAD WRONG.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here)
2. Media ‘dumbed down’ the Pope…
Do you know why Pope Francis is super popular, even compared to previous Popes? Well if you ask Philippine media (particularly TV and radio broadcasters and commentators), it’s because of his smile, what he ate for breakfast and lunch, his seemingly boundless energy, etc.
No, really, if I was just some ordinary Filipino and I hadn’t learnt about Google, then that’s what I would think. Because that’s virtually everything about the Pope that local media focused on.
What did the Pope say about corruption, lack of social services, and continuing extreme poverty under the Aquino administration IN FRONT of Noynoy Aquino himself? It doesn’t matter! Pogi naman yung kumakanta sa misa. That’s how stupid the local media coverage of the Papal visit was.
3. … and so did some of the ‘faithful’
I’m being nice with the word some. At times, I ask myself whether I’m waiting for the Pontiff, or in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Because man, everyone’s wearing a Papal shirt, beating the heat with Papal fan, and buying food from a fastfood joint with a Papal tarpaulin. Oh and if that’s not enough, vendors are selling anything Papal all the way to dolls and pillows that are meant to look like Francis.
It’s like a fiesta where everyone is celebrating, but if you ask the original religious significance of the fiesta, only a few people can remember (come to think of it, I think this was my comment on the Sinulog).
4. Military bullies priests, nuns, and other religious (and Church officials allow it)
This is where shit gets serious. Remember how Aquino mentioned in his speech ‘Martial Law’? Apparently, he wanted to demonstrate to the youth today (those born after 1986) how that worked. So the Armed Forces arrested some nuns in the province of Leyte simply because they previously criticized the incompetence of the government’s relief efforts after Yolanda (and despite those nuns having done MORE than the government in that specific field).
They also tried to prevent people, led by both Catholic and Protestant priests, from seeing the motorcade because their banners called on the Pope to ‘help them against corruption’ (something which the Pope is against with, in the first place). Finally, they tried to prevent a Catholic priest from attending the Papal activities in Tacloban (even though he was in the guest list), again, because of his criticisms of the government’s Yolanda efforts.
What did the Pope say again in front of Aquino? “The great Biblical traditions enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the Poor”. Baka dapat ata Tagalog para maintindihin ni Noynoy.
And worst of all, the Church (or at least, top officials of the Catholic Church in the Philippines) were part of it. At the very least, they allowed themselves to be bullied. At most, they were guilty of the same paranoia and anti-poor biases as Aquino.
5. The poor were silenced, censored, and airbrushed
At every step of the way, the poor, the main reason the Pope came to the Philippines, was kept out of his way. Street children and vendors were swept off the streets as if they were garbage. High fences were erected to hide slums. Farmers from the island of Samar were blockaded so they could not enter Tacloban.
No wonder this guy doesn’t look happy…